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    10 Surprising Ways Having Strong Relationships Can Benefit Your Health

    10 Surprising Ways Having Strong Relationships Can Benefit Your Health

    Strong relationships
    Strong relationships

    We know that the winter months can be hard. After the holiday season, it only seems natural to want to hunker down indoors and hibernate until spring. As tempting as it might be to stay cozy on the couch for days and weeks on end, it can also leave you feeling a bit bored, lonely, and down in the dumps.

    Social isolation was already a problem before the pandemic. But over the past couple of years, it’s become as big of a problem as ever—and we’re not out of the woods yet. Loneliness is associated with a number of physical and mental health problems, including heart disease, stroke, anxiety, and depression.

    It may be difficult to get together with people during the colder months and during times when physical distancing is necessary, but if you can get a little creative, the payoff is worth it. Here’s why…

    1. Strong relationships make you happier.

    Friendship is positively linked to greater life satisfaction. These findings aren’t really surprising, but researchers think people with richer social lives are happier because they tend to increase their sense of belonging while also serving as a source of positive affirmation.

    2. Healthy relationships help your confidence and self-esteem.

    Hanging out with the wrong people can have a negative effect on your self-esteem, but the right crowd can actually give it a boost. Researchers have found that the association between people’s relationships and their self-esteem is reciprocal, meaning that as your self-esteem increases, so does the quality of friendships.

    3. Having strong relationships makes life feel more meaningful.

    Positive daily social events have been linked to increased daily meaning. So if your day-to-day experiences seem particularly lacklustre these days, you might be able to improve your sense of purpose or significance just by involving people more often and in different ways.

    4. You’re less likely to have depression if you have a strong relationship with someone else.

    In a study of over 4,600 American adults, those who experienced more social strain, less social support, and poor relationship quality had higher rates of depression. In fact, those with the lowest relationship quality overall had nearly double the risk of depression compared to those with the highest relationship quality.

    5. Strong relationships can help you cope with stress and anxiety.

    Social support has been shown to buffer the negative effects of stress on mental health. Having supportive people in your life can help you regulate your negative emotions, keep perspective when things seem hopeless, and practice emotional problem-solving.

    6. Strong relationships make you more likely to stick to healthy habits and avoid bad ones.

    Social connection—especially the quality of relationships—can affect our choices and our behaviour in a number of ways. For instance, research has shown that there are significant links between group exercise and social bonding. People with strong relationships are also more likely to have healthier lifestyles in general, showing a lower risk of engaging in negative behaviours like smoking, drinking, and drug use.

    7. Being in a strong romantic relationship leads to better sleep quality.

    Social connection—especially the quality of relationships—can affect our choices and our behaviour in a number of ways. For instance, research has shown that there are significant links between group exercise and social bonding. People with strong relationships are also more likely to have healthier lifestyles in general, showing a lower risk of engaging in negative behaviours like smoking, drinking, and drug use.

    8. Strong relationships benefit your microbiome, which improves your immune system.

    The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut (known as the microbiome) are intimately connected to our physical and mental health. The composition of the microbiome is shaped by many factors, including diet, lifestyle, and stress levels—however, it’s also been shown that social relationships can have a significant impact on it. Specifically, positive social interactions in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood have all been connected to better gut health.

    9. Strong relationships can help prevent cognitive decline.

    Social engagement has been consistently linked to better cognitive function in old age. This may be because socializing provides opportunities for mental stimulation, helps to ward off loneliness and isolation, and encourages people to stay active both physically and mentally. A lack of social interaction is also associated with a higher risk of dementia

    10. People with strong social connections live longer than those who don't.

    Strong relationships are associated with better health outcomes as we get older, particularly when it comes to risk of early death. And it makes sense, because social connections provide people with important sources of emotional and instrumental support. Social isolation, on the other hand, has been linked to increased risk of chronic illness and death in general.

    Reconnect With Those Who Mean the Most to You

    You can’t argue with human nature—relationships are extremely important to our health and well-being. With that said, we encourage you to make an effort during this time of year to put in the extra effort by prioritizing the people who mean the most to you, reaching out to those you haven’t heard from in a while, and getting creative during the time you spend together.

    What’s your favourite activity to do with friends or family during winter? Let us know in the comments below!




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