The Friendship Recession

In this podcast (episode #564) and blog, I talk about the importance of friendships, and how they can impact our mental health.

Friendships are a beautiful part of life that contribute so much value to our lives in so many wonderful ways. However, in recent years, researchers have noticed a decline in people’s social circles and number of friends. They have attributed this decline to many reasons, including the recent COVID pandemic, which left us more isolated and disconnected, and the higher cost of living, which means that more and more of use spend less time hanging out with loved ones and more time working to survive. 

In a recent article in Women’s Health on this “friendship recession”, journalists note that “the average 30-year-old has shed 4.5 friends since the start of the pandemic.” Although it is normal for friends to come and go as we grow older, move homes, change jobs and so on, these statistics are notable. As the article points out, “our social stock is crashing – and those bonds are vital for health.” According to the Mental State of the World 2022 Report, our ability to maintain meaningful friendships and connections had reduced dramatically, and not just for 30-year-olds. One report points out that 18-24 year olds are more likely to have no close friends than those aged 75! 

Several other factors have also contributed to our current “friendship recession”, as noted in the article above: 

  • Moving to a new location, whether for work, education, or personal reasons, can disrupt existing friendships and make it challenging to maintain connections.
  • Individuals dealing with mental health issues may find it harder to maintain and nurture friendships, contributing to a sense of isolation.
  • Changes in communication patterns, including a reliance on digital communication over face-to-face interaction, can also influence the quality of friendships.
  • Our society’s disproportionate focus on individual success at the expense of community. 

This truly is a health crisis. Friendships benefit our lives in many ways, while also contributing to our mental and physical wellbeing. As I have said many times on this podcast, community is a vital part of our health!

There are many benefits to having friends, including: 

  • Encouraging healthy behaviors. For example, friends may motivate each other to exercise, eat well, and engage in other wellness activities, leading to better brain and physical health.
  • Better brain health as we age. Research shows that friendships can contribute to a lower risk of cognitive decline and conditions like dementia.
  • Opportunities to develop and practice social skills, which can be beneficial in various aspects of life. These skills include empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution.
  • A reduced risk of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Friends can offer emotional support, companionship, and a sense of belonging that contributes to mental well-being. University of Oxford researcher Anna Manchin notes how friendships can give us “a wonderful flood of neurochemistry, including dopamine and beta-endorphins.” True friends make us feel what Manchin describes as “euphoric, warm, content and deeply bonded.” 

Here are some ways you can focus on the friendships in your life: 

  • Be intentional: make a conscious effort to prioritize and invest time in your friendships. Set aside time for social activities and maintaining connections.
  • Focus on the quality of your friendships rather than the quantity. Deep, meaningful connections can be more fulfilling than many superficial relationships.
  • Remember that the ebb and flow of friendships is a natural part of life, and it's normal for the number and closeness of friendships to change over time. It's also possible to strengthen existing friendships and cultivate new ones with effort and intention.

Not sure where to begin making new friends? 

  • Take up a new hobby to meet people with similar interests to you. 
  • Do an Airbnb experience or tours via platforms like Viator, Tripadvisor in your area. 
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit or organization.
  • Go to work out classes.
  • Join a social club, or, if you are spiritual, a local church, mosque, or synagogue.
  • Join a meetup app to see local events in your area and meet new people.
  • Try to do less things online. For example, instead of shopping online, go out with a friend or plan to work out with a loved one instead doing exercise alone at home.

For more on friendship and mental health, listen to my podcast (episode #564). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).   

This podcast was sponsored by:

BiOptimizer’s Magnesium Breakthrough. The longer it takes me to fall asleep at night, the more stressed out I get about being exhausted the next day. It is so frustrating, especially when I am traveling for work and have a full day planned ahead! But ever since I started adding Magnesium Breakthrough to my nightly mind management routine, I’ve been able to quiet my mind and sleep better. It really has made the world of difference! Unlike other magnesium supplements that might be giving you 1-2 forms of magnesium, Magnesium Breakthrough contains all 7 forms of magnesium designed to help calm your mind and help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed. And not only does Magnesium Breakthrough help you sleep better, it also helps calm your mind and allows you to feel grounded and relaxed during the day and especially before bed. So, don’t miss out on the most relaxing sleep ever with Magnesium Breakthrough! For an exclusive offer for my listeners go to and use promo code DRLEAF10 during checkout to save 10 percent. 

AquaTru. Staying hydrated is so important for our brain and body health, but remembering to drink enough water during the day can be a challenge! Indeed, I’m always looking for ways to make drinking more water easier, so I don’t even have to think about it. I also want to make sure the water I am drinking is truly good for my brain and body. According to extensive research by the Environmental Working Group, 3 out of 4 homes in America have harmful contaminants in its tap water! That’s why you’ve got to check out AquaTru. AquaTru purifiers use a 4-stage reverse osmosis purification process, and their countertop purifiers work with NO installation or plumbing. It removes 15x more contaminants than ordinary pitcher filters and are specifically designed to combat chemicals like PFAS in your water supply. PFAS are found in almost 45% of US tap water and I’m grateful that AquaTru is certified to remove these contaminants. And they have water purifiers to fit every type of home, from installation-free countertop purifiers to higher capacity under sink options. They even have a wifi-connected purifier and mineral boost options! Best of all, the water tastes fantastic and you don’t have to worry about PFAS or other harmful contaminants. It’s even portable, making it perfect for renters or college dorms. In addition to drinking water, you can use it for your coffee, tea, and all your cooking needs from boiling pasta or veggies to making stocks and soups. AquaTru comes with a 30-day Money-Back Guarantee and even makes a great gift! Today my listeners can receive 20% OFF any AquaTru purifier! Just go to  and enter code DRLEAF at checkout.    

Podcast Highlights

3:26 The friendship recession 

10:20 Why friends are so important for our wellbeing 

20:52 How to be more intentional about your friendships 

24:00 How to make more friends

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional. 

Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published