Apart from hermits living in the woods, most people feel like they really need to have friends. Humans are very social creatures and being around other people is essential for health and happiness for most of us. Like so many other things in life, however, where friends are concerned, we have to learn to take the good with the bad. That’s expected, but might you be overlooking just how the “bad” might be affecting your health? This may sound ridiculous, but some friendships can have a negative impact on your health. Friends mean a great deal to people and you might be surprised to learn just how profoundly they can affect your life. These seven signs could mean some friendships are putting a strain on your health and well-being.
1. They Burden You With Their Problems
We all know people who seem to thrive on drama. Hardly a day goes by that they don’t become involved in some high-drama incident that they just have to share with you, in excruciating detail and with a tantrum or crying spell thrown in for good measure. Hearing about someone’s problems constantly can get old pretty fast and can also have an effect on your health. It may raise levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which can cause sleep and immune system problems, making you more susceptible to illness.
2. Non-stop Gossip
Some people just love to spend their time poking their noses into other people’s business and then spending hours telling others what they have discovered. Everyone gossips a bit here and there and that’s a natural thing for people to do, but we’re talking about people whose mission in life seems to be talking about the lives of others. This can take time away from other things you could be doing that make you happier, healthier and more productive. Hearing too much gossip about someone else could also affect your opinion of others and potentially damage friendships, which can also be a downer for your health.
3. They’re Keeping You Up At Night
With smartphones serving as 24-hour companions for millions of people these days, it’s easier than ever to reach your friends at any time during the day or night. Some people aren’t at all shy about texting a friend in the middle of the night to share news of their latest break-up or what they thought of the movie they just saw. Sleep is vitally important and there probably isn’t enough space here to list all the ways that sleep deprivation can harm your health. Since turning off the phone seems to be a virtual impossibility for so many people, it might be best to let your friends know that they should text you in the middle of the night only when it’s a true emergency. Pretty much everything else can wait until morning.
4. They Are Childish
Do you always feel like it’s your responsibility to behave like the adult when you are with certain friends? Having to deal with those kinds of problems can elevate stress levels significantly. Parents of small children know this from experience and although there is little you can do to make a child mature faster, there may be something you can do to help your friends grow up a bit. Avoid indulging in their immature behavior since that can only make things worse and always try to set a good example of adult behavior.
5. Poor Eating Habits
We’ve probably all heard more than we have ever wanted to hear about healthy eating these days and that’s because we now know how important that is for your health. Similarly to being sleep deprived, eating lots of junk food has more negative effects than we have time to discuss here. Learn to push back a bit when your junk food junky friends want to swing into the fast food joint again for a sugar and a fat-laden meal that can diminish your health and pack on unwanted pounds.
6. You Start Sharing Their Vices
Bad behavior comes in a variety of flavors. Some people drink too much while others might be more inclined to engage in dangerous behavior like driving too fast or even committing crimes. Whether someone is pressuring you to have another drink or go shoplifting with them, just dealing with the stress from these circumstances can significantly impact your health. Alcoholism, car accidents and jail time won’t do a lot to improve your health either.
7. They’re Always Competing With You
A little friendly competition now and then can be fun and is probably harmless, but there may be some people in your circle of friends who always have to one-up everyone else. Maybe they always have to be the one that’s lifting the most weight at the gym or buying an expensive new outfit when someone else upgrades their wardrobe a bit. No matter what these people do to ensure they always look better than others, it probably ends up being annoying to their friends, which can cause anxiety that certainly doesn’t do anything positive for your health.