July 30 is International Friendship Day. According to Google, “International Friendship Day was declared by the United Nations in 2011 to foster friendships and bridge the gap between race, religion, and other determinants keeping people from enjoying friendship with each other. It’s a campaign promoting unity within diversity!”

Having healthy relationships, including friendships, is important. There are many benefits to having healthy relationships and this article will go over a few of them.

Benefit: See from another’s perspective

As International Friendship Day was created to promote friendship and relationships between all “race, religion, and other determinants,” a great benefit to start with is allowing one to see other’s viewpoints.

Our worldview, or our collection of attitudes, values, stories and expectations about the world around us, is developed through experience. Imagine living in a world where you have never experienced fruit. You could potentially go your whole life thinking fruit is nasty, or even not knowing it exists at all.

Our worldview is just like that. If we go our whole lives only seeing the world from our individual perspective, we would miss out on a lot! Having relationships with people from different cultures, backgrounds, and worldviews allows us to expand our viewpoints- to experience things and see things from a perspective that we would not have seen otherwise. It makes the world a better place and more colorful!

Benefit: Good for your Health

According to the Mayo Clinic, having healthy relationships can have major positive impacts on your mental and physical well being. Friends can help one celebrate good times and also be there during hard times. They can push us to participate in healthier activities, and even make them more fun if they are activities you do together! Some studies have shown that having good relationships even reduces depression and lower blood pressure.

Friendships also allow us a safe space to be ourselves, which ultimately helps one’s self confidence and self-worth. When we have solid relationships, we feel more comfortable with ourselves, which ultimately leads to being happier overall!

Benefit: Lower Stress

Having good relationships can lower your stress levels. This is also a health benefit, but one that deserves it’s own section!

Friendships can lower your stress for a variety of reasons. For example, laughing with friends is a common occurrence in most situations. Laughing can reduce anxiety and release physical signs of stress. It can even increase endorphins, which is a “feel good” hormone in your brain.

Friendships can also lower your stress due to having someone to experience good and not so good times with. They allow you to process feelings, experience new things, enjoy new activities, and lower your walls and truly be yourself. All of those things combined generally reduce one’s stress level.

Benefit: Feeling less Isolated

Great friendships also help one to feel less isolated. Friends are more likely to be there for someone during hard times. This could be grief, life changes, or trauma. When we have a support system, it can make hard times a little more bearable knowing we are not alone.

Friendships are also great during happy times! Having someone to connect to about everyday things, enjoy activities with, or even do hobbies together also helps reduce the feelings of isolation. When we enjoy life with others, it makes our time spent together feel more meaningful.

Making Relationships that Last

Although we have talked about why friendships are important, we haven’t talked about how to develop strong friendships. In general, my rule is quality over quantity. Most people do not have the time or mental capacity to be friends with everyone they meet. This is not to say you shouldn’t be friendly, but not all acquaintances become solid friendships that last.

Developing good friendships centers on having relationships that have trust, compassion, empathy, honesty, and independence. Notice I didn’t say common hobbies or close location. Although having common interests or having proximity is helpful in establishing friendships based on common grounds, it is not essential.

Many people meet partners online, just as you can meet friends online. The goal is to find people you can go through life with and enjoy each other’s company. Visiting local places that center around activities you are interested in is one way to develop friendships, as well as meeting new people online in chat rooms or digital events centering around activities you are interested in.

Having good friendships benefits us through lowering stress, helping our health, reducing feelings of isolation, and allowing us to see the world from another’s perspective.