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The Power of Friendship: How Social Bonds Can Make You Happier and Healthier



The Unseen Void in Your Social Life

You are busy with family, perhaps even overwhelmed. It is easy to think you do not have time for friends or extended family. But when your children grow up and need you less, or when life throws a curveball like a job loss or illness, that is when you will feel the absence of a wider support network.


A Wake-Up Call: Have You Ever Found Yourself Friendless?

Have you ever found yourself in need of a friend but could not think of a name, or realised you had lost touch with people who once mattered? If this question makes you think, "I should reconnect with Tony" or "I need to stay in touch with Winnie," then you are not alone. This is a wake-up call to nurture those bonds before they fade away.


This blog post aims to explore further the importance of friendships and social bonds, offering both practical advice and personal anecdotes.


The Necessity of Friendships: More than Just a Luxury

Friendships are not just a social luxury; they are a human necessity. Even for someone like me, who is cautious about letting people in, the value of friendships is undeniable. Let us explore why:


Emotional and Psychological Benefits

  • Emotional Anchors in Life's Storms: When unexpected event life events such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one occur, friends offer a unique kind of emotional support that even family sometimes cannot provide. For instance, when my mother passed away, my cousins, who are also my closest friends, were my pillars of strength. They helped me navigate through this traumatising experience, keeping me busy and ensuring I ate well. Their comforting presence was invaluable during that difficult time.

  • The Love we Choose:The love from friends enriches your life in unique ways. It offers a different kind of affection and understanding than what you might get from family. This love is both chosen and reciprocated, making it all the more special.

  • Joy in Company: Being around people who genuinely care for you lifts your spirits. They cheer you on, celebrate your achievements, and make you feel valued, all without any hidden agenda. This emotional nourishment is hard to find elsewhere.

  • Confidence Boost: Friends are your personal cheerleaders. They boost your self-esteem and encourage you to reach for the stars. For example, my sister-in-law is always there to remind me, "You've got this!"


The Power of Honesty and Belonging

  • The Honest Mirror: A true friend will tell you what you need to hear, even when it is hard. When I gained weight, it was a friend who had the courage to ask, "Nite, what's happening? Have you stopped exercising?"

  • Sense of Belonging:There is comfort in knowing you belong to a group that accepts you, warts and all. Reconnecting with old school friends after decades felt like coming home. We support each other through thick and thin in a judgement-free zone.

  • Gossip: Let us be honest, who does not enjoy a bit of gossip? Sometimes, sharing a juicy tidbit is the emotional release you need. It can serve as a mini-vacation from life's stresses, offering a momentary escape.


Lifelong Health and Well-being

  • Keeping You Accountable: Friends can encourage you to make healthier lifestyle choices. Whether it is cutting back on excessive drinking or motivating you to exercise, a good friend will nudge you in the right direction. This form of accountability is a cornerstone of a balanced life, and it often takes a friend to point out when you are veering off course.

  • Mental Sharpness: Friendships are not just about emotional support; they also keep your mind active and alert. Friends challenge us to think differently, to engage in meaningful conversations, and to explore new perspectives. This mental engagement helps keep our minds sharp and opens us up to new ways of thinking, which is particularly important as we age.

  • Increased Lifespan:Friendships can actually add years to your life. Strong social ties have been linked to lower levels of inflammation, better immune function, and even improved heart health. All these contribute to a longer, better quality of life. If you are intrigued by the science that supports these claims, you can explore further here, here, and here.


So, if you find yourself asking, "What if I do not want any of these benefits? What do I lose if I have no friends?" consider this: the absence of friendships can lead to a lack of emotional support, a diminished sense of belonging, and a void that family alone might not fill. Friendships enrich our lives in ways we often do not realise until a moment of need arises. If you have been neglecting your friendships, perhaps now is the time to rekindle those bonds.


Insights for Nurturing Lifelong Bonds: It Takes Two to Tango

Maintaining friendships is not a one-sided affair; it requires mutual effort and sincerity. Here is how you can actively nurture your friendships and keep those precious bonds strong:


The Foundations of Friendship

  • Authenticity: The Cornerstone of Friendship Being authentic is crucial for the longevity of any friendship. People can sense when you are not being yourself. My decades-long friendships have stood the test of time, probably because we knew each other before life got complicated. We met when we were young, and that authentic connection has lasted.

  • Stay in Touch: Physical and Emotional Proximity Regular contact is essential. Physical presence often strengthens bonds, so make time for your friends, even when life gets busy. A quick coffee catch-up or a weekend brunch can go a long way in maintaining a friendship.


The Digital Age and Friendships

  • Digital Connections: The New Age Friendship Bracelet We are fortunate to live in a digital age where friends are just a text or video call away. Use this to your advantage. A simple "How are you?" text can make someone's day and keep the friendship alive.


Trust and Honesty: The Pillars of Friendship

  • Honesty and Trustworthiness Honesty is vital, but it should be tactful. A friendship built on trust and honesty is more likely to endure. Be that reliable friend who can be counted on in times of need.


The Emotional Dance of Friendship

  • Understanding and Flexibility: While compromise can be tricky, flexibility in friendship often shows maturity. It is about understanding the other person's point of view, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone occasionally.

  • Forgiveness: The Healing Touch Friendships are not always smooth sailing. The ability to forgive and move on is often what makes a friendship last. Holding grudges benefits no one.


