International Day of Friendship: Let’s Explore the Importance of Human Connection

The relationships we create and maintain greatly impact our daily lives. Off the top of our heads, we can all think of someone who makes our days more fulfilling, less lonely, or even just a little bit brighter. Whether this is your best friend calling you to ask about your day, your roommate having dinner ready for when you get home, or even that one amazing coworker bringing in homemade muffins on Friday morning, every relationship counts.  

On July 30th, 2024, we celebrate the International Day of Friendship across the globe. Though this holiday is not extremely well-known, it is a wonderful opportunity to emphasize how friendship can foster a sense of community between individuals from all cultures and backgrounds.  

The International Day of Friendship was Proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly to promote a universal message of peace and unity. (United Nations, 2024) The holiday encourages an understanding and appreciation for diversity and the rejection of violence to move us towards a world with less conflict. (United Nations, 2024) International Day of Friendship aims to create an open dialogue regarding mutual understanding and reconciliation. What better way to achieve the goal of unity and peace than to highlight a state of mutual trust and support? Let’s take a look at how this form of human connection affects our mind and body. 

Studies have shown that individuals who maintain friendships are less likely to die from all causes, including heart problems, a range of chronic illnesses, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index. (Abrams, 2023; Pruthi, 2022) According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, “When people are low in social connection—because of isolation, loneliness, or poor-quality relationships—they face an increased risk of premature death. But don’t worry, there’s good news! Research suggests that friendships can be formed and maintained at any age, so it is never too late to begin or nurture the relationships in your own life. (Abrams, 2023) In addition, even minimal interaction can benefit our health, so it’s okay to start small. (Abrams, 2023) 

Psychological research studies have concluded that platonic friendships are vital for the longevity of our lives as well as our overall physical well-being. (Pruthi, 2022) A research article written by Sandhya Pruthi M.D. titled, “Friendships: Enrich Your Life and Improve Your Health” focuses on the effect that close relationships have on our mentality and emotional well-being. The research examines how friendships reduce our stress, help us cope with traumas, boost our self-confidence, and decrease feelings of loneliness. Close relationships, when positive, have also been shown to help us avoid unhealthy habits or encourage the change of harmful habits if we are already engaged in them. According to the American Psychological Association, people who engage in close friendships are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. (Abrams, 2023) 

So, you may be wondering, “how can I become a better friend? Or, how can I form and maintain meaningful relationships?” Well, I’ve got you covered! If you are looking to meet new people, try one or more of the following: 

  • Attend community events, we have so many in Manchester this summer! Find them here 
  • Volunteer in your community.  
  • Extend and accept invitations. Just say yes! 
  • Take up a new hobby. 
  • Take a long walk around your neighborhood or one of our beautiful parks. Say hello to a stranger! 
  • Learn more about your neighbor or co-worker that comes from a different culture and find what you have in common. Celebrate what makes you different from each other. 

To better nurture and grow your friendships: 

  • Open up about your feelings. 
  • Make yourself as available as possible. 
  • Support and encourage differences in opinion and culture. 
  • Offer a helping hand whenever you can! 

In the Spirit of the International Day of Friendship, how will you become a better friend today? Consider taking time to focus on enriching the relationships in your life and exploring new ones, as we all flourish into better individuals and a Better Manchester. 

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