How Healthy Relationships Can Improve Health

Relationships can directly impact how one is feeling at any given moment. Whether with friends, familyco-workerssignificant others and spouses, a positive or negative interaction can really do a number on the rest of one’s day. After a negative interaction (even if it comes down to a tiff over something ultimately insignificant), people tend to feel frustrated or sad. Alternately, positive interactions through a solid, supportive relationship that is built on a strong foundation can actually promote health and wellbeing.  

This isn’t just a feeling — it’s backed by research! According to a study published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website, “social relationships — both quantity and quality — affect mental health, health behavior, physical health and mortality risk.” A link between social relationships and health outcomes has been established by sociologists and it begins with childhood and continues on throughout adulthood. 

It’s inherent in people’s nature to want to connect. People desire closeness and company, and those things can contribute to better health! Win-win! For those looking to define a “healthy relationship,” there are some key components, including: 

Listening Skills — everyone likes to feel as though their voice is really being heard 

Open Communication — don’t be afraid to talk to one another   

Trust — this is a big one, and easier said than done; however, unharnessed trust in one another is key to a healthy and happy relationship  

Respect — it’s important that this be mutual 

Make the Time — Committing to one another also means setting aside time to spend together 

Be Thoughtful — Make a habit of remembering important dates and special occasions (birthday, anniversaries, etc.) 

Have Fun Together — A joint hobby can help a couple bond through shared experiences 

When it comes to relationships, it’s easy for some to get caught up in the moment or to even lose themselves a little to their partner. However, this can lead to unhealthy habits such as co-dependency. Each half of the partnership needs to look after him or herself first. Sound selfish? It’s not. Those that are constantly filling others’ cups before their own will quickly become depleted (and possibly even bitter or resentful). It’s perfectly okay (and super healthy) to fill one’s own cup first — and let that overflow to her partner and everyone else in her life. Once one is properly recharged, she can offer more to any given relationship — and watch it blossom!

When it comes time to discuss an aspect of the relationship that isn’t fully satisfying one half of the partnership or the other, it’s okay to speak up. One’s partner may not even realize there is a problem or concern unless the other brings it up. However, approaching the topic in a positive way versus negative can go a long way in motivating the partner to want to acquiesce. 

Everyone likes to feel needed! When it comes to another element of a healthy, happy relationship, those that acknowledge positive attributes and contributions of their partner can help strengthen their bond and make their partner feel important — and needed. 

Being part of a healthy relationship truly can provide each partner with so many wonderful health benefits including reduced stress, easier and better healing for those that are recovering or that need emotional support; healthier habits (from exercise to eating right, this can be a lot easier not to mention more fun when done in tandem!); the sense of purpose and wellbeing; and even longer life expectancy. So, do as Crosby, Stills and Nash sang about and “Love the One You’re With” — it could very well lead to a healthier and happier life!  

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