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    Aging Well Partners
  • Sep 14
  • 4 min

Friendships Are Good For Your Health

Friendships Are Good For Your Health

Friendships are good for your health, but do you pass up opportunities to strengthen and develop them? Understanding the importance of friendships in your life and what you can do to develop and nurture them is mighty important, especially as you age. Friends have the tendency to take a backseat to work, family obligations and endless busy schedules, but they are such powerful medicine, and we tend to pass up friendship opportunities more frequently as we age or get busy. Friendships are enriching and the prescription to a flourishing life. Friends make us laugh, and as it turns out, laughing is a fantastic stress reliever, and researchers have found that laughter can boost your immune system.

I was recently invited last minute to a concert. The invitation came from a friend who ended up with an extra ticket. I didn’t know the band, it was about an hour away, it was hot, the venue was outside, and it was a weeknight. It would have been super easy to pass on it. I had a list of why I shouldn’t attend: I’m super busy, I don’t have the time, it’s a work night, etc. There are endless justifications why we shouldn’t go out on a Thursday when life is packed with…well everything; but it’s probably the best time to go out.
My first response was sorry I’m already booked (I was) but literally an hour later I wasn’t booked, and it certainly would have been easy to just not text back that I was now free, but in the end I did. Now I was committed to knocking-off work early, getting ready, driving an hour, attending the concert―and then driving the hour back. Apprehension began setting in almost immediately that I’d accepted the invitation, but why?

Sometimes potential or already great friends are right in front of your face, but you keep walking by them or looking for something better. I planted a single “stick” of grape vines this past Spring. It looked like a stick with a few wispy roots. I literally stuck it in the ground and thought, this thing doesn’t have a chance. Why did I buy this? It’s never going to grow a thing, much less grapes. Month after month nothing, and at one point I took it out of the ground and stuck it in a pot and sort of forgot about it, and not surprising still nothing. But then one day, I moved it to a sunny spot in my yard, gave it the attention necessary and then voila growth! I invested in the extra care, now that it had my attention, and within a few short months, beautiful glossy climbing vines emerged, and boom, out popped the first of grapes.
I think friendships are often like that. We don’t see the possibilities of a beautiful and rewarding friendship that will take you through life’s challenges. We are so focused on what we want somewhere else we don’t see what’s right in front of us, and we don’t give ourselves the gift of these valuable relationships by saying yes to the invitations of concerts, dinners, walks, or just some coffee at their house. We put off cultivating these powerful friendships that are so good for our well-being.

Like gardens, friendships require ongoing cultivation, or they will wither away and die. And we get so much out of friendships that we don’t realize, until we suddenly are short on these important connections.
Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many illnesses from depression, high blood pressure and even high body mass index (BMI). Science Supports the friendship connection and here’s a few more reasons to start planning your next friend meet-up:
• Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
• Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
• Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
• Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
• Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

The concert ended up being fantastic. What a performance! The venue was amazing as it turned out to be at, SURPRISE, a vineyard! We literally could walk through the actively growing grapes. It was a sensory euphoria. The weather was a perfect summer evening, and the one hour ride each way turned out to be one of the best conversations I’d have in a long time. So much laughter and joy in those hours.
We ended up taking the backroads to the venue to avoid traffic, so we had the extra pleasure of driving through some of the most visually stunning landscape that neither one of us had realized was so close to our homes. The stress of the week slowly melted, and by the time I got home I had a big happy contented smile on my face. That night I had one of the most sound and peaceful sleeps in a long time and woke up quite refreshed. All that from one night out with a friend. Age Well.

Jacqui Clark is a Certified Senior Advisor™ (CSA™) consultant with Living Coastal Senior Resources, and co-founder of Aging Well Partners. She is an industry leading living-and-aging well expert, and a respected communications specialist. She’s lived in San Diego for 35 years, much of that in Carlsbad where she and her husband live with their two daughters. Find Jacqui at www.agingwellpartners.com