When you’re down and out and hug someone, it always feels good. There’s just something about the touch from someone you trust that, even in your darkest moments, can feel like a warm blanket that helps ease the pain. A new study has found that a strong relationship with a loved one can help decrease stress. I guess this explains why whenever sh*t hits the fan, the first person many of us want to run to is Mom.
The study out of Queen’s University in Australia found that that in close relationships, there’s a form of load-sharing and the closeness, whether it be physical or emotional, can ease the stress and pain of a situation that can, without that closeness, feel unbearable. The study looked at 66 adolescent girls and measured their level of stress based on their relationships with their mothers, and found that even without physical contact, those who reported being close to their mom still continued to show signs of load-sharing, in that just knowing someone we love has our back is a major relief in our lives.
But that’s not the only way that non-romantic relationships really benefit you and make you feel like you tackle the world even when it feels like everything is falling apart. Here are six other ways that your friends and family provide exactly what you need to stay healthy and strong.
1. Being A Parent Can Help You Live Longer
Despite the fact that kids can be a pain in the ass, a 2012 study out of Denmark found that being a parent, especially a mom, helps you live longer. When you’re living for not just yourself, but someone else, you tend to be less careless in your behavior and not so much of a risk taker.
2. Having A Sister Is One Of The Best Things In The World For Your Sanity
Even if you and your sister get into spats and bicker and argue over the dumbest things in the world ― as all of us with sisters do ― the fact is that having a sister helps promote a healthier mind. In other words, that sister of yours is aiding in keeping your mental health in check, according to a 2010 study by Brigham Young University. The study found that having a sibling of either gender makes us more caring and kind, but having a sister promotes this positive behavior even more so. Another study found that having a sister to whom we're close also makes us happier people.
3. Being A Social Butterfly Leads To Healthier And Longer Lives
Well, if you don’t think you want to have a kid, then you might as well put on your social pants and start hanging out with your friends more if you want to live a long and healthy life.
A 2010 study by Brigham Young University found that people with “poor social connections” have 50 percent higher odds of death than those who surround themselves with friends. The follow-up to the study found that what that 50 percent comes down to is a life cut short by an average of 7.5 years, just because you wanted to live the hermit life. As to why friends help us live longer, the researchers have yet to discover, but I imagine it has something to do with wine. Drinking wine with your friends is always the best way to spend your time.
4. Being Close To Your Dad Affects Your Sexual Activity In Your Teens
Although your dad is the last person you want on your mind when it comes to having sex, a 2012 study found that close relationships with your dad “strongly influence teen choices about sexual activity.” The study found that teens will wait to engage in sex if they know that their father doesn’t approve, and the closer the bond between father and child, the more likely it is to play a hand in the child’s sexual activity.
5. Close Friendships Give You A Sense Of Purpose
It’s not exactly rocket science that having friends is good for you, but according to the Mayo Clinic, friends can actually give you a sense of purpose because they make you feel like you belong ― and you do! Friendships also make people happy and can increase self-confidence and make you understand just how worthy you really are, because to your friends you’re worth the whole world.
6. Your Loved Ones Make You Actually Want To Make Healthier Choices
According to a 2011 study by Edelman Heath Barometer, it’s the positive and healthy relationships that we have with our friends and family that affect the lifestyle choices we make for ourselves. Of the 15,000 people in 12 countries who were surveyed, 46 percent reported that their friends and family impacted their choices in regards to their health and 36 percent said their loved ones had the biggest influence on their nutrition.
Of course this also means that our relationships can affect our lifestyle choices in negative ways, too, but the healthier the bond we have with this those we love, the healthier we choose to be for ourselves. Basically, it's easier to love ourselves when we have a support network that shows us how much they love us, too.
Want more of Bustle's Relationships coverage? Check out our new video on what it's like to be a bridesmaid for hire: