Once we enter the education system aged 4, a large proportion of us spend the next 12 years (until we are 16) growing up with a set of friends. Throughout these years everyone’s circle of friends slowly begins to decreases – people move school, you fall out or just drift apart.
When we leave school, more than likely, everyone’s circle is at the smallest point it has been through out their education life spam – with us having 5-6 very close friends, who once we move to university, vow to remain in contact with.
University is an interesting time… you meet a lot of people, the majority when you are drunk, and it’s the first time you aren’t “grouped” together with individuals because you were all born between September – August and attend the same school. This makes friends, at first, hard to come bye – everyone is alone without really knowing anyone else.
Over the next few years, you form connections/relationships with like minded people who you spend, without a doubt, some of the best years of your life with – the drunken stories, 3 am pizza’s, missing lectures all while being completely broke. The collective feeling that you are “all in this together” and sharing the same problems/issue is what Student Problems was founded on, everyone being in the same boat.
At this age, everyone just laughs off their problems, gaining weights, having no sleep, having no money, having no food, having no idea what to do in your life.
All of it is met with “Oh well – I’m a student”
As we leave University our close circle who we spent 3/4 years with dispersing across the U.K – the friends 2 from school who we kept our promise to stay in touch are traveling and you come back home – feeling slightly alone and reality begins to set in.
For me – I took a different path, however, the connections with friends remained the same, as you start a career you make new friends as new people come into your life. The one thing I discovered about myself and relationships with my close contacts was that the older I got, the more I isolated my emotions – refusing to speak to my friends about problems.
A typical night would be everyone getting together, drinking, laughing and having fun – this always lead to more drinks, longer nights and better parties. However soon it’s possible to fall into this as a cycle – when your entire time with your friends is spent drunk, or browsing through social media – both these actions actually impact our health, as this isn’t quality time.
A number of studies have highlighted the importance of friends and good relationships to health, Here are some of the findings:
- Socially engaged adults age more successfully. According to surveys of women over age 60, those who are socially engaged and visit with friends and family throughout the week are happier as they age.
- Friends can help you achieve your weight and fitness goals. Encouragement and just sharing goes a long way to boosting your willpower.
- Happiness is catching. If you have a friend you consider to be happy, you are more likely to be happy and you are able to spread that happiness to the people around you. A study of 4,739 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study between 1983 and 2003 showed that people tend to cluster into happy or unhappy groups, and happiness appears to spread not just to those immediately inside the social group, but to their contacts as well. Having happy friends who live less than a mile away was an especially powerful predictor of happiness.
So next time you see one of your friends, spend quality time together – don’t just get drunk – do something different – go on a walk, a bike ride, a swim and spend quality time together.
Importantly – ask each other if you are okay.