Even if they drive you crazy sometimes, you're probably pretty grateful for your friends. Turns out you have good reason to be: There are actual health benefits to keeping those buddies around (despite the toll of all those boozy brunches). For instance, there's a long history of research suggesting that social isolation or loneliness could be a risk factor for conditions such as cancer. A new study indicates that having people in your life could mediate stress-related heart rate variability. So, in offering a shoulder for your tears, your friends could be protecting your heart in more ways than you realize. According to this new infographic from Happify, there's plenty of other research suggesting that having buddies can help with mental health issues. They can boost our self-esteem, for example: Being with friends makes us feel more capable of taking on daunting challenges — and makes those challenges seem less difficult. We also produce less of the stress-related hormone cortisol when we've got our BFFs around — and in those moments when stress does take hold, we can bounce back faster when reminded of our pals.
To learn more about the health-boosting powers of friendship, check out the full infographic below. And, now that the Netflix-BBC-disappearance crisis has been averted, you can actually plan to spend the weekend out and about with your pals.