Research undertaken at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre has found that the presence of a best friend after a negative experience can significantly decrease the physical effects of stress.
The study that examined 100 ten to twelve year olds found that the company of a best friend rather than strangers, siblings or parents reduces the level of cortisol production during a stress
Cortisol is the so called stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands within the body. Cortisol helps to control glucose metabolism, insulin secretion both of which regulate blood sugar levels, regulation of blood pressure and immune function. During a stress response the level of cortisol within the body is increased, however the study found that being with a best friend can reduce that amount.
Although the research was examining the stress relieving effects of a best friend on children, the researchers reportedly believe the finding are equally applicable to adult stress and friendships.
This isn’t the first time that the role of interpersonal contact has been examined in relation to stress management, since the late 1970’s psychologists have scientifically proven that the presence of a social support network acts as a buffer to the physical and emotional impacts of stress. However, this latest study notes that it is specifically the best friend that restricts the levels of cortisol in the body to the greatest extent.