The quality of your relationships and social interactions with your spouse, family and friends can have a major impact on your overall health—both positively and negatively.
On one hand, a good relationship boosts health and longevity by reducing stress levels and motivating you to maintain healthy habits. It can even boost your longevity by a whopping 50 percent. On the other hand, a bad relationship can increase stress levels, which may strain the cardiovascular, nervous, digestive and endocrine systems. Poor relationships can also weaken immunity and worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
So, how can you create healthy relationships with the people closest to you? Start by taking the following steps:
Try to understand your partner, family and friends. Sometimes, it can be hard to understand how or why a loved one is reacting to a certain situation or conflict—especially if you don’t agree with them. But try to take a step back, broaden your scope and understand the story from their perspective.
Listen and communicate. If your spouse, family member or friend is going through a hard time (or just needs a vent session) one of the best things you can do is simply be present and listen—without being critical.
Forgive and accept forgiveness. It can be hard to forgive someone—and harder to ask for forgiveness yourself. Being open and honest is key to maintaining a healthy relationship, even if vulnerability may be uncomfortable sometimes.
Support your loved ones. Celebrate your loved ones’ achievements the same way you’d celebrate your own—with sincerity, enthusiasm and excitement.
Another simple way to build healthy relationships is by monitoring and recording how they make you feel each day. If you’re getting into frequent arguments with your spouse, for example, take a moment to assess the situation: What’s sparking these arguments? Are there external factors at play? How can you begin to resolve these issues? Understanding the causes, effects and possible resolutions for conflicts can help strengthen your communication and relationship.