One of the best parts of a good life is having friends to share it with. Whether you are having a meal with friends and family or having a good time with them at the beach, a park, or playing games, sharing part of your life with others makes life more interesting and enjoyable. Now, having and maintaining good relationships has even been found to help you live longer.
Psychologists reveal that humans seem to be hard-wired to be social. People naturally seek friends and they often feel lonely without them. They enjoy having long-term relationships and relationships with others at various levels.
Increased satisfaction with one’s life is often measured by how many friends an individual has, as well as considering the depth of those relationships. Having a permanent relationship – such as in marriage, friends, and other good relationships brings a sense of belonging and increased happiness.
Loneliness Increases Cortisol
When changing environments or moving to a new location people often experience anxiety, loneliness, and possibly depression. These negative feelings increase will cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. Although short-term application of cortisol can be good, the long-term effect of high cortisol levels is harmful.
The Effects of Cortisol
Cortisol prepares the body for fight-or-flight in cases of emergency. Most likely, you are not facing situations that demand either action, but lower levels of cortisol are harmful if you are often or continually stressed. When your body prepares for instant action, the hormone increases your blood pressure, raises your heart rate, puts more sugar into your bloodstream, and limits some functions that are considered non-essential. It suppresses your immune system, digestion, growth, and reproductive functions.
At the same time, cortisol will affect you in several ways – some of which you may experience. You may have headaches, have sleep problems, weight gain, poor concentration and memory, and can develop heart disease.
Good Relationships Increase Oxytocin
The hormone oxytocin is released during good relationships. When you are talking, being with, or just enjoying being around a particular person, your oxytocin levels will increase. It is also called the “feel good” hormone and it is also released when exercising, cuddling, touching or being touched, during sex, and more.
The hormone has many positive effects – among them are the reduction of cortisol and its negative effects. It helps to lower blood pressure, reduces anxiety, relieves pain, and helps to solidify relationships. Reducing inflammation is another benefit – all of which mean better health.
Because of the reduction of cortisol and its harmful effects, relationships are encouraged and should be sought out. They can also be strengthened. Reducing the harmful effects of stress is able to cut your risk of death by as much as 40 percent. Keeping close relationships is apt to enable you to live longer and help you enjoy those times spent together.
Kindness Also Increases Oxytocin
One way to increase oxytocin, in addition to good relationships, is to volunteer. It has even been found to be better than to eat more fruits and vegetables. Other acts of kindness will also increase your oxytocin output, helping you feel good about yourself and enjoy being a help to others.
Even if you cannot physically be with other people, you can talk to them on the phone. Simply communicating with others and seeking to be encouraging or helpful in other ways, can also increase oxytocin levels and your longevity.