Platonic love trumps romantic love. That’s that surprising research behind studies that have found large social networks lower our risk of premature death more than exercise and dieting alone.
A ten-year Australian study found that older people with a lot of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with few friends. Other studies have found that friendships slash our risk of mortality in half, double our chances of recovering from depression, and make us 4.2 times less likely to succumb to a common cold.
How does friendship affect physical health? Friendship literally improves your body’s cardiovascular functioning, how your immune system works, and how you sleep.
Friends seem to affect our immune response. In one study, 276 healthy volunteers were given a cold virus –those with diverse social ties were less likely to develop cold symptoms.
So that’s some of the scientific research behind friendships and healthy life.
How do you make and keep friends, especially after those fractured, isolated times during COVID, when relationships and the rhythm of getting together were disrupted?
Marisa G. Franco, a professor at the University of Maryland and author of “Platonic: How The Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends has these suggestions.
- Take the initiative. Trust your gut when meeting new people.
- Start with a text- message an old friend you’ve meant to connect with.
- Show your gratitude. If a potential friend reaches out to you -grab a coffee or pizza and tell them how happy you are they reached out.
- Invite friends to things you’ve already planned.
- Join a book club, take a class, or play a sport.
By investing in friendships, you are investing in your health and well-being.