TOXIC

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - SMALL STEPS -

has to be a healthy bound­ary. A healthy friend­ship means I can say no to you or dis­agree with you, and you might get up­set with me but we carry on. We are able to get over that bridge,” he adds.

The best friend­ships pro­vide emo­tional, prac­ti­cal and in­for­ma­tional sup­port. There are cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics that de­fine a good qual­ity friend­ship, Dr Mur­phy ex­plains, and th­ese in­clude em­pa­thy, trust, self­less­ness, shared in­ter­ests and fun.

9

THEY CAN EN­COUR­AGE PER­SONAL DE­VEL­OP­MENT AND GROWTH

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Mur­phy, it can be a real boon to have friends who come from “dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and back­grounds. That can al­low us to grow, in terms of learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment, re­gard­less of the age and stage you are in life.”

10

A SENSE OF BE­LONG­ING IS VI­TAL TO OUR WELL-BE­ING

“Pri­mates, hu­mans and birds thrive bet­ter in the pres­ence of so­cial con­nec­tions,” says Dr Mur­phy. It seems that we are just wired that way.

“If you have friend­ships, that is as­so­ci­ated with a sense of be­long­ing,” ex­plains Dr Ann-Marie Creaven. “And that can pro­tect you from the de­vel­op­ment of men­tal health is­sues like de­pres­sion, and lone­li­ness in par­tic­u­lar.”

It’s not just hav­ing in­di­vid­ual friend­ships that mat­ter, but in­ter­con­nected cir­cles of friends. “We also know that be­long­ing to mul­ti­ple so­cial groups, and iden­ti­fy­ing with those is im­por­tant. It’s not just that you are part of a group, but that you iden­tify as part of that group that gives you a sense of be­long­ing.”

Friends are es­pe­cially im­por­tant dur­ing times of cri­sis and tur­bu­lence

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