Ex­perts ex­plain how friend­ships can af­fect your health and over­all well-be­ing

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle - (With in­puts from Dr Kersi Chavda, con­sul­tant (psy­chi­atric medicine) and Dr Ro­hann Bok­dawala, psy­chi­a­trist) Su­san Jose ■ su­san. jose@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

It is bet­ter to be alone than in bad com­pany,” said Ge­orge Washington, the first Pres­i­dent of the United States. A new study by the Univer­sity of Rochester in USA seems inspired by that say­ing, as it sheds light on how a per­son’s cir­cle of friends af­fects his or her life. Ac­cord­ing to the study, the num­ber of friends you have in your twen­ties helps es­tab­lish a good foun­da­tion for your so­cial in­ter­ac­tions that will take place dur­ing the rest of your life. But, when it comes to your thir­ties, the num­ber of friends doesn’t af­fect you as much as the qual­ity of your friend­ship. This is be­cause as you go through dif­fer­ent phases of adult­hood, hav­ing deep dis­cus­sions about your strug­gles and joys helps you ‘feel bet­ter’, and ul­ti­mately trans­lates to bet­ter health.

“The level of anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion is lower in peo­ple who have more depth in their re­la­tion­ships,” says Dr Parul Tank, con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist and ther­a­pist. Sim­ply put, chan­nel your in­ner Tay­lor Swift dur­ing your twen­ties, and have a troop of friends, but in your thir­ties, try and stick to a se­lect few like Car­rie Brad­shaw does in the hit se­ries, Sex And The City.

Of friends and ‘fren­e­mies’

“Good friends at any age keep you se­cure and happy, and this def­i­nitely helps com­bat anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and trau­matic com­plaints,” says Dr Mad­huri Singh, psy­chi­a­trist. Stress trig­gers cer­tain hor­mones and neuro chem­i­cals in our body, which lower our im­mu­nity, mak­ing us more sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­eases. It has also re­sulted in deaths on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. Good friends help you un­wind and de-stress.

Be­sides, the friends you make when you are young also help you build a men­tal tool-set that boosts your team­build­ing tac­tics, and de­ter­mines how some life skills that are needed for ne­go­ti­a­tion are de­signed.

The other side

Although main­tain­ing a big cir­cle of friends helps you cre­ate a net­work for the rest of your life, ex­perts warn that ex­ces­sive so­cial in­ter­ac­tion can take away from one’s fo­cus in work, stud­ies and fam­ily. Peer pres­sure can also lead to neg­a­tive in­flu­ences like ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol and drug abuse. So, celebrate your friend­ship, but within lim­its.

Re­cent re­searches say that you end up bing­ing a lot more if you are in the com­pany of glut­tons while healthy eaters in­spire you to quit junk food

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