How to live longer: Which type of relationship can boost your life expectancy?
If you want to live a long and happy life, do you not think it’s a good idea to share the experience with others? Lonely souls may want to reach out and make certain types of connections if they plan on living longer.
Having a certain type of relationship with others could benefit your health.
The Mayo Clinic lists five lifetime benefits from utilising your support network.
One of the biggest benefits is that relationships “increase your sense of belonging and purpose”.
Another advantage from connecting with others is that it can boost your happiness and reduce your feelings of stress.
In addition, it could improve your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Throughout life, there will be ups and downs, and a good support network enables you to deal more effectively with traumas.
Traumas can come in the form of divorce, serious illness, job loss or a death of a loved one.
This is why it’s so important to nurture friendships – quality connections trump superficial chit chat.
If you pick your circle right, good friends can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
Harvard Medical School cited research directed by psychiatrist Dr Robert Waldinger.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is an ongoing analysis that’s followed more than 700 men since they were teenagers in 1938.
Even now, around 60 of the original participants – who are in their 90s – are still taking part.
Over the years, researchers interviewed the men face-to-face and collated health data – including brain scans and blood samples.
Regardless if the men came from humble or privileged backgrounds, the researchers found common threads that increased a person’s happiness and health.
Dr Waldinger commented: “People who are more socially connected to friends are happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less well connected.”
In fact, loneliness appears to be toxic. Dr Waldinger noted how isolated people are “less happy” and their “health declines earlier in midlife”.
Moreover, isolation is linked with a “decline in brain function”, and “shorter lives”.
However, in order for friendships to be beneficial to your health, the relationship quality is of great importance.
“Living in conflict is bad for your health,” attested Dr Waldinger. Instead, “warm relationships” tend to be “protective” when it comes to your health.
And this was supported by brain scans, which showed how “being in securely attached relationships is protective in your 80s”.
Dr Waldinger added: “Those people’s memories stay sharper longer.” From his research, good friendships seem to be one part of the puzzle when it comes to living longer.
Should you have a handful (or even one, or two) close friends, do put in the time and effort to keep those bonds strong.
If your social circle is currently lacking, volunteering, joining clubs and interacting with people online can help.
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