• The Effects Of Relationships On Health

    Last week, Sean Lewis spoke about how a lack of rest can contribute to cravings. Today, he talks about relationships being one of the 4 pillars of healthy living. Read further to find out about the causes of illness and stress and the benefits of group activities on health.

    Did you know that the long-term effects of feeling lonely and isolated are comparable to the risks associated with smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity? I’m not the “bad news man”, so I’ll tell you what you can do to escape this troubling reality.

    As I’ve noted in my previous posts, modernity has brought us a rapid paced lifestyle. We are finding it harder and harder to participate in those key elements of life that are major determinants of our health. I call them the 4 R’s. Rest, recreation, regimented nutrition, and relationships. These are the 4 pillars of health and today’s post is about relationships.

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    Relationships are the building blocks of our lives. Relationships and establishing connections with others is deeply engrained in human behavior. In fact, failing to maintain strong meaningful relationships can have serious negative health consequences. A 2012 international Gallup poll found that, “people who feel they have friends and family to count on are generally more satisfied with their personal health than people who feel isolated.” In addition, people who spend more time in isolation are more likely to suffer with depression and lowed immunity.

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    Sean & his wife Anabel have been married for over 20 years.

    “It’s important to remind ourselves that when we share our lives with someone, we can place unnecessary stress on our relationships. We have to remember to consider the feelings of the other and be mindful that it’s not all about what “I” want.”

    Clearly, if we have friends that are not a positive influence in our lives, we can more readily change these friendships. It’s a whole other can of worms when we are dissatisfied in our marriage or partnerships. Being unhappy with our partner can cause a constant production of stress hormones that slowly erode our immune system. In the long-term this increases our probability of acquiring illness. It’s important to remind ourselves that when we share our lives with someone, we can place unnecessary stress on our relationships. We have to remember to consider the feelings of the other and be mindful that it’s not all about what “I” want. Parents are also putting a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves. Though it is important to introduce our children to a variety of activities, it can also be argued that allowing the family to just chill out on a weekend has great merits as well. All the running about can cause neglect of our relationship and lead to elevated stress due to lack of downtime. Remember that REST is one of the 4 R’s.

    We need to always be mindful of our personal needs. Outside of our relationship we need to pursue friendships which are critical to our sense of well being. Ways to find new friends can be explored in a variety of avenues. Being mindful of our 4 pillars of health, think about recreational activities that bring people together. Try to choose exercise that promotes group activity. Since we know exercise helps to regulate positive hormones, we can tie it together with group activities which adds the social element. This way we are reaping the benefits of two of our 4 R’s at once! In addition, you are exploiting the effects of an increased positive state brought on by exercise, and, allowing that to cascade into the social interaction.

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    I realize that socializing takes energy, and when we’re feeling tired and burned out, social interaction is something we avoid. This however, is the time we most need the support of strong relationships. We can inevitably find ourselves perpetuating a negative self feeding cycle. It is recommended to meet people in a location where once you feel the need to leave, you are free to go. An example is, meeting at a coffee shop or at your friends house. When you have people over to your home, not knowing when they will leave can provoke anxiety thus preventing you from getting together in the first place.

    I encourage you to see your relationships as a fundamental part of your well-being. Without positive interactions and feeling close bonds toward loved ones we can be missing out on perhaps one of the greatest pillars of our health.

    Sean Lewis.

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