Relationships are fundamental to our mental health and well-being. Whether it’s family, friends, a co-worker, or a life partner—studies show that people with strong connections to others are healthier, happier, and live longer.
According to Harvard Health Publishing (HHP), scientists are drawing a direct correlation between stress levels and human connections. A healthy bond with someone special in your life can spark stress-relieving hormones that help to minimize the adverse effects stress has on your heart, gut, insulin levels, and immune system. Good relationships also influence our long-term health in ways that are as powerful as good sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. And conversely, people who are lonely or isolated will feel these effects on their mental and physical health.
So how do you cultivate strong and satisfying relationships that feed your body, mind, and soul?
Tips for Building Healthy Relationships
1. Speak your mind with patience and kindness
Healthy relationships have enough trust, respect, and honesty to handle your ideas, needs and point of view.
2. Learn and practice healthy communication
Try using an ‘I statement’ rather than a ‘you statement.’ For example, try saying, “I was sad that you didn’t come when you said you would,” instead of, “You are always late, and I can never count on you.”
3. Be dependable, reliable, and fair
Consistency is a building block for a healthy relationship. If you find that keeping commitments is hard, work on setting priorities, time management, and clarifying your values.
4. Have fun together
Spend time doing fun activities that build strong bonds. Get out into nature, watch a movie, cook, or do a home repair project. Whatever you both find enjoyable, set the date and do it regularly.
5. Fight fairly
Learning how to disagree is part of any relationship. Express yourself calmly without shaming or blaming and listen to the other person’s viewpoint. If the discussion gets heated, take a break and try again. Don’t expect people to read your mind, and don’t hold grudges.
Relationship Red Flags
Not all relationships are good for us, so pay attention to a few unhealthy warning signs.
- When someone stops showing up emotionally or physically for you, they’re telling you they are not reliable or invested.- When someone lies, cheats, or breaks the agreement of the relationship consistently, they’re telling you they’re not trustworthy.
- When someone exhibits threatening emotional, verbal, or physical behavior, they’re showing you toxicity and they do not have your best interest at heart.
If you feel you are in an abusive relationship, contact your local domestic abuse support services. NJ Hotline 800-799-7233 or text 88788.
Nurture Your Mental Health
Emotional health directly impacts physical health. Take action to nurture and care for your mental well-being.