We look at the importance of friendship in a crisis and why your friends are the crisis managers that money cannot buy.

Friendship is an increasingly complex word in an increasingly connected, but distanced, world. In the age of social media, people could not have greater means of staying connected to their friends or rediscovering old relationships that were broken through distance and time. So, with the endless opportunity for connection, it can be difficult to source a genuine friendship and it is difficult to maintain fellowship by conversing through a screen. Accordingly, obtaining meaningful friendships can be difficult, but their importance to Crisis Management cannot be overstated; friends are the pillars from which we draw our strength, and so the first step of successfully mitigating a crisis is making sure you are surrounded by – and can rely on – those you trust the most.

You don’t have to take our word for it though: research has proven the overwhelmingly positive impact that having a strong set of friends has on someone’s life. Scientists looking into the relationship between social contact and quality of life studied how social interaction affects animals. They concluded that those with a stronger degree of social interaction not only lived to a greater age and produced a greater number of children when compared to their isolated counterparts, but their offspring were also stronger and had a comparatively greater survival rate in the wild. This shows the natural effect of friendship on strength and ability. Moreover, friendship has been proven to have a positive effect on sleep and cardiovascular functioning. This means that that friendship is extremely beneficial to one’s physical health, which in turn can help induce positivity into the entirety of one’s life, including better mental health. This not only makes someone better equipped to deal with a crisis scenario, but positive wellbeing may even prevent one completely.

However, science isn’t the only reason why a strong friendship is essential for avoiding crisis – there is also utility. Having people to count on is, perhaps, the sole most important crisis deterrent there is, for a variety of different reasons. Firstly, a strength in numbers aspect applies, meaning that humans are far safer mentally and physically when being supported by those they know. The natural element of this can be seen in animals that herd together for protection from predators. Therefore, being surrounded by those you can trust provides a shield that allows you to concentrate on surviving and performing to your best in every other aspect of your life. Secondly, friendship, and keeping them close, can be useful for a crisis as they can be a great source of resources. Utilising the capabilities of your friends to help you through a crisis alleviates stress, as you know they have your interests at heart and are working out of love, rather than being motivated by greed. Subsequently, the uncertainty and ‘fear of the unknown’ aspects that are often associated with a crisis scenario are relieved as a reliable response plan can be established.

The main, and most basic, reason why friendship is key to handling a crisis, however, is the unrivalled and unconditional strength they provide. Friends are not only useful for their utility or scientific effect on your wellbeing, but they are also a fantastic source of happiness and positive content. Handling a crisis alone can be scary and daunting, but friendship distracts you towards the happier aspects of life and away from your difficult time. Whether it be financial support, support for your family members, or even a well-needed hug, doing things with other people is a great source of enjoyment and will undoubtably make it easier to take on a seemingly impossible challenge. Accordingly, the fraternity of friendship encourages you to be better. When people are rooting for you, the sense of responsibility to reward their friendship with success is almost tangible, and so you’re driven to live up to the responsibility of their friendship. This encourages positive living, improves your mental health as you strive to be a better self, and drives away bad habits which were beneficial to no one. Friendship, therefore, curates a version of ourselves that is met with the most love.

But it is not the quantity of friends which are the defining factor, it is the strength of those friendships. The amount of people forming that protective ring of trust and love around you does not mean anything if the strength of the bond is weak, and when it is tested it may hinder the process of crisis management if assumed support is broken under pressure. This means that your trust and belief should not be scattered aimlessly to cover all the bases but concentrated into those people who are there for you, and truly want to see you thrive. These friendships are the ones that last, and they’re the ones who are there for you when an unexpected crisis occurs.