.This article first appeared on the Spirited Natural blog on August 8th, 2019.
Inexpensive, no special equipment, no supplements or shakes and you can choose to participate online or in person, at work or at play, in the morning or the night. What is this magical key to good health? Healthy Relationships! Scientific studies have shown that having meaningful relationships boosts our health as much as a proper diet, adequate sleep and exercise and managing stress. In addition, research shows that conflict in relationship and social isolation is associated with increased inflammation, higher risk of heart disease, depression, cognitive decline and earlier mortality. Here are some tools to nurture the relationships so you can live a long and happy life.
Quality not Quantity is What Matters
All relationships, not just romantic relationships, can meet our need for social connection – family gatherings, hanging out with friends or work colleagues, community or religious activities. Having just one non-judgmental relationship is more important that having many trivial relationships. They key is having relationships where you feel supported and that there someone is there for you, in good times and in bad times.
Deal with Conflict
Conflict is an inevitable part of human relationships. When we feel criticized or rejected, it can trigger a stress response in our bodies. And often, we respond by getting defensive or withdrawing emotionally, which can escalate the conflict. Avoiding conflict is not a healthy solution for you or the relationship as unexpressed emotions fester below the surface and resentments could build up. Furthermore, it does not create space to solve the problem at hand. Dealing with conflict head on gives you and opportunity to repair and heal, which can ultimately strengthen the relationship.
One of my favourite quotes on communication is by Mark Nepo, he says “To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.” We are often so focused on what we are going to say next or being right, that many of us don’t truly listen when we are in a conversation. When people feel like they are truly listened to, they feel valued, respected and appreciated which are important foundations of a healthy relationship.
Focus on You
To nurture healthy relationships, we have to be willing to work on ourselves. While it may be easy to find fault in our spouse, children, friends or colleagues, the reality it, there is only one person we can change. We can learn to be more loving, compassionate and understanding so our relationships will flourish. We can choose to recognize that our personal baggage, insecurities, fears, desires and hurt feelings are impacting the quality of our relationships. We can stop taking things personally, playing the victim and trying to control the outcome to develop a stronger emotional connections. This work is no easy task, but opens the door to beautiful relationships and a joyful life.
Small Things Often
Quality relationships don’t require lavish gifts, but small positive actions done every day. Whey you express your appreciation and tell people what you love about them, it helps both you and them. People need to feel validated and it serves as a reminder to you of why this relationship is important to you. Find out the “love language” for your important relationships and show love in ways that they can receive it.
Kaylan Bartholomew is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a Hatha Yoga Instructor who helps busy parents make healthier choices for themselves and their families, creating a balanced and joyful life. Kaylan can be contacted at +1 868-332-9841.