Healthy Relationships and Your Well-Being
Let's look into the components of healthy relationships, the benefits of having them, the impact of isolation on human health, and how you can take steps to create and keep healthy relationships with others.
Several factors play into the ways the world has disconnected from human interaction as we knew it before. Many of us are working from home, attending classes from home, and spending a good deal of time online. None of these societal changes are inherently bad, but the sense of normalcy in this generation has added to the difficulty plenty of people feel when trying to find and maintain healthy relationships.
What is a “Healthy” Relationship?
Healthy relationships are those that make the people involved feel good about being in them. While even great relationships have their disagreements here and there, a healthy relationship exists with mostly positive interactions. Whether the relationship is familial, romantic, professional, or one between close friends, there are a few characteristics that should always apply.
People in healthy relationships trust each other and feel that they’re free to be open and honest when they interact. A healthy relationship will have all parties on equal ground, and to make this true, mutual respect and communication are a must.
Finally, healthy relationships are enjoyable. People who are part of a healthy relationship feel supported, valued, and happy when they spend time with the people they care about. However, people in healthy relationships will also have reasonable boundaries and be able to enjoy time apart from one another.
The Benefits of Healthy Relationships
Humans are social creatures overall, so when we get into relationships that satisfy us mentally and emotionally, it can do a great deal of good for our well-being.
Being in a healthy relationship with others can provide you with the following benefits:
When you involve yourself with people who love, respect, and support you and you’re able to give the same back to them, it’s only natural to feel good about it. Healthy interactions between friends, family members, colleagues, or romantic partners increase the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are two of the chemicals responsible for the feeling of happiness.
A Sense of Security
Having people you feel safe talking to, those who listen to and validate your thoughts and feelings, can make you feel more secure as you move through life. It’s always nice to have someone in your corner to say, “I get where you’re coming from,” or “I feel the same way.” Knowing that other people understand the way you think and feel makes it easier to feel sure of yourself and who you are as a person.
Meaning in Life
Being kind and supportive can be its own reward sometimes. It feels good to bond with others, and when you have worked to develop a relationship that’s mutually supportive, it can create a greater sense of meaning in your life. Deep, meaningful connections, helping others, and receiving their support in return are part of what life is all about.
Healthy relationships can improve your sense of well-being both mentally and physically. People who have meaningful relationships with others tend to experience greater empathy, have higher self-esteem, deal with less anxiety and depression, and even possess enhanced immune function and healthy energy levels.
Isolation and Human Health
While having positive relationships with others can greatly improve various aspects of life, the absence of healthy relationships can be profoundly negative. Loneliness and social isolation can vary in the ways they impact certain individuals, but evidence points to these negative feelings weighing heavily on a person’s well-being. This is especially true for LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, and people over 50.
For example, prolonged isolation and loneliness can increase a person’s chances of early death. Isolation can also greatly increase a person’s risk of developing dementia (by 50%), heart disease (by 29%), and stroke (by 32%). Loneliness in individuals who already suffer from heart failure can increase the risk of death by nearly 4 times, as well as adding a 68% increased risk of being hospitalized and a 57% increased risk of needing emergency care.
It should come as no surprise, too, that loneliness and isolation can contribute to higher instances of depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts.
Establishing Healthy Relationships
Building and maintaining healthy relationships with others is easier said than done. After all, if it was such an easy thing, everyone would be doing it. However, pursuing healthy relationships and putting the time into keeping them strong is an important part of maintaining your own well-being.
If you’re just starting out and you don’t have many (or any) healthy relationships to speak of, you’ll want to start by meeting people who share some of your interests. Think about what you like doing, and try to find groups or individuals who like the same things. Your hobbies don’t have to align precisely, but having some common ground is a good start.
To meet new people, try the following tips:
Visit Your Local Library
Libraries, on top of attracting people who love to read, often host social events, so while you’re there, ask about anything you might want to participate in.
Join a Gym
If you’re athletic, join a gym or sports club. It’s a good way to meet others who share your interests, and the gym already provides a great meeting place.
Look for Social Groups on Meetup
Meetup might have several offerings in your area. Browse through the different events and social groups to find something that might be fun for you.
Frequent Your Local Cafe and/or Shops
Local establishments can make it easy to meet and befriend people who live close to you. When you’re out and about, make small talk with people who seem interested in a quick chat.
Browse Facebook, Newspapers, or Websites for Clubs to Join
Plenty of people forget that clubs exist outside of schools, so if you’re an adult looking for a fun group to join, look around for hobbies, topics, or other activities that pique your interest.
Stay Informed About Local Events
Visit your town’s website, follow social media accounts, or read the local newspaper to stay up to date with events that will happen in your area. Attend the ones you like and skip the ones that don’t interest you.
Volunteer Some of Your Time
On top of being a great way to meet other charitable people, volunteering some of your time to help a worthy cause can make you feel good about what you’re doing. Volunteering gets you out of the house and your efforts can really help the community you care about.
Maintaining Healthy Relationships
If you already have friends, family members, or others with whom you want to stay close to, maintaining the relationship is a must. To do so, you’ll want to find a nurturing balance that doesn’t neglect nor suffocate the people you care about. For different groups, this balance might look vary somewhat.
To keep your relationship as healthy as possible, do your best to ensure that you’re respecting privacy and being trustworthy. Show care and empathy, but maintain a sense of honesty and the ability to be candid with the people around you. Give and receive equally so that the relationship does not become one-sided, and if you notice that you’re the one putting all the effort into staying in contact, you may want to rethink the relationship altogether.
A healthy, meaningful relationship should not be exhausting to keep up with, and you should not feel emotionally, physically, or mentally drained when you interact with this person. When a relationship is right for you, you feel like a better person for it. You feel supportive and supported, valued and able to make others feel the same.
You should try to spend time together when you can. You don’t have to place a lot of emphasis on what you do together, even if you’re just talking on the phone or eating takeout while you watch a show together. The most important thing to focus on is your time together and your ability to enjoy one another’s company.
In any decent relationship, you might have a disagreement or two, where the true value of your relationship is tested. When this happens, give the other person a reasonable amount of time to cool off, then discuss the problem as maturely as you can. Know when to forgive and when to consider the action a red flag.
It’s impossible to force a healthy relationship, so if you’re having an exceptionally hard time, look at it as a suggestion to redirect your efforts. Healthy relationships should form organically, and when they happen, each person wants to remain involved with the other.
Due to the benefits of keeping your relationships strong enough to impact your well-being in a positive way, it’s always a good idea to make an effort. The first couple of tries might not always result in friendship, romance, or even decent conversations, but don’t give up. Keep trying and once you find that you have people in your life who care about you and have your best interest in mind, do your best to nurture these people and return the care they give you.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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The information, knowledge, and experience shared on this website is the opinion of SupplementRelief.com. This site and its content is intended to enhance your knowledge base as YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE DECISIONS in partnership with your qualified health professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products referred to are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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