Good health and well-being is a top priority for most people. You know that eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep are essential for good health. But did you know that nurturing quality relationships with others can be just as important for your long-term health?
According to Harvard Health Publications, “Good connections can improve health and increase longevity.” The benefits of having strong relationships include improved physical and mental health as well as increased happiness throughout life.
The Mayo Clinic reports that adults that have strong social connections tend to have lower rates of depression, decrease their risk of high blood pressure, as well as lowering their risk of having a high Body Mass Index (BMI) and the health risks that come with it. The Mayo Clinic also reports that these socially well-connected adults are likely to live longer than adults with less social support.
If you already have strong relationships in place, it is important to put in the effort to maintain those relationships for a lifetime. If your social network is more on the barren side, it is even more important for your health and happiness to cultivate new relationships.
Disconnect to Connect
With smart phones and social media, it seems like we are more connected than ever before. However, being connected digitally often means feeling disconnected to those that you are physically with. By being mindful of those you are with, you open yourself to meaningful connection. When you are eating dinner, out with others, or spending time with your family, turn off your phone, put it away, and have a conversation with those you are with.
Pursue One-on-One Time
While parties and large gatherings are often fun and stimulating events, quality one-on-one time with a friend or family member makes engaging in meaningful conversation possible. Make a standing monthly lunch date with someone important to you. For even more health benefits, consider meeting for a walk so you can connect while getting in some exercise.
Improve Your Listening Skills
Improve many of your relationships simply by getting better at listening. Everybody has an innate need to feel understood and listened to. When you are with your friends and loved ones, make sure to focus on what they are saying and listening with all of your attention.
Expand Your Social Network
Look for ways to meet new people. Say yes to invitations to go new places or try new things. Oftentimes a social occasion that you are not looking forward to ends up being a great time and you may just meet a new friend.
Joining a club or organization gives you the opportunity to be active doing something you enjoy as well as connecting you with other individuals who share your same interests.
Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering in your community is a great way to give back to others and develop your relationships. Volunteer with a friend to increase your time together or look towards volunteering as a way to meet new people and expand your circle of friends.
Get a Pet
Canine or feline companionship can also improve your health. WebMD reports that having a pet can make for a healthier heart, lower stress, and improved mood. Pets can also be a social advantage as well. Walking your dog regularly helps you meet other dog owners while getting in exercise.
Say How You Feel
Make sure you tell those you are close to what they mean to you. You may think that your friends and loved ones know how you feel but telling people what they mean to you strengthens bonds and improves the quality of your relationships.
Pursuing strong relationships adds impressive benefits to your health and well-being. Whether you are looking to lower your blood pressure or add years of good health to your life, strengthening your current relationships and adding new quality ones will help you realize your health goals.