(NEW YORK) — Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, has been dubbed Galentine’s Day in celebration of female friendships.
Just in time, a new book looks at the science of friendship and says the benefits of friendships can be a key to good health.
Friendship: the Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond by science journalist Lydia Denworth explores how friendship can affect our health and wellness, helping to lower stress, boost the immune system, improve sleep and even helping mental health.
“A strong friendship is really good for your biology,” Denworth told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “Friendship is about weathering the stressors of the day-to-day life, and that means you’re there for me and I’m there for you when we need each other.”
Denworth spent years studying available research on the link between social relationships and health, looking at how social relationships can affect the body and change one’s biology.
She said that over the years, scientists looking at social bonds discovered that even animals who have strong social bonds are healthier and live longer.
Her book, which dives into the science and history of friendship, reveals recent studies and research about how critical friendship is to the experience of human life. And some of the research that she’s found includes how people have an “evolutionary drive to connect,” and how toxic or ambivalent relationships can be bad for our health.
While Denworth highlights the science behind friendships, she says that the key to having a good one is to make it a priority.
“We absolutely have to prioritize friendship,” said Denworth. “What women need to know is that being with your friends is an essential relationship and you should plan for it and prioritize it — and invest that time in those relationships at all points in life.”
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