Valentine’s Day is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of February, followed by love and relationships. Relationships are vital to supporting our emotional well-being, can reduce stress, and promote overall health. No matter the type of relationship, a cornerstone of healthy relationships is communication. Ask yourself if you do the following:
- Respect each other. Regardless of whether you think respect is earned or freely given, mutual respect is part of a healthy relationship. The other person’s values and feelings matter, as do yours.
- Compromise. Conflict resolution is rarely fun, but necessary when you encounter disagreement. Try to be fair, rational, and kind.
- Offer support. Reassurance and encouragement go a long way in maintaining a relationship. It may also be necessary to speak up when you need support.
- Speak up. Bottled up emotions breed resentment, harm emotional wellbeing, and will surface sooner or later. If something is bothering you, talk about it!
- Respect each other’s privacy. Even the closest relationships need space sometimes. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you must share everything and constantly be together. Trusting your partner is another essential ingredient to healthy relationships.
How did you do? Don’t limit your thinking to just romantic relationships. Consider your other social relationships as well. Human beings are social creatures, and connecting with others is paramount to well-being. A multitude of research and studies come to the following conclusions:
- People with healthy social relationships have a 50 percent greater likelihood of survival.
- People with poor relationships are more likely to suffer from depression.
- Loneliness, also known as social isolation, is powerful enough to weaken our immune system.
- There is a link between negative communication patterns (such as anger and contempt) and broken relationships.
- Relationship stress undermines health through behavioral, psychosocial, and physiological pathways.