Here’s a scary statistic for you. Loneliness is more likely to kill you than obesity. This has been concluded by one of the biggest meta study – or study of studies – ever done into the subject. And yet, for the longest time many of us didn’t pay enough attention to our friends and loved ones. Instead, what was more important was the career and the status that the money earned there could buy.

Fortunately, a lot of people are now starting to see the light. More and more people are trying to make time for friends, family and those all-important experiences which make us far happier. To help that trend accelerate that little bit, let’s look at some of the advantages we experience from close relationships – particularly the mental benefits.

It begins when we’re young

When children are young, they use the people around them to gauge what they should do and what is appropriate behavior. For that reason, it is already very useful for children to have friends and close family members as this will give them a far wider range of people to look to for cues as to how we get along with other people and resolve conflict.

If children do not have such people around them, then they start their lives with a disadvantage at least in this regard. They’ll have to play catchup when they get into more social environments, like schools and kindergartens.

By far the most important relationship for a child is their relationship with their parents. This relationship is the model they use for all future relationships. For that reason, if they have a bad relationship with their parents then they can develop an attachment style which can be problematic throughout their lives.

In other words, it’s especially important for young children to have the best possible relationships with their parents, to develop the right attachment style, as well as the opportunity to meet numerous peers so they can learn the rules of social engagement early. This will make it far easier for them to be well adjusted adults later in life.

Relationships for adults

Interestingly, in this age of social media a lot of people seem to see how social they are by how many friends they have – particularly their friendship counter on the social media platforms. The thing is, however, that what we should pay attention to isn’t just how many friends we have but how many truly close friends we have.
The thing is, often the more friends you have, the less time you have to spend with each individual friend. That can be unfortunate as research demonstrates that our close friends are incredibly important to us. In fact, as we get older close friends end up being more important than family. That’s not really that surprising, for – as many writers have written – you can choose your friends while you can’t choose your family. What’s more, most family affairs end up being quite stuffy, while friendships are freer and easier.

So how does friendship help your mindset?

The research shows that those people who do not feel they have enough social support are far more likely to feel anxious and depressed. In the meantime, those who do have enough support report higher belonging, a greater sense of purpose, more happiness, less stress, a better sense of self-worth and more self-confidence.

Even better, those that have good friendships on which they can depend find it far easier to recover from such things as traumatic experiences and loss. In this way, they offer you a protection from the vagaries of life which can help, whether you’re feeling blue or not.

There is even evidence that those people who suffer from mental illness can benefit a great deal from maintaining their friendships. This seems to go contrary to the feelings that many people with mental illness have, where they want to see their friends less – possibly because they’re embarrassed or don’t think their friends can understand what they’re going to. That might be true. But just because they don’t understand doesn’t mean there is no benefit.

For that reason, it is important to try and reach out. It doesn’t even have to be to discuss your problems. Sometimes the simple act of being together can already be helpful and set you off on a more positive trajectory.


Do note that not all friendships are equal. There are friends that lift you up and friends that push you down. As you can probably guess, friendships that put you down actually are more strenuous, while friendships that lift you up are the contrary.

That means that you shouldn’t stick with friendships simply because. If you do not feel that a friendship is uplifting, then it may be best to take a few steps back and spend that time finding more suitable friends. Of course, that can be difficult in times of stress.

For that reason, it is often important to maintain those relationships that are especially important to us in those times when we’re at our best. After all, as Shawn Achor discusses in his book the Happiness Advantage, friendships with which you can weather the storm are built when the sun is shining. For that reason, whenever you’re experiencing an upswing, make sure that you take the time to try and reach out to others as much as possible.

Author's Bio: 

Alaine Gordon is young and talented content manager at Essays Solutions. She has been writing professionally since 2010 about almost everything, starting from psychology and to the finance. Alaine Gordon graduated from the University of Colorado with B.A. in Journalism, 2011. She is open-minded, creative person who loves to make the people smile. Her credo is ‘Life is a fun enterprise’. In her free time she loves traveling, reading science fiction and knitting. Her huge dream is to visit every single country in the world.