Approximately one-third to one-half of the American population has experienced significant stress, anxiety, or sadness that was difficult to cope with alone over the last year and a half. Yet, in many instances, coping with these feelings alone seemed to be the only way to cope. In 2021, the spotlight shines on not only the value of healthy relationships in general, but also on the ways to nurture relationships, regardless of the external circumstances. As we continue to focus on mental health this month, let’s create a strategy for energizing our relationships, thus generating a healthy fuel for our lives!
“Relationships are so powerful – we don’t always appreciate the many levels at which they affect us.” (psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser)
Why are healthy relationships so important to our overall well-being?
- Healthy relationships encourage personal growth.
- Positive relationships add meaning to our life.
- Healthy relationships can decrease stress and lead to a longer life.
- Social support in life.
As you can see, healthy relationships have a powerful and positive impact on our lives. Whether you consider familial relationships, friendships, or relationships with colleagues, neighbors, etc., there are many aspects to fostering a healthy relationship.
People in healthy relationships tend to:
- Listen to each other
- Communicate openly and without judgment
- Trust and respect each other
- Consistently make time for one another
- Remember details about each other’s lives
- Engage in healthy activities together
These tips can look differently for the different types of relationships in your life, and that is also healthy. It is important that both sides of the relationship (both you and your counterpart) have agreed on what it looks like to make time for each other or engage in activities together. Honest communication is key here – what are you wanting and willing to give to the relationship, as well as what do you each expect and need from each other.
As we know, this last year has really challenged us to consider the value relationships have in our lives and how we can nurture them in a variety of ways. We thrive in community, and we can do so regardless of how we create that community. The University of Texas Dell Medical School suggests looking at relationships with a more in-depth perspective than we may have in the past:
- Have empathy. The world is stressful; it’s always been stressful; and people have always responded to stress in their own way. Twenty-twenty-one is no different. Having respect for each other’s feelings in times of uncertainty provides support, even encouragement.
- Communicate in-person and virtually. Talking about your own stress levels and coping styles can help set expectations and alleviate conflict.
- Schedule self-care. Studies show that self-care is more important than ever! Taking care of yourself is part of becoming who you need to be in a healthy relationship!
- Expect conflict. It provides an opportunity to better understand what the people around you need, so work together to resolve the conflict and grow through it!
- Celebrate each other. Find time to celebrate the big things, as well as the small things. Celebration is energizing for all involved!
Healthy relationships fuel us, providing connection, encouragement, growth, and support… regardless of any external circumstances!