The health benefits of friendship

(CNN) – What if there was something that could help make you happier, experience fewer health problems and even live longer? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not.

Jackie Goetsch and Julie Catherman aren’t blood relatives, but they consider themselves family.

“Jackie & I have been friends for thirty five years. We met as freshmen at University of Georgia, where we were sorority sisters at Alpha Gamma Delta, and we have stayed friends whether we’ve lived 3,000 miles apart or lived in the same town.”

They’ve seen each other through all of life’s up’s and down’s. The secret to maintaining their friendship?

“You just work at it all the time and let each other know you’re important in your lives.” said Jackie.

Experts say there are health benefits from friendships that are often under-appreciated.

“We know that people who have a good social support network and frankly good friends do better.  They cope with stress better.  They seem to be healthier, in some studies, they actually live longer.” Clinical psychologist Mark Crawford told CNN.

And they agree that this type of close relationship is an investment worth making.

“It’s much better to have 2-3 really close friends than a whole lot of casual acquaintances. ..because the deeper the friendship, the more benefit it has for us.”

So what can you do?

“Value your friendships, nurture them, invest in them, take the time and make them important. It’s just like that combined sense of force that gives you kind of that peaceful feeling that you’re not alone in whatever you’re doing.”

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