It is important to get things done in life and many of us find a lot of satisfaction in doing our job and doing it well. That being said, it is also important to be balanced and taking a little time for yourself can help to pull you back to balance again. According to some research, being with a close group of girlfriends when you do so is the key to living a fulfilling and happy life.
The research comes out of Harvard and was posted on The Harvard Women’s Health Blog. It said that friends: “not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking.”
It seems that people who have better relationships in their lives are healthier, happier and may even live to a ripe old age.
They also looked at the opposing view to see what it had to say. People who were part of the study and lacked the positive social ties were more likely to experience a cognitive decline later in life, bouts of depression and were even likely to die at an earlier stage.
What is the mechanism behind these results? It seems as if there are both behavioral and biological factors that work into the results. If you aren’t connecting with others, it can lead to higher levels of stress. That stress can affect your health in numerous ways, including lowering your immune function, gut function, negatively affecting the arteries and even reducing insulin resistance.
If you aren’t yet convinced that getting away with your girlfriends is important, psychologists have something else to say. They claim that they are able to predict the quality and strength of somebody’s social life by measuring their pain tolerance.
It seems as if being with our friends is not only important for making us feel good right now, they help us to tolerate the physical pain we may feel at other times.
Additional evidence may point to the benefits of enjoying time with friends. It can work to produce oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that allows your brain to communicate happy feelings. We could all use more of those! When you have more oxytocin available, it makes you a more generous and trusting individual. In turn, this makes you happier. Ergo, spending more time with friends makes you a happier person.
If you happen to be somebody that isn’t really good at making friends, you may have some difficulty taking full advantage of this good news. Social media sometimes makes it easy for us to hold a relationship but unless we have it face-to-face, we don’t really get the full benefit.
William Chopik, a psychologist at Michigan State University had the following to say:
“Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So, it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”
Forbes even said that women who go on vacations are less depressed, tense and tired and they even are happier with their spouses. It seems as if travel is a key and not just taking the day to get things checked off of your to do list.
When a woman does not take the time to get out and see the world, they are at a higher risk of heart disease and the results are similar for men. Women tended to experience it on a higher level.
You might not be able to get away from all of your obligations but if you do take a close trip with good friends, it can go a long way in helping you to be happier in general.
Maybe it is time for a discussion with your significant other; one that will allow you to get away for a while.