Friday, 25 May 2018

You’ve got to have friends ... and ideally continued good weather!

At some point yesterday Phil commented that perhaps the fine weather we have had for the last week was probably this year’s British summer. And so, in that way, he put a hex on things and today it has rained. It’s not been very heavy stuff but enough to be annoying. We are hoping it might stop before this evening’s band contest gets going.

For today is Whit Friday, a day of Whit Walks and band contests. I felt rather sorry for the people waiting in the village centre first thing this morning. They were waiting for the Whit Walks to start and hoping that the drizzle would stop. Local brass band members walked around in their band uniform, also hoping for an improvement in the weather.

We have an extra reason to hope for an improvement in the weather as have a friend coming over to be wined and dined and taken into the village to see the bands. Typically, having invited him to come over, we now find that we might all have to huddle under our umbrellas this evening. Tomorrow’s forecast is back to fine and sunny, rather like yesterday. How do me manage to have a gloomy day sandwiched between two good ones?

Still, having a friend over is always good. According to this article friendship is one of the important factors in combatting unhappiness and loneliness. Especially eating with friends, and not even necessarily close friends. It seems that more people than you might think regularly eat alone and this is one of the major factors in unhappiness. People who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves, various studies found, and so are less likely to be depressed.

I had my doubts about one finding, all about rates for surviving more than 12 months after a heart attack. “The best two predictors, by a long way, are the number and quality of friends you have and giving up smoking,” say the experts. “You can eat as much as you like, you can slob about, you can drink as much alcohol as you like – the effect is very modest compared with these other two factors.” I remain unconvinced about the slobbing about and drinking as much alcohol as you like. But the friends thing is probably very true.

Unsurprisingly a consultant clinical psychologist said this: “Austerity has a huge influence on the loss of happiness and wellbeing.”

Now, there’s a surprise!

“Homelessness and unemployment in particular takes us out of contact with others,” she continued, “In addition to the obvious harms of homelessness, it does massively increase social isolation and anxiety.” I think I could have told them that.

Of course, your friends have to be more than virtual. Some people have so many “friends” on social media that it is hard to imagine how they keep up with them all. Here’s a link to an article which equates the rise in teenage depression, mental illness and even suicide with the advent of the smart phone. Of course, it’s not just the social isolation of spending more time on your phone than actually interacting face to face. It’s also the pressure to conform to the standards that they are bombarded with via the phone.

Parents, they say, need to limit the time youngsters, some of them still in primary school, spend on their smart phones.

It’s easy to say that but, like with so much in modern life, it’s going to be a difficult task putting that into practice. The phone is out of the box and we aren’t going to be able to out it back quickly.

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