Get by with a little help…

The Spice Girls were all over this with their friendship never ends shenanigans… but having friends in your life is key to a healthy life and can, according to AXA PPP Healthcare even protect you from the common cold.

They told us,

Most of us, when asked to think of all the benefits of having friends, will come up with things like companionship, good laughs, support, conversation, sharing meals together and so on. But there’s one big perk that is often overlooked and worth considering: friends will increase your chances of living a longer and healthier life.

It starts with the heart. It’s probably no accident that it is often referred to as more than a muscle pumping blood and as a source of love, friendship and soul. Research shows that social isolation or a lack of friends puts you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and will cut your life expectancy.

Friendship is a protective barrier against minor illnesses too, including the common cold.

Four tactics to make your friendships strong.

Make friendship a priority. With our hectic lives it’s all too easy for ‘friend time’ to be squeezed out and pushed down your priority list. Don’t let it happen. Schedule time for friends in your diary just as you would a dental appointment or a date. Make the time sacred and don’t cancel unless there is a true emergency. If your friends are many and the time slots in your diary few, think about bringing some friends together!

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Brush up on your listening skills. There’s no greater gift you can give a friend than your undivided attention, lots of eye contact, and the time and space for them to talk about what’s on their mind, knowing you are going to support and not judge them.

Friendships, like any relationship, can become stale if you’re not paying attention. Inject fresh life into them by doing something different and surprising. Change the place and frequency of meeting. Arrive with a bunch of flowers if you don’t normally, and do things on the spur of the moment!

Shy at parties? Worried about how you’re coming across? It may be time to place your ego to the side and exercise your ‘curiosity muscle’, simply by taking a genuine interest in others. All the research shows that it is the art of being genuinely curious and attentive that makes someone come off as a brilliant conversationalist, rather than having lots of clever things to say!