Time spent with friends—we have a need for it and it’s vitally important for our sense of well-being. But are you aware that spending time with friends is also the best way to beat stress? Think about how you feel just knowing you have some face-to-face friendship time in your near future. Even the anticipation of a well-deserved interlude of wine and laughter has mood-lifting effects brought about by your body’s ability to produce calming hormones. Scheduling time with friends is never a waste of time—it’s a stress-management strategy.
Stress is a natural response of our body when we feel threatened. However, from an evolutionary point of view, our bodies cannot tell the difference between the danger from an approaching wild animal, or the stress of financial or personal problems. We wouldn’t have survived the past few million years without the valuable effects of stress. However financial, marital, and horrible boss problems are usually not life-threatening. And since the primitive part of our brain cannot distinguish between different types of threats, our blood pressure and adrenaline go up and cortisol is released into our bloodstream.
We don’t fight or run away, although our bodies suggest “fight or flight.” That would be an inappropriate response to a present day threat like being chastised by the boss. A more effective approach to dealing with your anxiety and stress would be to schedule some quality time talking with good friends.Through the joy of spending time with loving friends, talking and laughing, your immune system can overcome the bad effects of the stress.
Sure, it can sometimes be a little difficult to make the time, but only if you’re not making it a priority. It’s more important than a clean house and it’s a lot healthier than taking drugs. Spending time in enjoyment with friends is calming. It will break obsessive thinking patterns. Without that break, in the form of relaxing by fun and play, obsessive thinking patterns can lead to depression. It’s more than just a brief escape from life’s stressors, it’s also rejuvenating. It will lift your mood, help you function more effectively throughout the day, and lead to a better outlook on your future. And studies have shown that all of this is better for our health.
The bottom line is this: taking time away from the stresses of daily life can give us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes. Happiness, it turns out, depends more on relationships than just about anything else.