July 30th is International Friendship Day! I have a lot of great friends here in my hometown, but also have many friends across the border in the US, as well as scattered other places in the world. While international friendship day is a day to celebrate friendships in general, it’s kind of fun to be able to focus on those friendships that are truly international, spanning borders and oceans, too!
Health Benefits of Friends
There are many reasons having friends is good for your health!
- Positive peer pressure. While the wrong friends can be detrimental to your health, the right ones can help you to make positive changes, like exercising more, eating healthier, or resolve undesirable habits such as helping you quit smoking or drink less alcohol. 
- Keep your cognitive skills sharp. Feeling lonely is associated with greater risk of developing dementia in older adulthood, one study from the Netherlands found.  Having more solid connections to those around you, may make you feel less socially isolated, and keep your mind sharp as you age.
- Decrease your heart attack risk. Risk of having a first time heart attack was 50% greater in those who reported having few or no friends compared to those who had a strong social group. Similarly, women who had more social support were less likely to die during the study.  Women who had more support after a heart attack were likely to have lower abdominal fat and blood pressure two years following their heart attack. 
- Decreased stress—brain and body. Those who had close friends to lean on during a stressful even experienced lower rates of increased heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations. 
So, even more of a reason to phone up an old friend you haven’t talked to in awhile, or even go make a new friend! As an adult, it can feel hard to make new friends, but consider taking a class, going out with friends and their friends, attending an event in the community, joining a club or sport, volunteering, or joining a group at a local faith community (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.).  There are lots of ways to meet new people!
Friends and Chronic Illness
If you live with a chronic illness or health condition, it’s great to have friends who also live with the same diagnosis. They can help you strategize, learn new things, and remind you that even when things are tough, you’re not alone!
You might even want to consider your medical ID bracelet like a “friendship bracelet”, encouraging your friends who need one to wear one, too.
If you are a part of a support group, contact us to learn about our patient support group bracelet discount program—we can either provide a special coupon code, or provide a group discount for bracelets engraved the same, such as type 1 diabetes bracelets for camps, cancer medical ID for support groups, or autism bracelets or key/shoe tags for groups that support those with autism and their families. Encourage one another to stay safe by wearing medical ID!