Humans are naturally drawn to one another and seek to form meaningful, loving relationships. Besides making us feel better about ourselves, these connections are vital for maintaining our health and survival.
Contrary to popular belief, being healthy doesn’t just mean you must be free of all forms of illnesses and injuries. Instead, it also encompasses the state of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. All its aspects are interconnected and work symbiotically to ensure your overall health and fitness. But while certain behavioral habits like exercise, a balanced diet, and staying hydrated are well-known factors that impact health, most people don’t count relationships as a contributing asset. When in fact, research shows that human interactions, whether romantic or platonic, can significantly impact your mental health and welfare.
Your innate tendency to speak proves how humans need to form meaningful connections to evolve, physically and psychologically. By providing a sense of belonging, relationships offer a safe space to grow and learn—without the fear of judgment or failure. However, you still may be wondering how it can impact your health.
To help you understand, here are the top eight reasons why maintaining relationships can be critical to sustaining healthy living.
Increases your life expectancy
While this may shock some individuals, studies show that people with healthier and happier relationships tend to live longer. You’re less likely to get stressed when you have a supportive partner.
In contrast, social isolation can negatively impact your health, making it a major risk for mortality. You may seek solace by drinking or substance abuse when you’re lonely. But these behaviors can significantly lower your life expectancy.
Fortunately, you can receive treatment from experts like the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, which can help you break these habits and offer effective coping mechanisms. Additionally, having a loved one with you can make the process feel much better and help you go through its challenges more easily.
Promotes quicker healing
A healthy and positive relationship can quickly heal your wounds, both physical and emotional ones. When you’re out of surgery or healing after an accident, having a loved one by your side can significantly impact recovery. Although this mechanism is not yet well-understood, a close friend or relative may ensure you take proper care of yourself and take all relevant precautions. Additionally, some researchers attribute this recovery power to lower levels of cortisol—a hormone secreted during stressful conditions. High cortisol concentrations can impede the body’s immune system and prolong an individual’s rehabilitation.
Another study in Ohio shows that married couples in a positive relationship had their blisters healed faster than ones who were hostile to one another.
Reduces blood pressure
If you work or live in a stressful environment or are often prone to panic attacks, you’re more at risk of developing chronic health conditions. Your body’s hormones can rise to unhealthy levels when you overthink and overanalyze every situation. Due to this, your heartbeat gets faster, and your blood pressure shoots up. If this is a typical occurrence, the heart eventually tires and stops beating. However, being in a relationship can lower your stress levels considerably. By sharing your burden and seeing a problem from different perspectives, you’re more likely to remain in control of your surroundings. As a result, your blood pressure stays normal, and you stay away from the risk of developing severe coronary diseases.
Lessens your pain
Opioids are effective pain killers that activate the reward centers in your brain and relieve pain. When you’re in love or involved in a meaningful relationship, that part of your brain gets activated. So, while the pain is still present, your body becomes less sensitive to it and helps you endure it. Additionally, oxytocin—more commonly referred to as the “love drug” can also reduce pain signals. It can also bind with cell receptors specific to opioids and stimulate the release of natural opioids in the body.
Even having a pet can lessen your pain and enhance your endurance levels. Your body’s reinforcing environment encourages positive things to persist and diminishes the effect of harmful substances.
Encourages a healthier lifestyle
Whether consciously or subconsciously, you must realize the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle and ways to go about it. Even then, bringing crucial and noteworthy changes to your routine is not easy, especially when doing it alone. However, when you partner with someone, like your friend, spouse, or sibling, you have greater chances of staying persistent with the new healthy standard. You can push each other to eat better, plan workout sessions together, and be there for one another to avoid falling into bad habits. Such relationships also make it more probable to get a medical follow-up or go to a doctor’s visit that you might have been putting off for too long.
Stimulates positive moods
Being surrounded by people who value you the most can help you feel better about yourself. Often, we become our most prominent critics and find it challenging to look for anything worthwhile about ourselves. These feelings can manifest into more severe conditions and cause depression or anxiety in some individuals. But with friends and family there to support and reinforce your importance, you have a lower risk of developing a mental illness. Healthy relationships also secrete endorphins or “feel good” hormones that induce positive moods.
Your brain is an essential organ of the body. If a bleak or pessimistic environment surrounds it, it won’t be able to function to its potential. So, positive feelings and emotions are crucial for your well-being.
Provides emotional support
Emotional support is one of the most beneficial things you can cultivate in your relationships. It allows you to cope with stress and work productively, despite whatever obstacles you face in your everyday life. When you don’t feel strong enough to handle a particular situation, you can count on your friendships and associations to help you through them. They alleviate emotional distress, promote mental well-being, enhance self-esteem, and provide a strong network of support. Therefore, emotional support can reduce your risk of falling prey to chronic illnesses. And even if you do fall sick, you’ll have better chances of making a quick recovery.
Relationships aren’t just beneficial in making you feel happy but can also maintain your mental and physical well-being. And since healthy relationships and individuals go hand-in-hand, investing in one can automatically enhance the other.