In such a fast-paced, goal-oriented society, it can be very difficult to make time for yourself, let alone for other people. It is not uncommon to get swept up in school or work or both for days, weeks and even months and neglect your personal relationships along the way. In college, we are surrounded by potential friends at almost every minute, so it is a fairly simple thing to reach out to one to grab lunch or cram for an exam together. But even then, people can become so busy that they do not have the time or energy to spend time with their friends living down the hall. After college, it becomes even harder to stay connected to friends as people move away, start living alone or with family and begin working. However, losing touch with one’s friends can be severely detrimental to one’s health. In addition to the mental toll of loneliness and disconnectedness, being friendless also seems to have a profound effect on physical health.
Humans are social beings, inclined to make relationships with those around us. For the most part, even those who struggle to meet new people and make new friends desire authentic and meaningful friendships. Friendship is a wonderful thing; having just one person that you truly connect with and feel comfortable around can be enough to get you through difficult times. Good friends uplift each other, support one another, and bring joy into each other’s lives. Real friends encourage you and challenge you to be your best self. And while it can be easy to take your friends for granted, being separated from true friends can really make you appreciate how important that bond is.
People who lack robust and fulfilling social lives appear to have a higher likelihood of developing physical and mental health conditions. Friendlessness has been linked to lowered immunity, worsened cardiovascular health and increased rates of depression. One study even found that loneliness has the same damaging effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. On the other hand, having good friendships can lead to lower stress levels and healthier habits such as eating good diets and exercising.
This does not mean that you need to have a huge circle of friends to protect you from the dangers of being alone. What matters is having at least a few true friends on whom you can fully rely. It is better to have only a handful of friends who love and support you than to have many superficial friends or toxic friends that drag you down.
Having just one good friend can make a tremendous difference in your life. The people you keep close to you are the ones who have the potential to make the greatest impact on your life, so it is important to surround yourself with people who lift you up. Seek out people who brighten your day and motivate you to be better. By the same token, if you meet someone who seems like they need a friend, do your best to be the positive influence that they need. Building strong networks of friends will help to combat the growing loneliness epidemic and lead to a healthier and happier society.
Veronica Eskander is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.