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Dial Down Stress & Relieve Anxiety – The Power Of Spending Time With Friends

Life at times can feel like a constant rumble of stress, even good moments can seem stressful amongst all the busyness. There’s always something going on or something to do, and if there isn’t, something unexpected usually skips the queue to disrupt...

No matter whether your priority is work, chores, family or fitness, most of us have a never-ending mental or physical to-do list that extends so far that we no longer feel free to say a spontaneous yes to a coffee invitation with friends without first scanning our multiple email accounts and calendars. But could it be the answer? Could planning time with friends help to ease this stress and relieve anxiety. Science seems to think so.

In fact, it’s believed that time with friends – companionship – can boost happiness, ease stress and give us a sense of belonging. Humans are naturally social creatures but our modern lifestyle has somehow eliminated that time required to maintain an effective social support system.

It’s important to note that everyone’s social network looks different. The friend you think of may be an old school friend or a new friend, or perhaps it’s your partner.

This social support system, whatever it looks like for you, produces strong feelings of inclusion and connection through positive emotional experiences which stimulate the release of oxytocin and serotonin – the feel-good hormones. Spending time with people who make us feel relaxed and at ease can help us to disconnect from our stress and tension, whilst nurturing friendships with those we care for strengthens bonds and empowers us.

We have all heard the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved,’ and it can be true that sharing challenges and seeking peer support can lend perspective, helping us to better relate with one another and feel less alone in our struggles. Friends can give emotional support, practical advice and encourage us when we need it. But it’s important too that we recognise that a healthy friendship works both ways, and whilst it’s important to have our needs met, we need to give time and energy to our friend’s needs – showing up when it’s important to bolster confidence, support and offer advice, or simply just to listen.

Friendships don’t just help our mental health, bring us happiness and confidence; they can have a profound affect on our immune system. Lydia Denworth is a science journalist, in her book ‘Friendship,’ she explores the relationship between social interaction or isolation and the immune system, explaining that in times of loneliness our white blood cells change their behaviour causing our body’s inflammation markers to increase. Whereas, socially connected people tend to be at a lower risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and live longer, healthier lives.

The power of making memories, sharing experiences and simply having fun together should not be underestimated.

Laughter and joy reinforce bonds and gives us a sense of security, but it also reminds us not to take life too seriously, so planning a walk, a coffee or a break away together could be just what we need to de-stress but also cultivate a life-affirming friendship.

Our New Forest hotel is the perfect setting to come together with friends, to disconnect with the stressors in your life and rekindle some fun, nurture friendships and laugh together on a hotel break with dinner. If you have a couple of hours free, come together for a delicious lunch at our French bistro Le Blaireau or catch up over a selection of Thai dishes at the Zen Garden. An afternoon to while away? Fancy an Afternoon Tea for two. Share scones, speciality cakes, sandwiches and a pot of tea and put the world to rights.

But perhaps it’s a spa day that you have in mind. SenSpa is a deeply relaxing backdrop for your long-awaited catch up and invaluable time together. Pause and unwind, simply surrender to a day dedicated to renewal and reconnection.

Make it a spa break and stay at our Hampshire hotel for the weekend. Leave life’s stresses behind and pick up where you left off; put the phones away, silence the notifications and enjoy a walk through our ancient woodland before checking in and heading to the spa to reset mind and body. Share a bottle of prosecco before dining in one of our three hotel restaurants and then drift off for your best night’s sleep, waking to a delightful continental breakfast. All this awaits on a New Forest weekend away at Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa.

The thing is, if stress and anxiety are always going to be there, a brief moment away won’t change a thing. In fact, rekindling and nurturing those important friendships may be just what you need to bolster you, helping you to handle life’s rollercoaster moments with confidence and the support you forgot you had.