Surviving With A Little Help From Your Friends

Posted Sun, 08/01/2010 - 10:00am by Fred Lee

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The Beatles really hit the nail on the head when they sang of getting by with a little help from their friends. That is because a new study has suggested that when people have a strong network of good friends and neighbors, their chances of survival can increase by as much as 50 percent.

The findings are the result of a large analysis of almost 150 studies that examined the relationship between survival and social connections. What they found was that when a person is surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers, it can give a significant boost to their overall health and well-being.

Part of the benefits stem from the fact that when we care for the people around us, we obtain tangible benefits for ourselves. This feeling of responsibility towards other people often gives our lives more meaning and tends to discourage us from taking greater risks.

Unfortunately, in the hectic pace of the modern world, these social connections are often the first to suffer. As relationships are affected by the rigors of daily life, many people lose touch with the proper work-life balance. The consequences of these declines in social interactions can have adverse effects.

According to the study, when daily circumstances lead to a decline in friendship, the adverse health consequences can be tantamount to smoking cigarettes or excessive consumption of alcohol. In fact, the loss of support networks may affect a person's chances of survival more than being obese.

In the study in question, researchers covered four continents in order to follow nearly 300,000 people over the course of seven years. People who maintained the strongest social circles derived the most significant benefits in terms of health and longevity, with a 1.5 greater likelihood of survival at any given age when compared to people who were lonely.

The data applied to people covering a broad range of backgrounds, and the findings remained the same regardless of the ages or the initial health status of the individual.

However, the authors do note that in the modern era of cell phones and text messaging, some people may assume that electronic communication replaces face-to-face human interaction. This, it turns out, could be a mistake and might lead to taking relationships for granted, which could have detrimental physical and emotional consequences.

In fact, some experts go so far as to say that, being the social creatures that we are, human relationships are essential for our very survival, a fact that many of us may agree with. This is particularly true in light of the fact that loneliness and isolation has been linked to depression, mental illness, anxiety, and poor health.

With this in mind, it might not be such a bad idea to give your relationships to family and friends the attention that they are due. Not only will it help your social life, but it just might have a positive influence on your survival.

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