There is no better feeling than having a strong inner circle that you know you can lean on. Science also backs up the benefits of having solid relationships whether they be friendships, family or romantic. We are a social species and depend heavily on others for our overall survival, the key is making sure you are involved in relationships that are mutually beneficial which begs the question, “what do a healthy relationship look like?”
Indications of Healthy Relationships
You know your relationships with other people are healthy when:
You listen to each other respectfully.
Can communicate with openness and no judgment.
There is visible trust and respect shown.
No matter how busy life gets you make time for each other.
You know and remember even the most mundane facts of each other’s lives.
You engage in healthy activities with each other.
Health Benefits of Healthy Relationships
Now that we’ve taken time to identify some traits of healthy relationships it is time to dive into the benefits of having those connections.
1. When you are involved in healthy relationships your stress levels go way down. This is particularly true of romantic, committed relationships where studies have shown a link to less cortisol (a stress hormone) in married couples. In fact, your stress levels will probably go down just from cohabitating versus living apart where you will have a stronger sense of support from having someone you trust so close by.
2. Married and cohabitating partners are also great for the healing process. This can extend to major surgery or simply just receiving that extra help to remember to take your medications. One studied showed married couples are much less likely to be worried about major surgery or any subsequent pain that could follow proving a little emotional support can go a long way.
3. Having healthy relationships can set the stage for a healthier lifestyle in general. “You are the company you keep” could not be more true when it comes to your health and how you handle mental, emotional and physical health. If you are around people that value overall wellness, you too are more likely to value things that improve your life from top to bottom.
4. Solid relationships give us a sense of purpose and can give more meaning to our lives. As a species we want to feel needed and having healthy relationships that nurture that want are important. In fact, people in loving relationships no matter what form have a higher sense of purpose and that can add years onto your life.
5. Along the same lines, a lack of healthy relationships has been shown to have the same effect on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Not great. Even just a handful of close, meaningful relationships can improve your quality of life and help you avoid early death.
It is important to remember that everyone is different and some people crave company more than others. Even if you are someone that prefers more alone time than most it is still important to form a few meaningful relationships that you can turn to on those occasions when you do need some company. It can have a profound affect on your physical, emotional and mental well-being.