Friday Health CornerHealth

Why Time With Friends is Essential For Your Mental Health

Darasimi pulled up outside the eatery in her area. Feeling bubbly and excited about today’s Friends Hangout, she couldn’t wait to share with her friends all her wins and disappointments of the past month.

 

Staring at the silvery blue Chevrolet parked directly in front of her car, she couldn’t resist a smile from lighting up her face because it was indeed a memorable experience joining this group of God-fearing, intelligent and tech-savvy individuals. Images of their first meeting came to mind and she thought excitedly “What if I had not responded to the invitation, where would I be?

 

 

What is Mental Health: According to WHO, your mental health entails all aspects of your emotional, psychological and social well-being.

 

Being deficient in one aspect means you are not mentally healthy.

 

WHO makes us realize that when an individual knows his or her abilities (strengths or weaknesses), can cope with normal stresses of everyday life, is productive, and contribute to the development of his or her community, this is the major component of a healthy mental life.

 

Who is your friend?

” Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them and it will change your life – Amy Poehler.

 

This quote has been etched in Dara’s memory since the day she stepped into the Lakeside Hotel Conference room.

 

After a series of traumatic events that have ravaged her life since that unforgettable day she lost her pregnancy, Darasimi slipped into a very terrible depression and lost passion for living.

 

She couldn’t imagine anything worse than being barren after several years of marriage only to discover she could never carry a baby to term.

 

Shaking off the sad feelings her reminiscing brought, she ruminated about the quote written in bold red calligraphy style across the wall in her room and asked herself “Who is my Friend”

 

“Friend”. Although many of us use this word every day of our lives, not many know the true meaning behind this word. The person you know as a friend may not necessarily be one. Hence, it is of utmost importance to know who your friend is.

 

To understand the concept of a friend, we must have a grasp of the origin of the word. Friend takes its root from the word ” frēond, frijōndz and freend which means to love or favour. According to the Arabic language, friend comes Sadeeq which means “truth”.

 

Not all friends are friends, some are acquaintances.  An acquaintance is someone you don’t have a close relationship with and it may entail someone you greet daily at work, along the road, or even someone you meet at a group discussion. You don’t have an intimate relationship with this individual to share vital information with him or her.

 

So, who is a friend?

 

There are different stages of friendship and most relationships start at the acquaintance phase before proceeding to the casual friend phase, close friend phase and lastly, the intimate friend phase.

 

It is at the point of intimate friendship that someone is bold enough to talk about having a best friend.

 

Do you have a person you are not afraid to show your vulnerability to? Or a person you have a close affection with and also share common values. A person who is not afraid to tell you the truth about yourself, a loyal individual, is there for you when you need them, not afraid to set boundaries when necessary and understanding.

 

Friendship and Mental Health: THE CORRELATION

 

Have you ever asked yourself why after a long and honest talk or even small talk with a friend, you feel calm, happier and even ready for any challenge that you encounter?

 

Having a good support system is necessary for positive mental health and wellbeing. A friend who is there with you both in the good and bad times. Someone with listening ears and able to help you see things in perspective.

 

Studies have shown that spending adequate and quality time socially has a vital effect on your mental and physical health. According to recent studies, social isolation increases the risk of a person dying prematurely, mental issues like depression and anxiety.

 

Healthy Friendship helps to improve one’s sense of belonging, self-confidence and reduce stress. It is important to choose your friends wisely because the value of your network is pivotal to your health.

 

 

Benefits of spending time with friends:

 

Humans are social animals and constantly want to be acknowledged by people they love and respect. If there is an alteration in this equation, our mental health will be at stake.

  • Reduces/Relieves Stress:

After being diagnosed with situational depression, Dara didn’t know what to do because she was tired of constant disappointments. Suicidal thoughts were creeping through her mind day and night, her marriage was slowly crumbling before her eyes and she felt so far from God.

 

Meeting Chinaza changed her life for the better because in her she found a friend she could depend upon, someone who could cope with her mood swings and even offered the advice that has helped her deal with the uncertainty associated with her current state.

 

Studies have shown that individuals can reduce their stress levels by engaging in positive social interaction. Stress predisposes an individual to headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems, diabetes and anxiety.

 

  • Promotes Sense of Belonging.

“Dara, I want to introduce you to a group where we share issues about life, God’s Word and also talk about his we can be better in all aspects of our lives.” Watching her best friend of six months, she felt threatened that joining this group will affect their relationship. ” You are going to love it, Chinaza said with a grin.

 

After two months of joining this group, Dara made new friends and even felt loved because, through the issues, troubles and trials shared by every one of them, she realized that she wasn’t alone in her pain.

 

She felt accepted just the way she was and although some of their advice felt painful to hear, she knew it was coming from a place of love. When we maintain close friendships it fosters a feeling of belonging and security knowing we have a responsibility to others. This makes life more meaningful.

 

  • Prevents Loneliness

Do you want to be healthy? Then loneliness must be prevented at all costs. The devil is at work during the period a person is lonely to lure him or her into sin.

 

According to studies, loneliness has been found to increase a person’s rate of premature death and make us see social support has not been safe enough.

 

This is where friendship comes into play by protecting one against loneliness. It is not necessary to have a lot of friends but having quality time with one or two people can help prevent loneliness.

 

When you are around someone you trust and care about, signals of safety and security are sent to our brains.

 

  • Serves as Emotional Support

Darasimi was able to transition through the traumatic events as a result of the type of friends she had. Through listening and empathizing, she was able to share her feelings with them and they helped her validate and understand them.

Friendship promotes resilience and the ability to manage distress.

 

  • Promotes Confidence and Self Esteem

Through compliments and positive interactions, friendship promotes connections and closeness between individuals. Having someone or a group of friends who support you by showering you praises and reassuring you when you feel insecure is vital to the development of your self-esteem.

 

3 Tips for making quality friends

 

  • Reach out: Meetings, Volunteering and Meet groups.
  • Be Real: Analyse common interests, hobbies and passions. Show authenticity.
  • Organize Bonding Sessions

 

Jesus is the greatest friend, He is the only one that can bear burdens no other friend can bear. He even died to set us free.

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