LONDON, Aug 24 — Feeling a mid-life crisis coming on? Take another look at the state of your social life and consider striking up more friendships, as a new study has found that the key to mid-life well-being is having a wide circle of friends and seeing them regularly.
Published in the —Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health—, the study found a direct correlation between psychological well-being and the size of a person’s support network and social life.
Information was collected from 6,500 Britons all born in 1958, at different stages of their middle years: 42, 45 and 50.
Some of the interesting findings included a link between education level and kinship and gender divides.
Staying on in full-time education beyond the age of 16 may reduce the size of men’s friendship networks, for example, but it increased the size of a woman’s social network by up to 74 per cent if they left after the age of 20.
Naturally, having a partner was also associated with a larger network of family members — a particularly important factor for men whose psychological well-being was lower when they had no relatives.
By comparison, a lack of relatives beyond their own immediate household made little emotional impact on a woman’s mental health, whereas a lack of girlfriends played a big role in eroding their psychological well-being, the study found.
Social activity was defined as seeing a family member or friend regularly, at least once a month or more.
Overall, 1 in 7 participants said they had no contact with relatives outside their own family, and 1 in 10 said they had no friends.
Four out of 10 men and 1 in 3 women said they had more than six friends they saw regularly.
The British study isn’t the first to emphasise the importance of adult friendships.
After studying seniors living in community and residential care facilities, an Australian study found that a thriving social life can lengthen a person’s lifespan. — AFP-Relaxnews