The Science of Friendship

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Is having friends a good thing? As we move into adulthood with responsibilities of a family, work and meeting your partner’s needs sometimes friendships, especially those that have been in place for a long time, fall by the way side and are treated as last in the list.  Then comes the guilt you feel when you eventually meet up! I will admit to you that I struggle to manage my time and make the quality time needed to catch up, time drifts on and suddenly it’s been six months since I’ve seen my best friends.

I decided to do a little research into the science of friendship and discovered that having friends is hugely important to our wellbeing and happiness levels.  As Robert Louis Stephenson said “a friend is a present you give yourself”.

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Friendship makes you braver

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A particularly fascinating study looked at how social factors can influence our perception, in this case of a geographical slant, a steep hill.  Participants when stood looking at the hill with a friend believed it to be less steep when they were stood alone.  A further experiment asked the participant to imagine their friend was there while standing alone.  Again this made the hill appear less daunting to the participant.

This study suggests that just having our friends physically or mentally there enables us to take on greater challenges, be braver and have more confidence.

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Our bodies are wired for friendship

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Genetically our bodies are wired for friendship.  When we build or make a new friendship the connection hormone Oxytocin surges in our brain which helps reduce stress and creates pleasurable feelings.  We literally feel happier when we make a new friend or connect with an old one.

However more importantly negative social interactions could have an effect on our health.  A study carried out by Carnegie Mellon found that negative social interactions increase the risk of high blood pressure and hypertension in older adults, particularly women.  Therefore the more positive interactions that we have, the greater the impact on our health.

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Friendship helps us survive

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Evolutionary psychologists argue that friendship is actually something our ancestors needed for survival.  Having a friend back in our caveman days meant that you had someone to help you hunt and forage and therefore make it more likely that you find food.  Also you had an ally to help protect you in case of attack.  This is genetic pre-wiring so much so that our subconscious minds still check people’s hands when we meet them to ensure that they are not holding a weapon.

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Challenge

Now you know how important that your friends are scientifically to your well-being, I challenge you to make sure you make time for your friends.  I have scheduled the next 6 months with my closest friends to ensure that I see them at least once a month.  This has already helped me feel more positive, as I enjoy spending time with my friends more often and being a more active part in their lives.  Secondly I also gain joy through knowing that I have these booked into my diary, it makes me happy to look forward to these times.  Try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on!

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Level 3 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M3
6
15th Jan, 29th Jan, 5th Feb, 19th Feb, 26th Feb, 4th Mar
May 2024
M4
3
15th Apr, 22nd Apr, 29th Apr
July 2024
M5
3
3rd June, 10th June, 24th June
Nov 2024
M1
3
7th Oct, 21st Oct, 4th November
Mar 2025
M2&M3
6
13th Jan, 20th Jan, 27th Jan, 10th Feb, 24th Feb, 3rd March
May 2025
M4
3
7th Apr, 14th Apr, 28th Apr
July 2025
M5
3
2nd June, 16th June, 30th June

Level 6 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M5
5
25th Jan, 1st Feb, 8th Feb, 22nd Feb, 29th Feb
May 2024
M4 & M7
4
18th April, 25th April, 2nd May, 9th May
July 2024
M3 & M8
5
30th May, 20th June, 27th June, 4th July, 11th July
November 2024
M1
3
10th Oct, 24th Oct, 7th Nov
Mar 2025
M2 & M5
5
30th Jan, 6th Feb, 13th Feb, 27th Feb, 6th Mar
May 2025
M4 & M7
4
3rd April, 10th April, 1st May, 8th May
July 2025
M3 & M8
5
5th June, 12th June, 19th June, 26th June, 3rd July

Level 5 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M5, M15 & M9
4
31st Jan, 7th Feb, 21st Feb, 28th Feb, 6th March
May 2024
M3 & M8
4
10th April, 17th April, 24th April, 1st May
July 2024
M4
3
5th June, 11th June, 26th June
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
9th Oct, 16th Oct, 23rd Oct, 30th Oct, 6th Nov
Mar 2025
M15, M5, M9
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M3 & M8
4
9th April, 16th April, 30th April, 7th June
July 2025
M4
3
4th June, 18th June, 2nd July

Level 4 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M3, M5, M7
6
23rd Jan, 30th Jan, 6th Feb, 20th Feb, 27th Feb, 5th March
May 2024
M4 & M6
4
9th April, 16th April, 23rd April, 30th April
July 2024
M8
3
4th June, 18th June, 3rd July
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
8th Oct, 15th Oct, 22nd Oct, 29th Oct, 5th Nov
March 2025
M3, M5, M7
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M4 & M6
4
8th April, 15th April, 29th April, 6th June
July 2025
M8
3
10th June, 24th June, 8th July