The people we have in our lives can either be an asset, helping us to become the best we can be or our worst nightmare, preventing us from achieving our goals. This article will discuss our peers' powerful influence on our choices and ways to deal with them.
Humans have the capacity to form social connections. They include families, workplace teams, religious groups, political alliances, and organizations. People tend to congregate with those who like them or fit their ideals. These associations can play a key role in how they view health and take care of themselves.
Health Benefits of Friends
Having good friends can be beneficial in many ways. Here are a few reasons to have good, quality friends:
- Help cope with challenges in life, including illness, health issues, and death of loved ones
- Can improve self-confidence and self-esteem
- Reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness
- Increase sense of purpose and belonging
- Motivate you to be the best version of you
On average, the more friends a person has and the more time spent with them, the happier a person is. Studies on friends confirm its importance: having many friends improves physical and mental health, and making more than one friend has been found to increase an individual’s health measure by 6.6%. 
In another study, social connection was found to help people maintain a healthy body mass index, control blood sugars, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health. Conversely, the same study found that social isolation harms health and can increase depressive symptoms and mortality. 
The Dangers of Negative Influence
While the benefits of friends have been extensively studied, it’s important to note how much of an influence they can have. “Peer pressure” is often considered a teenage phenomenon, but people of all ages tend to care what others think to some degree. Here are a few examples of poor health choices that negative influences could cause:
- Eating unhealthy foods
- Taking drugs
- Drinking alcohol
- Not exercising
- Bullying others
In addition, the negative influence of others could increase the risk of addiction in several areas. Associating with the wrong type of friends and partaking in their bad habits continuously could potentially lead to problems with various forms of addiction:
- Food addiction
- Internet addiction
- Sex addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Shopping addiction
The more time spent with people, the greater probability you pick up their habits, good or bad. Over time, these activities could become addictive and harmful to a person’s overall health.
Dopamine and Addiction
When humans do something pleasurable, the body releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter and hormone in the brain that can cause feelings of arousal, pleasure, and reward. The behaviors listed above can increase dopamine production, and the continuous need for that feeling could become an addiction. Studies indicate the release of dopamine is critical in formulating addiction due to the reward mechanisms in the brain. 
Top Qualities of Good Friends
What defines a good friend? Here are some of the top qualities of a good friend:
- Optimistic and encouraging
- Supportive during difficult times
- You can relax and be your true self around them
- Provides honesty (even if it’s not flattering)
- Happy for each other when good things happen
- Good listeners
- Willing to forgive
In addition to seeking people with these (and other) qualities, each person must work to provide these traits to their friends.
How to Stay Positive and Avoid Bad Influences
Unfortunately, not everyone has good friends they can turn to. In these instances, they must look within to stay strong and avoid the negativity from those around them. Here are a few ways to stay positive and avoid bad influences:
- Identify the negative influences. Look at the people around you and determine who are the positive influences and who are the most negative.
- Reduce exposure to negative influences. In some instances, it may be difficult to eliminate these people from your life. Trying to decrease the amount of time spent with them or interactions is key.
- Increase the number of positive influences. When negative people are removed from your life, replace that space with positive ones. Consider joining groups or organizations with like-minded people.
- Set healthy boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” By setting boundaries, people will learn to respect you and your space. Real friends will accept your feelings and respond accordingly.
- Self-reflect. If there is a recurring pattern of negative energy from people you encounter, it may not be them that’s the problem; it might be you. In other words, it might be time to have an honest conversation with yourself and determine why you behave the way you do.
Supplements For Brain Health
Negative friends can tremendously impact a person’s quality of life. They can increase a person’s stress levels and distract them from what they are trying to accomplish. The following all-natural supplements may help a person stay focused and avoid the negativity from toxic friends:
True Cellular Formulas® Focus and Memory Support contain herbs and nutrients that help keep the brain sharp. This product is specifically designed to provide these key benefits:
- Decrease oxidative stress in the brain
- Aids with learning and cognition
- Help improve mental clarity and concentration
- Increase concentration on complex tasks and projects
- Assists with mental processing
Upgraded Memory contains vital brain minerals that help to be more creative, stay on task, and replenish. Key benefits include the following:
- Faster memory recall
- Improved clarity and focus
- Increased energy
- It helps calm the mind
- Increased creativity
- Improved cognitive function
Upgraded Memory is all-natural and contains no sugars, gluten, soy, artificial colors, or flavors. In addition, this product contains many powerful brain-boosting ingredients, including manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, and boron.
True Cellular Formulas® Mood Support is designed to support a positive, balanced mood and a healthy nervous system. This product has three key functions:
- Stress support. It provides vitamins and minerals that assist with stress support, including magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.
- Nervous system support. It contains herbs like rhodiola and ashwagandha, which have been used for centuries to help to calm the nervous system and manage stress.
- Brain chemistry. Rich in L-Theanine and valerian root, neurotransmitters that help support brain health and help decrease the risk of anxiety and depression.
Having good friends is an essential piece to good health. Studies indicate the benefits of having good friends and the health problems a lack of friends or poor friends can cause. So try to cultivate good friendships and be a good friend today. Do you have friends you can count on and trust? Leave a comment below and share how they have helped you in life.
- Cheuk Yin Ho. Better Health With More Friends: The Role of Social Capital in Producing Health. Health Econ. 2016 Jan;25(1):91-100. doi: 10.1002/hec.3131. Epub 2014 Nov 27. [PMID: 25431183].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25431183/
- Jessica Martino, Jennifer Pegg, Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD. The Connection Prescription: Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2017 Nov-Dec; 11(6): 466–475. Published online 2015 Oct 7. doi: 10.1177/1559827615608788. [PMID: 30202372].https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125010/
- Wan Chen 1, Zhihuan Nong 2, Yaoxuan Li, (et al). Role of Dopamine Signaling in Drug Addiction. Curr Top Med Chem. 2017;17(21):2440-2455. doi: 10.2174/1568026617666170504100642. PMID: 28474551. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28474551/