If you love the British animated TV series Shaun the Sheep, you will also love the Helium Books series, especially the third book Helium Heels. They both feature animal characters whose antics make their farm life more fun and exciting. If you could look beyond their craziness and adventures in the barn, you will discover the deep friendship between the farm animals.

In the Helium Books the theme of friendship may not be as obvious as the other themes of family, fun, teamwork, and cooperation, but the stories are built on friendship. The farm animals get along well with each other, and play and live together in harmony, despite belonging to different species.

If only we humans could be like the animals in the barn, the world would be a better place.

Just how important is friendship for your health and happiness? Friendships have positive effects on mental and physical health.

Dr. William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, studied some self-reported measures of health and happiness.  Survey data from over 270,000 adults of all ages showed that people who strongly value friendship feel more positive about their wellness.

In another questionnaire study of nearly 7,500 older adults asked about their relationships and health, he found that participants with support from family and friends had fewer chronic illnesses than those without good support.

Other studies also confirm that friendship is important to our health and well-being, depending on the quality of the relationships. It is not always easy to build and maintain friendships, but understanding how important they are in life should encourage you to develop and nurture them.

Good friends can help you celebrate the good times and provide support during bad times. They help overcome loneliness and isolation, and also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Reduce your stress and ease your anxiety.
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth.  
  • Help you cope with trauma, such as divorce, job loss, serious illness, or death of a loved one.
  • Keep your mind sharp.
  • Encourage you to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
  • Help you achieve your goals.
  • Support a new business and provide referrals.
  • Improve your quality of life overall.

Friendship also promotes your physical health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of significant health problems, such as depression and high blood pressure. Studies also confirm that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than peers with fewer connections.

Now that we know how having good friends can improve our social life, emotional health, and over-all well-being, we should go out and make more friends.

Close friendships don’t just happen overnight. Many of us struggle to meet people and develop quality connections. But, whatever your age or circumstances, it’s never too late to make new friends and reconnect with old ones.

Image by Yazid Nasuha from Pixabay

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