A birthday dinner with family members. A late night phone call to your best friend. Game night with your spouse and children. And everything in between. These interactions make up the fabric of your relationships with others. And they contribute significantly to your overall wellbeing.
Positive relationships don’t just make us feel better. They also have a direct impact on our health. In fact, studies have shown that people who lack social ties have double the risk of dying prematurely than those with fulfilling connections.
Let’s take a closer look at how positive relationships shape our lives:
They make us healthier. Relationships and how they influence our physiological health is a robust area of research. Here are a few eye-opening results from available studies:
- Positive relationships mean fewer colds. (Today.com)
- Committed relationships lead to better mental health for women and better physical health for men. (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
- People in committed, romantic relationships produce less of the stress hormone, cortisol. (University of Chicago)
- Middle-aged women in happy marriages have a lower risk of heart disease than those in unhappy marriages. (Harvard Medical School)
They make us happier. While we may not always prioritize strengthening our social bonds, they hugely influence our quality of life. PsychologyToday.com cites a study that showed people felt happier when they interacted with those with whom they felt they had a “strong tie.” Those interactions also made them feel more a part of a community. And Gallup.com presents information from a study that shows that when we can be “social” for six hours a day we’re less stressed and have improved wellbeing.
They provide support. When we don’t have anyone to turn to during stressful or difficult times, those adversities can have a greater negative impact on our lives. Joint research from Carnegie Mellon and the University of California, Santa Barbara shows that relationships help us thrive by providing “source of strength support.” Essentially, in times of adversity, these relationships help reduce stress levels while in good times the support provided enables us to “embrace and pursue opportunities that enhance positive well-being.”
Bottom line: positive relationships make you feel better—mentally and physically. Take the time to cultivate great connections so that you can maximize the benefits of great relationships in your own life. If you’re in a relationship rut, getting back on track isn’t difficult. Spend 5 minutes investing in a relationship with a loved one today. Regardless of whether it’s an email, phone call or scheduled date, your wellbeing will get a boost.