23 min

Episode 6: Friendship Is Anybody Out There?

    • Mental Health

After a year of social distancing and isolation, the power and value of our friendships has never been more appreciated. And what's really come into focus is that healthy social connections is one of the best antidotes to loneliness. However, there's a deeper, evolutionary reason behind this longing to see our friends in-person again: face-to-face interactions with a few dear pals actually produces a surge of good hormones that makes us feel happy and less lonely, while boosting our immune systems and staving off viruses and even mental decline.

Lydia Denworth, a science journalist and author of the book, "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond," helps explain the science behind the life enhancing role of social connection. Sharing human stories and research findings, she brings to life the benefits of friendships. We learn, for instance, that the quality of a few meaningful relationships is more important when predicting mortality rates and happiness in old age than income, education or even cholesterol levels.

Ms. Denworth also reminds us that hanging out with friends should never be optional or something that's squeezed in between work and family obligations. Make socializing a priority, she advises, because when we get together with our close buddies, we're doing something fundamentally important -- something that's good for our health and for the health of our friends.

After a year of social distancing and isolation, the power and value of our friendships has never been more appreciated. And what's really come into focus is that healthy social connections is one of the best antidotes to loneliness. However, there's a deeper, evolutionary reason behind this longing to see our friends in-person again: face-to-face interactions with a few dear pals actually produces a surge of good hormones that makes us feel happy and less lonely, while boosting our immune systems and staving off viruses and even mental decline.

Lydia Denworth, a science journalist and author of the book, "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond," helps explain the science behind the life enhancing role of social connection. Sharing human stories and research findings, she brings to life the benefits of friendships. We learn, for instance, that the quality of a few meaningful relationships is more important when predicting mortality rates and happiness in old age than income, education or even cholesterol levels.

Ms. Denworth also reminds us that hanging out with friends should never be optional or something that's squeezed in between work and family obligations. Make socializing a priority, she advises, because when we get together with our close buddies, we're doing something fundamentally important -- something that's good for our health and for the health of our friends.

23 min