Good girlfriends are hard to find — especially in a place like Hollywood, where Botox, breakups, and betrayals reign supreme, and the girl next door is your rival for a role in the new Ryan Reynolds movie. It would be easy to lose yourself in the hype and sell out your best gal pal to get ahead, but bullying and belittling someone else is not the secret to happiness; it’s a recipe for disaster. Maintaining friendships outside Hollywood isn’t easy either. Work, kids, and other daily stresses often leave no time for leisure or, by extension, friends. One Australian study found that women spend only 5 percent of their time each week with pals.
“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in an interview for the New York Times. “It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”
Research backs that up: One University of Michigan study found that spending quality bonding time with a girlfriend led to increased levels of the hormone progesterone, which helps boost mood and alleviate stress. Another study, from Harvard Medical School, concluded that women with lots of friends were more likely to be living a joyful life. Read on for more details about the power of friends.
Girlfriends Are Good for Your Health
“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, PhD, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message is that friends make your life better.”
Better — and healthier. In one 10-year Australian study, women with large circles of friends were up to 22 percent less likely to die within a given time period than their less socially active counterparts. And according to the Harvard study, they’re also less likely to get colds, suffer depression, and develop age-related physical impairments. In fact, research shows that not having friends is as detrimental to your health as smoking or being overweight.
Clearly, pals are pivotal to a happy, healthy life. Just ask these celeb BFFs, who’ve seen each other through every kind of life change there is, from birth to death, heartache to hope.