The support of family and friends can help you stay healthy.
By Sylvia Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
It's been said that no man (or woman, for that matter) is an island. And it's true: good relationships are essential to our happiness and emotional health. Our relationships can affect our physical health as well.
Indeed, one thing researchers know for sure is that our ability to feel love and intimacy is what keeps us well. Study after study has shown that loneliness is a risk factor for disease, and that relationships have a positive effect on everything from heart health to age-related health issues.
Nurture Your Relationships
It's not always easy to keep friendships and family connections strong when you're busy with work, children, and other demands on your time. Here are some tips for keeping those relationships healthy even in tough times:
- Visit with friends and family. Simple, but important. Take time to make a phone call, send an email, or write a quick note.
- Make new friends. Establishing new contacts with people who have similar lifestyles can help you feel that someone understands your daily challenges.
- If you feel too exhausted to talk to or relate with the people important to you, tell them. Explain your feelings to them. This communication can help you both feel better.
5 Ways to Get Closer to Your Mate
For many of us, a spouse, partner or significant other is the most important relationship in our lives. Yet it's easy to grow apart, even when you live together. Here are five tips from the experts for staying close:
1. Listen, With the TV Off.
This is particularly important when your partner is upset. If you listen carefully, you are more likely to understand the problem and find a way to help.
2. Focus on the Positives.
The solution is to make a conscious effort to focus on the things you like about your partner. "Your partner has many good qualities, as well as things that drive you crazy," Brody says. "Look for [the positives] and drink those in. Jot them down to remember them."
3. Stop Nagging.
And remember to balance any criticisms with a heavy dose of positive feedback. When making a request that could be seen as nagging, take the edge off by expressing appreciation for your partner's good qualities.
4. Spend More Time Together.
But don't make the mistake of limiting your interaction to designated couple time. Try to enjoy each other's company for at least a few minutes every day, especially first thing in the morning, at the end of the workday, and right before bed. "At those times talk about positive things," Wachs says. "It makes a big impression."
Make a special point of greeting each other at the end of the workday. If you're home first, stop what you're doing when your partner arrives and spend a moment together. "Act like [he or she] is important," Wachs advises, "not just the postman stopping by with the mail."
5. Touch More Often.
Published February 2006.
SOURCES: WebMD Medical Reference From Healthwise: "Importance of personal relationships for lowering stress." WebMD Feature: "Get Closer to Your Mate in 2006."