When people think about a healthy lifestyle, they usually consider diet and exercise as numbers one and two in their arsenal of tactics. But it turns out that relationships are way more important than people think. Eating well, sleeping properly, and getting plenty of physical activity is important, but how other people treat you can have a massive effect on how you feel.
According to numerous studies, people who have strong, positive relationships with their spouses and friends are less likely to develop heart disease than those who remain isolated. Being alone can increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation, which can all contribute to heart issues in the future.
It’s one of the reasons interventions like couples counseling are so essential. People in long-term unhappy relationships with their partners may be putting themselves at risk of deadly diseases like heart disease.
More studies reveal healthy relationships are good for brain health. Research indicates those with strong social connections are more likely to have a better cognitive function and a lower risk of conditions like dementia.
Brain health can be difficult to measure because of limitations in diagnostics and imaging. However, the available evidence seems to indicate that people who have stronger connections are much more likely to avoid degenerative conditions.
The reason for this might be the beneficial effects of having a purpose. People who know why they want to get out of bed in the morning are much more likely to engage with the world positively, making connections and using their brains. They have a sense of belonging, which can reduce the risk of anxiety and depression and impair memory and thinking.
Finally, healthy relationships can have a tremendous effect on mood. Studies by various universities find a positive relationship between the number of social interactions people have and their overall mood. Those with less social contact appear to feel less well, in general.
What appears to matter most is the quality of the interactions, not their quantity. People who have a few great conversations with others are more likely to report feeling good than those who have superficial-level interactions all day long.
How Can You Maintain Good Relationships?
Given the importance of good relationships on your overall health and well-being, it’s critical to prioritize them, just like diet and exercise.
But what should you be doing, specifically? Here are some ideas:-
- Try to be supportive. Show others you care about their health and well-being. Reach out to them before they reach out to you. Invite them out for a coffee or simply phone them up.
- Listen with empathy to what they say. Always celebrate their wins with them, and suggest how they could improve their lives further.
- Be yourself around them. Keep your opinions honest so they know who they are talking to.
- Be fun, and don’t take things too seriously. People love it when you can inject a little levity into their lives.