Friendships enrich our lives. When healthy, they can have a huge impact on our mental health and overall well-being. Not only do they offer a strong amount of social support, but some researchers believe that friendships can be as important to your health as nutrition and exercise.

But what is it about these relationships with our close friends that benefit us so much?

Reduce Stress
It’s no secret, when coping with stressful situations, having people to go to for support helps make it more manageable. In stress, cortisol is released in the body which can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose in the bloodstream. So maintaining low levels of cortisol is important for the health of our bodies. Having close friends, even just a few, to turn to during these times can boost your happiness which, in turn, reduces the amount of stress and cortisol your body releases.

Support Goals
For most people, willpower can only get them so far. Often, the goals we set for ourselves get thrown aside when we hit roadblocks. When you have friends that can support the goals you set, many times those goals seem more feasible to accomplish. Whether you have a personal goal, a career goal, or something else entirely, having friends to cheer you on and check up on you along the way helps to make it possible!

Improve Self-Worth
Supportive and honest friends play an important role in building up your self-worth, as well. It’s easy to doubt yourself and your abilities, but having friends come alongside to encourage and build you up can have a big effect on how you view yourself! We are often our toughest critics – being able to have someone that will support us and offer praise when needed can help us to have a lot more confidence in who we truly are.

Having good friends is important. People that can encourage, support, and speak honestly push us to be better versions of ourselves, and they can boost our happiness and decrease stress. Maintaining friendships takes effort but cultivating those relationships and the benefits that come from them makes it all worth it!