Having a best friend helps beat stress

When times get tough we all need our best friends, but new research suggests that spending time with your closest pal could also help reduce stress levels

Feeling under pressure? Go and see your best friend! New reseach claims that being in the presence of your closest girlfriend can reduce stress levels.

The study was carried out with children but experts believe the findings are likely to apply to adults too.

Researchers studied 100 children aged between 10 and 12 and found that the presence of a best friend, more so than that of parents, siblings or strangers, buffers the physical effects of a negative experience.

‘One of the interesting things about these findings is that it’s not just any friend – it’s the best friend,’ says lead author Ryan Adams from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.

The presence of a best friend caused cortisol production to decrease – and when friends weren’t there, cortisol levels shot up.

‘A child’s close friends can be problematic and lead them astray, but they can also be incredibly positive and supportive,’ says Dr Karen Majors, education psychologist with Barking and Dagenham Community Educational Psychology Service.

‘Friendships serve really important purposes socially, emotionally and cognitively.’

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