The correlation between number of friends and health

July 06, 2016



It has been well documented across a broad body of research that friendships have a psychological and physical influence on health.  

Here are a few benefits of having friends:

  1. Having friends help lower stress levels. Always a good idea to share the burden with someone close. Even if it's the idea someone will be there for you.
  2. Lowers depression.  Friends typically make us happy
  3. Lower anxiety by building a comfort of people
  4. Lower blood pressure with the mental constraint, and allowing us to relax more.
  5. Lower mortality rates. This one should be obvious? ;)
  6. Improved behavioral pathways (such as getting more sleep)
  7. Sharper mind and knowledge. 

We, humans, are social creatures with a pack mentality, therefore require social relationships to be healthy.  Not having these healthy relationships can be compared to having 15 cigarettes a day, obesity or having more alcoholic beverages.  It's just not in our DNA to be alone, and many of these bad habits are contributed through stress..or...simply being lonely.

An area that has received less attention is the correlation between number of friends and the effects it may have on our health.  There really isn't a magic number, because having too little may still leave you feeling lonely, and having too many may also leave you feeling lonely because your friendship isn't tightly bonded.

There are several factors that are involved, and it really comes down to bonding with the right people and not just bonding for the sake of bonding.  

How many friends is healthy?

There is no magic number of friends to keep. This really depends on the individual.  Having friends is important, but finding the right people and balance of them.

Quality friends are much more important than "quantity".  It's ver important to find friends that meet your need for emotional, spiritual, physical and any other support that helps you grow.

Introverts may feel content with far fewer friends than extroverts, with no negative effect on their health. On the other hand, the extrovert personality may experience a more difficult time with fewer friends, and in result affect their health negatively.

They may experience loneliness if their friendship circles are not wide enough, which results in mental strain.  Trust me, as an extrovert, being lonely sucks!

Importance in find true Connection 

With social media these days, it's not hard to "connect" with people.  But what will bring true happiness is not about the actual number of friends, but the sincerity of your bond.  Quality over quantity holds to be much more important here for your health.  An introvert with three really close friends may be just as happy, if not happier, than an extrovert with a large circle of friends.

As your mama always said, "make good friends" holds really true.  Connecting with bad friends could lead to negative effects in your health through stress, anxiety, along with bad habits such as alcohol and drug abuse due to peer pressure.

Some people have a hard time saying no to friends, which becomes stress as well when having too many friends.  They feel a sense of obligatory social presence which may cause frustration, pressure on time and energy to fulfill this social role.  And inability to fulfill this role also may cause stress.  So you see? Having a larger social circle may not always be a great outcome unless it truly brings you joy as a person.

There have been research that shows  people were a lot happier in life if they were satisfied with the friends they had, regardless of the number of friends they had.

Everything is about balance

Even without research, I'm sure you can see the positive effects of good friendships can bring for us mentally and physically.  

As this is just a general article for people to understand the importance of friendship.  The details really depend specifically on each individual's needs.  Everyone should always find a balance in life, whether food, wine, exercise, shopping, FRIENDS!

Here is another blog about how to improve your brain chemistry with a simple habit.

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