The Gifts You Can Offer

  • Support and Encouragement: Be there to offer a helping hand or a listening ear. Sometimes, all a friend needs is someone to vent to or seek advice from. Your support can make a world of difference.

  • Positivity: The Magnet of Good Vibes Maintain a positive attitude. Positivity attracts more positivity. Be that friend who uplifts others, not the one who brings down the mood.

  • Be Present: Being present in the moment is invaluable. Listen actively and offer your support when your friends need you. Your attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give.


Friendships enrich our lives in immeasurable ways, offering emotional sustenance and joy. So, let us not take them for granted. Let us invest in these bonds to make them last a lifetime.


Questions for Reflection

  • How do your friendships contribute to your personal growth?

  • How do you incorporate friendships into your self-care routine?

  • What steps can you take if you find yourself in a one-sided friendship?


In the case of one-sided efforts, it is essential to evaluate the friendship's health. Are you the only one reaching out? The only one making plans? If so, it might be time to have an open conversation with your friend about your concerns. Friendships should be mutually beneficial, and it is okay to reassess and even step back if you find that the relationship is draining you.


Concluding Reflections

Friendships are not just a luxury but a necessity that enriches our lives in countless ways. If you have been neglecting these precious bonds, perhaps it is time to rekindle them. After all, friendships are the family we choose.


Join the Conversation!

We invite you to be part of this essential dialogue about the power and importance of friendships. Share your stories, insights, and questions to help us all better understand how to nurture and appreciate these vital relationships in our lives.


🌟 Share Your Story: Have you or someone you know found unique benefits or challenges in maintaining friendships? What steps have you taken to balance social and personal life?

🌟 Take Action: What is one action you could take right now to improve your social life? Share your thoughts, and let us inspire each other to take action.

🌟 Fuel the Discussion: Got questions or need advice? Your curiosity sparks meaningful dialogue. Let us problem-solve together.

🌟 Build Community: Join the dialogue, share your views, and let us build a community through shared experiences and wisdom.

🌟 Be Respectful: Let us keep our discussion respectful and inclusive. Every voice counts, and your empathy enriches us all. For more on this, please see our commenting guidelines.

🌟 Spread the Word: If this topic speaks to you, feel free to share this post to spread the awareness, and be a part of the change.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant with a distinguished reputation for her relentless efforts in championing gender equality and women's rights. In her latest blog post, she delves into the intricacies and significance of friendships and social bonds. Nite's writing style is both accessible and thought-provoking, reflecting her unwavering commitment to social justice and the upliftment of women worldwide.


Nite is a thought leader in her field. Her consultancy work spans sectors like transport, agriculture, and rural development. Through her impactful work, Nite aims to galvanise collective action for a balanced and equitable future for all.

16 views8 comments

8 Comments


Guest
Oct 17, 2023

Due to various reasons, I lost all my childhood friends. It is not the same with the new friends that I have made

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 17, 2023
Replying to

I empathise with your sentiment. The bond shared with childhood friends often carries a unique essence due to shared histories and experiences. However, each friendship, old or new, brings its own unique value and opportunity for growth. Embracing the new while cherishing the old may pave the way for fulfilling connections. It might take time, but forming deep bonds is a journey that often yields rewarding relationships.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #Friendship #SocialBonds #PersonalGrowth #NewBeginnings #CherishedMemories #BuildingBonds #MentalHealth #Wellbeing

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Guest
Oct 08, 2023

The friends we make when we are still young are true friends. Some of the people who make friends with you as an adult have vested interests.

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Guest
Sep 17, 2023

Friendships are not just a social luxury; they are a human necessity. This statement from your text is so correct! In my case, it is a product continuously in the making. I have been making and keeping friends since childhood. I have village friends we used to play with, friends from Mwiri primary school, Busoga College mwiri, Namasagali College, masaka secondary school, Makerere university, working life, traveling life and from different continents! We still communicate and visit each other. One time I had a niece temporarily staying with me and in those few days she was at home, I introduced her to friends from the 60s to today who were coming to check on me. She concluded that indeed I…

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Sep 17, 2023
Replying to

Dear Ali Balunywa II,

Thank you for sharing your enriching perspective on friendship. Your comment brings a wealth of lived experience to our discussion on the essential nature of friendships.

The tapestry of friendships you have woven over the years—from childhood to different stages of education and work life—is truly remarkable. It is a living testament to the power of human connection across time and space. Your story vividly illustrates that friendship is not a stagnant concept but an evolving, growing bond that can stretch across decades and continents.

Your niece's observation about your friendliness and ability to maintain long-term relationships is heartwarming. It speaks volumes about the kind of person you are and the impact you have on those…


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nsabimana canisius
nsabimana canisius
Sep 13, 2023

Keeping in touch with friends does have an excellent and very good impact on our spiritual wellness .

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Sep 13, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Canisius, for your comment on my post about the power of friendship. I completely agree with you that maintaining friendships and nurturing social bonds is indeed essential for our spiritual wellness. It enriches our lives, brings us joy, and positively impacts both our mental and physical health. Thank you for highlighting this important aspect of friendship.

Cheers

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #FriendshipMatters #SocialBonds

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nsabimana canisius
nsabimana canisius
Sep 13, 2023

Treasure them

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