You never really needed a reason to hang out with your girls but here is science telling you that you're definitely happier and healthier for doing it.
Ladies, pack your bags because it's time for that much-delayed all-girls' trip! Not convinced enough? Well, research has proven that girls' trips are good for your mental health. In fact, there is actually a study done to show that those trips with your girls can do wonders for your mental health.
Friendships matter more than you think.
In one 2016 study published in a book called Behavior, researchers found that hanging out with your friends can help in the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter otherwise dubbed as the "love hormone" or the "trust hormone". So when you are with your friends, more oxytocin is released which can make you feel happy. It can make you more trusting, generous and friendlier - things that you would look for in your friends.
This is where the real evidence comes in.
A study published in the journal Personal Relationships was conducted by a researcher named William Chopik, an assistant professor of psychology. With nearly 280,000 people involved, he found a link between friendships and a person's happiness and health across their lives. Additionally, he found that for older adults, friendships are a more effective predictor of health and happiness compared to their relationship with family members.
"Friendships become even more important as we age," said Chopik. "Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it's smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest." He conducted two studies.
The first study involved him analyzing survey information about relationships as well as self-rated health and happiness. He collected this data from 271,053 participants from nearly 100 countries who were of varied ages. This study showed results that good friendships contributed better to overall health.
The second study checked data from a different survey about the support or strain a person felt in their relationships. This data from 7,481 older adults in the United States proved how influential friendships are. Those who felt strained in their friendship were more likely to experience chronic illnesses while those who were supported by their friends were happier.
"There are now a few studies starting to show just how important friendships can be for older adults. Summaries of these studies show that friendships predict day-to-day happiness more and ultimately how long we'll live, more so than spousal and family relationships," Chopik said.
"Friendships help us stave off loneliness but are often harder to maintain across the lifespan," he said. "If a friendship has survived the test of time, you know it must be a good one - a person you turn to for help and advice often and a person you wanted in your life."
There are actually multiple studies proving that being around people is good for your health.
This study showed that having friendships can actually extend your lifespan by a certain amount of time. It was conducted by gathering a sample of 148 prior studies which had analyzed the link between social relationships and lifespans. In total, all those studies included more than 308,000 people who were observed for an average of 7.5 years.
Some of the studies looked at a person's social network and their marital status. Other studies assessed the participant's views about their relationships. In the end, the results showed that those with strong social relationships were actually linked to increased chances of survival. These results were found to be valid across age, gender, health status and cause of death.
Consequently, the results of this study showed that those without strong social relationships were at higher risk of premature death by 50%. To put it into perspective, that has the same effect as smoking at least 15 cigarettes a day.
"I think we make a compelling case that social relationships should also be taken quite seriously in terms of reducing risk of mortality," said study researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University in Utah.
A 2012 study showed that loneliness can also increase your risk of dementia. The study was conducted at the Arkin Mental Health Care Center in Amsterdam. Using the data of 2,200 people between the ages of 65 and 86 living in the Netherlands, they were confirmed as being dementia-free at the start of the study. According to the reports, around 1 in 5 participants said they felt lonely, 1,000 lived on their own, 1,000 were unmarried and almost 1,600 said that they did not have any social support.
Over the course of the study, it was found that people who were lonely were 1.64 times more likely to develop dementia than others. They also discovered that 9.3% of people who lived alone developed dementia compared to 5.6% of people who were living with someone. Within that category, 9.2 of those who were unmarried or no longer married developed the disease compared to the 5.3% of married people.
This goes to show that those people who are socially isolated were more likely to experience cognitive decline.
So take a trip with your friends... it'll keep you mentally active and help you survive longer.