How relationships can affect your stress levelsDave Smith
You know that healthy and supportive relationships bring joy and satisfaction to your life, but did you know that they can also help you reduce your stress levels and stay healthy for longer?
Social connections are a natural way for people to manage stress and stay vital: we are connected from birth to seek relationships for a sense of security. By satisfying these different needs, your relationships can help you increase your energy and sense of well-being.
Specifically, social connections can help relieve stress by:
- Be inherently nice
- Offer a sense of belonging, be needed and be useful.
- Provide opportunities to learn from friends.
- Giving you the opportunity to help others
- Giving you the opportunity to feel valued
- Provide meaning in life.
- Offer help to solve problems.
- Offer pragmatic help (for example, give a ride when your car is in the store)
Provide emotional support in difficult times.
Research has also shown that healthy relationships can help us live longer. A nine-year historical study (published in 1979) analyzed the death rates of 6,928 people and found that the death rate of socially isolated people was twice as high as that of people with strong social ties. Similarly, another study found that in the course of three years, men surviving heart attacks were twice as likely to die when they were socially isolated compared to those who had more connections.
Much of the power of relationships lies in the opportunity they offer to laugh, play and share good times. Importantly, the sense of connection they offer can allow you to feel part of something bigger than you. This allows you to feel supported and comforted in bad times. During daily life, you can also support your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle (such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly). Therefore, by making loving and supportive relationships a central part of how you take care of yourself, you are likely to be less stressed by life’s difficulties, appreciate more of the good that comes your way and live a longer and longer Happy life.
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