Friendships are a magical thing. We are social creatures, and it shows; friendships and social networking have been recorded as far back as the beginning of recorded history, and may well be responsible for our survival to this day. We may not be especially strong, but our unique ability to communicate and collaborate may have been that special thing that gave us the edge, and enabled us to develop the lives we know today. Friendship is deeply important, both collectively and individually, and it’s important to nurture it where we can – for more than one reason.
The benefits of friendship
Friendship has obvious mental health benefits from the outset. Sharing experiences and emotions with another is a powerful thing, allowing us to relate our own experiences and navigate the world a little lighter in the process. Friendships generate more happiness in people, as jokes and good humour are actively shared. But besides these social and mental benefits, there can also be physical benefits to friendship: it has been documented in a number of studies that people with friends are physically fitter than people who feel socially isolated. Older people have reported lower blood pressure for having a network of friends, while adolescents have an increased risk of inflammation if largely alone.
The benefits don’t stop there; our tendency to work together can also make a subconscious impact, with obesity and habit-related diseases dropping in friendship networks.
How to nurture a friendship
Friendships can still require work to function as they should; here are four ways you can continue to nurture your friendships, and keep them going strong.
Making active attempts to organise events for your friends to attend is a great way to strengthen your bond; try hosting a barbecue in warmer weather, or a dinner party in colder weather. Even just getting your friends round for an afternoon of tea and biscuits can be an excellent way to spend time together.
Get out there
Not all activities should happen in the home. Experiencing new things together, and creating unique memories will nurture your friendship no end. Get outside, go on hikes to places you’ve never been before, and maybe even camp together while you’re out there!
A little gift here and there can go a very long way in nurturing a friendship, by simply letting them know you’re thinking of them. Gift them a chocolate hamper for some random indulgence, or drop by with a bottle of wine to simply thank them for being there.
Keep in touch
It can be easy for friendships to fall by the wayside, which is why continued communication is paramount. Create chat groups on Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp or Discord, enabling you to stay in touch and share in experiences from afar. Reach out individually as well; make phone calls to check in and chat to your pals.