Friendship Is a Lifesaver
Friendship requires at least three things: It should be long-lasting, positive, and cooperative. Friendship nearly always includes a willingness to help, especially in times of crisis.
In short, friendship is creating bonded groups that act as a buffer against life's stresses.
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When people were forced into social isolation, a light was also shining on another crisis - loneliness.
The antidote to loneliness is accessible to all of us: friendship. The shared global crisis has showed how significant friends are to our day-to-day happiness.
Science shows friendship is critical for our happiness, health, and longevity.
* In the 1970s and 1980s, some epidemiologists and sociologists showed that socially isolated individuals over age 66 had a 30 percent increased risk of early mortality.
* Studies reveal that social connection improves cardiovascular functioning, reduces susceptibility to inflammation and viral disease, sharpens cognition, reduces depression, lowers stress, and even slows biological aging.
At all stages of life, how we do friendship has to do with our natural desire for sociability and varies from person to person.
Friendship is a lifelong endeavor, although not everyone realizes it. If you only invest in friendships when your family and professional obligations slow, you will be at a disadvantage.
It is possible to make new friends at every stage of life.
Volunteering is one way of improving the lives of other people, and the joint interest can assist in getting to know each other. Hopefully, friendships can grow out of that.
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Loneliness is becoming an "epidemic" and is associated with illnesses like heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and longevity.
Back in 1999, a support group called Bright Point was formed to fill the need of friends. But when people came together, no one talked. It was only after games were introduced as a catalyst that friendships started forming. Later, making meals and exercising was added successfully.
The program is not without challenges. Many lonely people may feel intimidated and won't attend. But designating a space for gathering and activities is a good step toward tackling loneliness.
A child's pre-teen and teen years are a high-emotion transitory period. This is due to shifting classmates, social pressure, multiple classrooms and a period of many 'firsts'.
A study on sixth-graders revealed that friendship is crucial and real for kids, and can be as deep as a parental relationship.
Most parents and teachers do not understand the importance of deep bonding among friends at school and tend to regard friendships as a distraction or a nuisance.
Social isolation is the dark side of the school, in which many kids with no friends are at risk of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. There is a perceived sense of threat with being friendless, and the young, immature mind can deeply internalize the resulting difficulties, leading to depression.
Bullying at this age is also a major problem, with those who are socially isolated becoming the most vulnerable to being bullied.
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