Most everyone can recognize the signs of destructive relationships, but do we truly understand the benefits of surrounding ourselves with healthy, supportive relationships?
Having a foundation of family and friends that back you and lift you up can help you live a longer, happier life.
Some other advantages to cultivating healthy connections are:
- Having someone who is willing to listen and share in our victories (and failures – without judging). Isn’t it more fun to celebrate with someone else than just ourselves for company?
- Speaking of having someone willing to listen, just the act of talking with a friend or partner through a bad experience can be a stress reliever. Doesn’t it feel better to vent frustrations after a bad day? I honestly don’t know what I would do without having my husband as a sounding board. He allows me to bend his ear when I experience frustrations at work, as well as offering me sound advice on how to deal with difficult situations.
- Participation in healthy habits – those who surround themselves with others that live healthy tend to follow suit. This can mean eating healthier or partaking in exercise. It is easier to avoid that indulgent dessert if your companion forgoes the sweets as well. Having a friend keeping you accountable in an exercise program can help you to realize success with your fitness goals.
- It is often motivating and more fun to share in an activity with a friend, rather than alone. Having a “go-to” friend for enjoying different activities can encourage one to participate in several pursuits. For example, my daughter and I love to go hiking together (that’s us in the pic at the top of this post). We seek each other out when we have free time and want to get out in nature.
- Having someone with which to attend social engagements. Some may not mind not having a companion to accompany them, but most do enjoy having a mate along when going to a group gathering.
- Research suggests that those who engage in healthy social relationships live longer lives – one particular study found that those who have healthy relationships are half less likely to die early than those who live more isolated lives.
In fact, that same study noted that having a low amount of social activity was more harmful than not exercising, twice as detrimental as obesity, and equivalent to being alcoholic!
Of course, this is not to discount those aforementioned unhealthy habits – it is important to avoid them to maintain health. However, we need to pay attention to and foster positive relationships in our lives.
To be clear, a supportive relationship does not necessarily have to be a romantic one. Just having social connections with a friend or family member can make a healthy difference in our lives, so long as the relationship is a positive one.
Ways to ensure healthy, supportive relationships
There really is no secret to fostering great relationships; the key is simple – spending time with those special in your life. While this sounds easy, it takes dedication and conviction to follow through.
We must make time in our busy lives to cultivate friendships. Building supportive, healthy relationships simply involves being with others. Make sure that if you make plans, you follow through. It can also be very helpful with everyone’s days being so hectic to schedule time each week or month to be with those you love.
It is a plus, too, if you can give the support you receive. Be a good listener. Give advice – but only if asked. Sometimes we just need someone to listen. Don’t judge. Compromise on when and where to meet and what activities to enjoy together.
Surrounding yourself with those who show you love and support can not only make life more enjoyable, it can actually help you live longer. When we have others in our lives that enjoy healthy habits and activities, we tend to commit to living healthier as well.
We only get one life, and it’s too short not to spend it with those who uplift and support us.
Do you have a special friend or relative that you love being with? If so, what activities do you enjoy together? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below.
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