Relationships and the impact on our health
Relationships are one of the most valuable and important things in our lives, when they are healthy of course. But sometimes we can take them for granted and not realize how vital those connections are for our physical and mental health. On the heels of Valentine’s Day when people across the world spent the day celebrating relationships, we need to realize that it’s not a one-day marker and that relationships deserve daily acknowledgement and priority.
We know that social isolation and unhealthy relationships are associated with poor physical health and can even trigger mental illness. Yet supportive, healthy relationships can boost and benefit overall health. In fact, there is research that shows people with healthy relationships have a 50 percent greater likelihood of survival.
The benefits of relationships impact so many aspects of our lives. They provide us with purpose and meaning and can give us an overall sense of wellbeing. Fostering and cultivating healthy relationships have shown to help relieve stress and manage emotions. Think about those people in our lives who serve as our sounding board and the conversations we have with them that help to diffuse a situation and put things into perspective. Keep in mind, relationships on social media are not the same and do not replace face-to-face time. In fact, there are studies and evidence that show a strong correlation between excessive social media use to triggering depressive symptoms as well as feelings of envy or inadequacy.
Remember that to reap the benefits of relationships, it’s not about the number of friends you have or whether you’re in a committed romantic relationship, but it’s the quality of healthy relationships that really matter. A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have some stress as well as difficult patches, but this should not be the norm. Relationships that are toxic or in constant conflict are more harmful than being lone.
Take the time to assess your current relationships and only pursue those that are nurturing, encourage healthy habits and provide emotional support. Having a mental health provider or counselor may help in sorting out relationship challenges. Through our own efforts at maintaining emotional health, we can enjoy happy, healthy relationships and be a source of joy for those around us.
Susan Kozak has been a licensed social worker for the past 31 years and currently serves as the executive director of Community Care Services, a position she has held since 2011.