Talking to a Friend is Sometimes the Therapy You Need
Our most important source of renewal can come from a very familiar source: our friends. When we’re feeling the strains of a hectic day, a quick phone call to our best friends is the perfect pick-me-up to reset our resolve, restart our determination, and remind us that we’re not alone.
Hall and co-authors Amanda Holmstrom, Natalie Pennington, Evan Perrault, and Daniel Totzkay published “Quality Conversation Can Improve Daily Well-Being” in the journal Communication Research. The study was inspired by and adds to Hall’s Communicate, Bond, Belong (CBB) theory of relationships. Hall is the Relationships and Technology Lab director at KU.
“This paper was an attempt to define quality communication in the context of relationships,” Hall said. “The types of communication we chose to study were ones shown in past research to make people feel more bonded through conversation.”
There were seven:
- Catching up
- Meaningful talk
- Joking around
- Showing care
- Valuing others and their opinions
- Offering sincere compliments
Over 900 participants in the study from five college campuses were directed to start engaging in one of the seven interactions on a single day, before, during, and after global epidemic lockdowns, and then reported back that night about their feelings of stress, connection, nervousness, well-being, solitude, and the quality of their day.
It didn’t even matter which of these great talks someone had, according to Hall. The act of reaching out to a friend using one of these methods was what was most important.
“One of the take-home messages of this study is that there are many paths toward the same goal,” Hall said.
According to him, the study was also intended to investigate the impact of both the quality and quantity of daily conversations.
“There’s a lot of good research that says the number of interactions you have as well as the quality of those interactions are both associated with being a less lonely, happier, and more connected person,” said Hall. This study found that once is enough, but more is better. Participants who chose to have more quality conversations had better days.
“This means that the more you listened to your friends, the more you showed care, and the more you took time to value others’ opinions, the better you felt at the end of the day,” he said.
“The experimental design means that it’s not just people who are already having fulfilling lives who have higher-quality conversations,” Hall said. “This study suggests that anyone who makes time for high-quality conversation can improve their well-being. We can change how we feel on any given day through communication. Just once is all it takes.”
The study also brought in Hall’s past research on different ways to connect in the era of social and mobile media. The study found high-quality face-to-face communication was more closely associated with well-being than electronic or social media contact.
“If at least one of their quality conversations was face-to-face, that mattered,” Hall said.
The paper also explains why quality communication makes people feel better. According to the CBB theory, people use conversations with friends to help them meet their need to belong.
“Across these three studies, quality conversation mattered most for connection and stress,” Hall said. “This supports the idea that we use communication to get our needs met, and, in doing so, it helps us manage our stress.”
What is exciting about this research, Hall said, is that it shows there are a host of good things that come along with just one good conversation with a friend. This drives home the point that making time for quality conversation makes our days better.
A Happy Heart is a Healthy Heart
Even when we are surrounded by people, it is easy to feel lonely if we are too involved and too busy to interact with them. Loneliness can break your heart!
John Cacioppo, a social psychologist from the University of Chicago, discovered that loneliness has serious negative effects on our health. Loneliness, in addition to harming the nervous and immune systems, hurts the cardiovascular system by increasing blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, both of which damage the structure of the heart.
Taking the time to call your best friend regularly provides a small but powerful connection to another that will help you avoid loneliness and its heartbreaking consequences.
It’s beautiful when we see potential in our friends, and they see promise in us. A regular phone call to your best friend can be the habitual push you both need to become the people you know you’re meant to be and at the same time keep your mental peace intact and your life stress-free.
- Quality Conversation Can Increase Daily Well-Being – (https:journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00936502221139363)
#Talking #Friend #Therapy