Friends in Need: The Buffer Theory

There are many effective coping techniques for stress, but one that surfaces time and time again is the one called social support networks (known more commonly to you and me as “friends.”) In this day and age of rapid change and upheaval, its a good coping technique to fall back on. Research shows that people who have solid friendships tend to weather the storms of stress better than those who have a poor social network, or feel isolated. It would stand to reason, being that by and large, people are often called, the social animal. Perhaps John Donne said it best, “No man is an island.” In sociology circles, having a strong circle of friends is known as “The buffer theory.” The logic is that friends tend to buffer you from the harshest effects of stress and soften the blow if/when you get knocked over. It should be noted that friends are not people who always take your side in conflicts, nor are they “yes’ men to all of your ideas. Friends act as sounding boards, conversation partners, exercise comrades and people who simply show up because you need a shoulder (real or metaphorical) to cry on. The classic study on support groups was conducted with women with breast cancer decades ago and holds as true to day as it did when the data was collected and anylized. Those who were involved with a strong social support network far outlived their counterparts without the buffer of friends and family. The authors of the best selling book, Megatrends suggested that as we become more reliant on technology the importance of friends will only grow. As a rule people who spend more time with a keyboard and computer screen tend to have less “real time” with other humans—at a cost. While social support networking on the Internet is a great way to connect virtually, nothing can replace face-to -face human contact.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Consider calling up a friend this week and invite them to go for an afternoon walk or a cup of tea, OR, invite some friends over for a weekend potluck dinner party. Since friends tend to come in and out of our lives these days (e.g., relocation, death, new jobs, etc.) consider striking up a new friendship with someone at work or even your neighborhood and invite them to join you for lunch or tea. As the saying goes, “You can never have enough true friends.”

• Website Link Worth Noting:
Cancer has become all too common these days and despite the gains made in Western medicine, this disease still sends chills up the spine of anyone who hears this prognosis. A friend of mine, who was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago started a website business called When the cancer returned, she sold the business to a beautiful soul named Tricia who has taken over the reins masterfully. If you know of someone who has come down with cancer and are looking for away to offer support consider visiting this website for ideas.

Photo of the Day:
Twice a year I host a potluck and house concert at my place. As someone who tends to be on the road a lot, it’s a great way for me to reconnect with good friends and family and offer some first class entertainment (e.g., Celtic music, jazz, folk music), not to mention some great food, my friends can cook really well. This photo is of my friends, Jessie Burns/fiddle (of the group Gaelic Thunder) Adam Agee/fiddle and Jon Souza/guitar and banjo brought the house down last year. Everyone is awaiting their return to the next potluck party.

• Quote for the Day:

“A true friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
— Anonymous

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his

Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

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