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Surprising ways that friends are good for our health

The more emotionally connected you are to someone, like a close friend, the more you mirror each other’s body language, gestures, and catchphrases.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tuesday, June 8 is National Best Friend Day. 

Over the past year of lockdown and social isolation, many of us have relied on our friends to get through the uncertainty of the pandemic. Frequent communication via phone calls, text messages, and virtual calls with friends has saved our sanity.

Experts say friendships reduce your risk of dying early by 50%, and social isolation/loneliness is just as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. 

Social support from friendships can lower your heart rate and blood rate. Research in the Journal of National Medical Association found that friendships mitigate stress, which in turn, can lower the chance of heart disease.

Good, healthy friendships are like a daily dose of antidepressants. Research shows that when women are stressed out, they release oxytocin, a bonding hormone that gets them to seek out friends and take care of their children. Interestingly, by taking care of their children and seeking out their friends, they release more oxytocin, which helps relax them. 

What’s more fascinating is that this effect is seen in women and not men because men release testosterone when stressed, which counteracts the calming effect of oxytocin.

The more emotionally connected you are to someone, let’s say a close friend in this case, the more you mirror each other’s body language, gestures, and catchphrases. This mirroring happens unconsciously.

You adopt specific behavioral patterns of your close friend. This helps explain why people might ask if you and your friend are related to each other because the body language and behavior can almost be replicas of each other.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline, and I’ll get back to you. While you’re on my page, I’d appreciate it if you give my page a “like."

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