Bad friends and not having friends are incredibly dangerous to your health. You may not know about the physical and mental health problems they can create. Contrary to what many people think, having no friends and overwhelming feelings of loneliness are as bad as having the wrong type of friends.
There’s a reason why parents are often so concerned about who their children hang out with. They know it can define their futures.
This article will go into why friends are such a big influence on your health.
The Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed a 12-year study into the cognitive decline of those with feelings of loneliness and depression. They studied over 8,000 people, all with different conditions in their lives.
What they concluded was that those with feelings of loneliness and depression saw a 20% decline in their cognitive ability. It showed that those with no friends were more likely to lose their critical thinking ability. Mentally, this is problematic because it can lead to a lack of ability to make the right decisions. As you get older, this can cause serious problems.
There’s strong evidence to show that a lack of good friends can lead to a decline in your physical health. Study after study has revealed that people who don’t have strong social bonds are more likely to experience health problems.
Here are some of the comparisons to help you understand the scale of the problem. Having a lack of social interaction is the equivalent of:
- Smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
- Becoming an alcoholic.
- Never exercising.
- Being morbidly obese.
The problem is you can never see the dangers of not gaining the social interactions you need. But these studies didn’t exclusively use people who had zero interaction. It took into account people who simply had a lack of friends or the wrong friends.
How Physical Health Changes Happen in Toxic Friendship Circles
Your physical health will change if you are hanging out with the wrong people. It’s relatively easy to see how this happens because of the environments you are likely to be hanging out in.
First of all, it’s important to define that a bad friend is usually someone with bad habits of their own. These habits tend to rub off on the people around them. This is why so many alcoholics tend to congregate in bars as ‘drinking buddies’.
Physical health changes happen for a variety of reasons. The main one is you are likely to be hanging out in places where you are tempted by various vices. For example, you may be spending your evenings at the local bar.
Without any guiding hand to tell you not to have that last beer, you are placing yourself on an already slippery slope.
The Stress of Bad Friends
A common scenario is where you have lots of friends who enjoy nothing more than either complaining about their lives or complaining about someone else’s life. While there’s nothing wrong with gossip from time to time, if it’s constant this can lead to a huge amount of stress.
You are no longer worrying about what you are doing. You are expending your mental energy on what other people are doing. This is precisely why social media is often so harmful to people when used excessively.
As this stress builds up, it can impact all areas of life. Here are some of the negative effects of a large amount of stress:
- It wears down your willpower to resist temptation.
- You can never truly relax because your mind is constantly in a state of overdrive.
- It influences your mood. Stressed people tend to be angry and more irritable.
Reversing the Trend
It can be difficult to admit that you have been hanging around with the wrong people. But it’s never too late to change your ways. If you need to find new friends, now is the time to do it. Don’t wait because the problem will only get worse. Reversing the trend requires you to take a stand. Decline an invitation to go to the bar and take yourself away from your usual haunts. Focus on how you are going to find new friends and where you might meet them.
There are so many negative health benefits of hanging out with the wrong kind of people. It can be difficult to initiate change if you are already exhausted from years of bad habits. However, you can make the change. You have the strength to do it.
It will take time, to manage, but there’s no reason why you can’t do it. How are you going to improve your health today?