Making a network of friends Making a network of friends

Besides having an intimate partner, there are several forms of company that can keep you happy. Developing these relationships, without reaching extremes, is key to leading a fulfilling life.

 Advisors: Lucio González Ortega – Psychiatrist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
María Victoria Orrego – Clinical psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

At each stage of life, humans build emotional bonds that form networks of people to discover, deal and enjoy daily life with. While it is important to foster all types of relationships, some people focus all their attention on their partners, develop greater attachment to them and restrict the notion of having others in their lives when they are around, so that when their partner is gone, they experience loneliness.

The first step to preventing this feeling is to understand that you can be happier and strengthen your emotional well-being by opening the doors to other types of companions that can complement several aspects of life: friends, pets, co-workers and even yourself.

“When a person builds a broad social network full of different people, it is because they have made the decision to share their love with several individuals. While some may receive more than others, the key is consciously having several supports to go to for any situation, whether positive or negative. Mentally, this provides people with peace of mind and security,” explains Lucio González Ortega, clinical psychologist.

It is about keeping the balance of love in equilibrium: you don’t have to reduce the world to just one person, or be excessive and include thousands of people in your life, because in the end, affection is a finite energy, and when you give all of yourself away, this leads to emotional exhaustion including voids and the thought of receiving less than what you give.

Healthy ties

According to psychologist and specialist in neuropsychology María Victoria Orrego, “Bonds are what keep motivation and balance afloat with other aspects of life,” which is why those who foster healthy relationships are more emotionally stable, they tend to a resolve challenges assertively and are open to change.

The clearest example of the benefits that relationships with friends can provide is, “…the neurotransmitters that are activated with friends that foster positivity and help prevent anxiety and depression; these neurotransmitters also stimulate your memory and help people to live longer,” Orrego states. This does not mean that they are the only crutch to be relied on as social beings. There are other equally beneficial options, other than friends, that are worth including as part of your lifestyle.

Pets are extraordinary companions, not only because they happily reciprocate the love that they are given, but because of the changes they make in their owners – getting them out of their routines with activities such as going to the park, feeding them and taking care of their health. Each of these activities goes from being an obligation to being an act of mutual support where caring for them becomes an exchange for bursts of immediate happiness, as when this happens, dopamine and serotonin are activated in the brain, which are responsible for sparking feelings of happiness. Compared to other types of interactions, contact with animals is freer and when it comes to expressing emotion, they unleash them without any inhibitions.

Other forms of company

For psychiatrist Ortega González, it is important to symbolize attachment and deposit your love in those hobbies and passions that allow the body to express itself freely. “From when you are little, it is important to learn to love many things, whether it is a sport, an instrument or any other activity that – as you grow – becomes another healthy bond that the person can rely on to take a load off and lift up their positive emotions,” she states.

In contrast, there is another type of company that is often not accounted for and that is the type of company that is closest to you and is the most unconditional: yourself. “Understanding that I am my own partner” is a process that requires giving yourself the opportunity to be alone, to delve into your personal motivations and discover your true self. These are the times when your self-esteem rises, everything is more enjoyable, and when you establish a solid foundation for dealing with a society of stereotypes. As Orrego puts it, “The idea is to begin to consider other forms of company as alternatives and not as something you need. This is the base to having emotional balance: being there for yourself”.

Bonds are what keep motivation and balance afloat with other aspects of life.

A network for health

People who have stable and healthy supports in their lives:

  1.  Produce less cortisol and Therefore, better regulate their hormonal response to stress.
  2. Easily activate the neurotransmitters that make them happy through the release of norepinephrine, which is associated with pleasure, fulfillment and peace of mind.
  3. Produce more dopamine, which increases a person’s motivation, creativity and their feeling of well-being.
  4. Have less health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

Related: That invaluable network of friends