Social Anxiety Disorder Coping 6 Friendship Benefits: Why It's Important to Stay Close to Your Friends By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 22, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Physical Health Healthy Behaviors Emotional Support Confidence Building Stress Reduction Motivation Frequently Asked Questions Friendships can enrich your life in many ways. Good friends teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. They encourage you to keep going when times get tough and celebrate your successes with you. But friends do a lot more than give you a shoulder to cry on; they also have a positive impact on your health. Some research even says friendships are just as important to your well-being as eating right and exercising. So how do friendships contribute to your well-being? Press Play for Advice On Making Friends Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring best-selling author Eric Barker, shares why friendship contributes to your overall well-being and how to build strong friendships. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Friends Are Good for Your Physical Health It turns out that healthy relationships actually contribute to good physical health. Having a close circle of friends can decrease your risk of health problems like diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Having strong social ties can also decrease feelings of loneliness, which evidence shows can take a toll on your longevity. According to a 2010 review, people with strong relationships have half the risk of premature death from all causes. Social isolation and loneliness are linked to a variety of health issues such as high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart disease, and even cancer. Friends Encourage Healthy Behaviors One possible explanation for those health benefits is that friendships can help you make lifestyle changes that can have a direct impact on your well-being. For example, your friends can help you set and maintain goals to eat better and exercise more. They can also watch out for you and give a heads-up when any unhealthy behaviors (like drinking too much) get out of hand. Additionally, people are more motivated and likely to stick to a weight loss or exercise program when they do it with a buddy. It's much easier to get out and stay active when you have a friend by your side. That friend may also suggest activities that you would not have considered on your own—thus, pushing you outside your comfort zone to challenge your anxiety. Reaching Out to Others Has a Greater Impact Than You'd Expect Friends Give You Emotional Support If you find yourself going through a hard time, having a friend to help you through can make the transition easier. Research also shows that happiness is contagious among friends. One study of high school students found that those who were depressed were twice as likely to recover if they had happy friends. Likewise, kids were half as likely to develop depression if their friends had a "healthy mood." Dealing With No Support from Family When You're Depressed Friends Help Build Your Confidence Everyone has self-doubts and insecurities every now and then. But having friends who support you plays a big role in building your self-esteem, or how much you appreciate and love yourself. Supportive friends can help you feel more confident by offering praise and reassurance when you're feeling unsure. They'll shine a light on just how amazing you are and how much you have to offer others. Friends Help You Beat Stress Everyone goes through stressful events. If you know you have people you can count on, you may be less likely to even perceive a tough time as stressful. Spending time with friends can also help reduce stress. According to Harvard Medical School, "social connections help relieve levels of stress, which can harm the heart's arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system." Friends can also help you cope with stressful situations. According to one small study, when children hang out with their friends during a stressful situation, they produce less cortisol, a hormone released when the body is under stress. As the song goes: “We all need somebody to lean on.” A lack of friends can leave you feeling lonely and without support, which makes you vulnerable to other problems such as depression and substance abuse. How to Create Social Support in Your Life Friends Push You To Be Your Best Friends can also provide a positive influence. If you make friends with people who are generous with their time, help others, or are ambitious or family-oriented, you are more likely to develop those values yourself. Great friends have the power to mold you into the best version of yourself. They see you and love you for who you truly are. They encourage you and push you to do better and be the person you want to be—your "ideal self." Frequently Asked Questions What makes someone a friend? There are many different components of friendship. If someone is loyal to you, honest with you, shares many of your interests, and is there for you when you need them, you would likely consider them a friend. What is the purpose of having friends? Many of the benefits of friends could be considered evolutionary—having a group of friends can create feelings of safety and social inclusion. Caring for others, and having others that care for you in turn, can help foster a collective purpose and feelings of self-worth. 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Yang YC, Boen C, Gerken K, Li T, Schorpp K, Harris KM. Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(3):578-583. doi:10.1073/pnas.1511085112 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLoS Med. 2010;7(7):e1000316. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015;10(2):227-237. doi:10.1177/1745691614568352 Craddock E, vanDellen MR, Novak SA, Ranby KW. Influence in relationships: A meta-analysis on health-related social control. Basic Appl Soc Psych. 2015;37(2):118-130. doi:10.1080/01973533.2015.1011271 Hill EM, Griffiths FE, House T. Spreading of healthy mood in adolescent social networks. Proc Biol Sci. 2015;282(1813):20151180. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.1180 Harvard Medical School. The health benefits of strong relationships. Adams RE, Santo JB, Bukowski WM. The presence of a best friend buffers the effects of negative experiences. Dev Psychol. 2011;47(6):1786-1791. doi:10.1037/a0025401 Shadur J, Hussong A. Friendship intimacy, close friend drug use, and self-medication in adolescence. J Soc Pers Relat. 2014;31(8):997-1018. doi:10.1177/0265407513516889 Houle J, Meunier S, Coulombe S, et al. Peer positive social control and men's health-promoting behaviors. Am J Mens Health. 2017;11(5):1569-1579. doi:10.1177/1557988317711605 By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Social Anxiety Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.