Part 7 Practical Wellness: Relationships
“Like exercise, our relationships have real effects on our physiology, health and development,” said J. Eric Vance, M.D.,
Are relationshops important for wellness?
Have you ever started a new positive relationship with someone and noticed just how good that felt?
Most people have experienced the ‘honeymoon phase’ in an intimate relationship where there was love, excitement and passion that seemed to lift them up on a cloud where life’s troubles are replaced with hope and reality is suddenly seen through a new rose tinted lens.
That is the power of love in an intimate relationship but falling in love is elusive and the honeymoon phase tends to fade or not last but it does show us the impact another can have on your internal state. The opposite can be true also where a toxic or negative relationship can have a incredibly negative impact on wellbeing and even health.
Why your relationships are important for your wellness
Although you will be most affected by your most intimate relationships such as a spouse, partner or parent, there are many relationships that will play an important role in your wellness. Relationships are all about connections and how you connect with the people whom you relate to regularly or whom are important to you in some way such as your friends, colleagues or a boss.
The quality of the relationship depends on the quality of the connection and a positive relationship can be defined as when both people are growing and supporting or contributing to each others growth. To put that simply a healthy relationship is where a win-win scenario is present and in an unhealthy relationship one or both people is losing.
The anti-stress effect of healthy relationships
Building positive relationships, especially with those closest to you, can have a profoundly positive impact on wellbeing and even health. Research has shown that people with a network or close relationships provides strong protection against the effects of stress and illness. In fact statistics now clearly show that isolation is the biggest determinant of premature death!
Feeling safe in a healthy relationship has even been shown to release hormones like oxytocin that have an ‘anti-stress’ effect by helping to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol and even boost the immune system. In fact the protective effect of healthy relationships is statistically comparable to the benefits of quitting smoking.
The complexity of human relationships
The reality is that human relationships are not always that simple and as anyone in a long term relationship will testify that relationships are not easy. Human beings and their behaviour can seem incredibly complex and it can be difficult enough to enjoy the connection with ourself, never mind with someone else.
Some relationships can be by far the most difficult dimension of wellness to get right and yet the reward and return on investment that comes from maintaining healthy relationships are incredible. Relationships also provide the greatest opportunity to learn more about yourself and a huge amount of personal growth can be achieved by working on relationships and by resolving conflicts.
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