The Health Connection

friendsSupportive social connections do a world of good for your emotional and physical health. This is especially true as you age, so nurture those ties that feed your soul.

Remember that old Barbra Streisand song? The lyrics suggest that people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Studies now show that they are also among the healthiest people in the world.

Positive and supportive social relationships provide a greater effect on longevity than any of the usual suspects like not smoking, moderate alcohol use, physical exercise, or BMI. And they help us weather the storms of life and expand our joy.

Some relationships, though, detract from your well-being. Those are people who drain your energy and leave you feeling badly. Those relationships are toxic and should be limited or avoided to preserve your peace of mind.

Maintaining supportive relationships provides important health benefits. Having someone you can confidently confide in, laugh with, and who accepts you as you are makes life richer. Close relationships come in all forms—friends, lovers, spouses, or family members. And they can range widely in age and location.

Whether you go out together or just talk on the phone, whether you connect frequently or only a few times a year—rather than the type or quantity of contacts, it is the quality that matters. Even a brief exchange can brighten your day.

And you don’t need a whole lot of friends. Typically, the older we get, the fewer friends we keep. This is less about losses due to death and more about focusing on relationships that are most meaningful. Over time, we tend to let go of superficial ties in favor of those that really matter.

The happiest, healthiest people are often involved in at least one close relationship. Treasure your supportive buds. Reach out to them and be there in return. They increase your health and well-being and make life lots more fun.

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