“Mateship” is a concept that’s as fundamentally Australian as drinking cold beer or sniggering at England’s top order. Long associated with the WWI Diggers, it’s an idea that suggests men offering resolute support for one another during tough times. Plus the distribution of really dumb nicknames.
Yet this hallowed concept is struggling to survive modern life. A survey from Beyond Blue found that 45 per cent of men aren’t satisfied with their number of friends. The research also discovered that male social networks fall sharply after age 30. As that happens, so do their levels of support.
Admittedly, this isn’t that surprising. Your thirties are an age when a lot of men are shinning up the career ladder, settling down and firing out offspring. In other words, you’re pretty bloody busy. Staggering between deadlines and domestic duties, you can’t always spare the time to catch up with mates for a surf or a schooner.
But here’s why it matters. Strong social connections are the key to a long and healthy life. An extensive study from Brigham Young University found that loneliness is as harmful to your health as alcoholism, not exercising or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing showed that while family relationships have minimal effect on your longevity, your friendships can boost lifespan by up to 22 per cent.
That’s why maintaining your social life is as important as managing your diet or your gym schedule. Been neglecting your friends? Well, it’s high time you make amends…
And so we’d like to make a suggestion. During the next month, make the time to catch up with a mate you haven’t seen for a while. Head off on a road-trip or go fishing. Grab a burger together or go and catch the game. You might talk crap and blow off steam. You might pontificate, laugh or reminisce. Just remember: you’re not only doing yourself a favour here, you’re also throwing your mate a potential lifeline to unburden their own troubles. Or take the mickey out of your footy team at the very least.
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