When it comes to health and wellness, relationships may seem completely unrelated.
At least that was the case with me until recently. Of course, my relations with family, friends, and peers are priceless to me, but I failed to make the connection of how relationships influence my overall wellness.
I admit it’s quite sad and frankly embarrassing it took me, someone who has spent the last five years studying wellness at a university level, so long to understand this association but I suppose late is better than never.
Many of you have made this connection ages ago and are probably rolling your eyes, but for those who are like me, a little slow at times comprehending the obvious, I will explain.
To understand how our relations with others affect our health we must first understand wellness. Individual wellness is composed of several different components.
Although there could be several additional factors depending on the individual, I prefer to break wellness down into the following categories:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Functional fitness and flexibility
- Muscular strength and endurance
- Individual and family recreation
- Nutrition and healthy weight
- Governing the stress of life
- Avoiding addictive behaviors
Optimal wellness is achieved when there is an ideal balance of and satisfaction with these factors.
These categories are specific but each is important in determining our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This is largely because of the mind-body connection. You cannot separate the body from the mind or the mind from the body.
What we do physically, going for a run, eating, and sleeping affect our minds and emotions. Our emotions produce a physiological response that can impact our bodies for better or worse. Our minds are incredibly powerful, but I will save that rant for another post.
Relationships and Wellness: What’s The Connection?
Looking at the list it seems clear how most of these factors affect our health. We know that fitness in all its forms is essential and what we eat greatly matters. It is fairly common knowledge that negative stress should be avoided as well as any kind of addiction, but how do relationships fit in?
A better question would be how do relationships NOT fit in? We are influenced by the people we associate with every day from the types of activities we participate
We are influenced by the people we associate with every day from the types of activities we participate in, to the food we consume.
Relationships can bring us overwhelming joy and a sense of security or devastating sorrow and loneliness. Those we spend time with can impact our motivation, our confidence, and our perceptions. In short, we become like the people we spend the most time with.We become like the people we spend the most time with. Click To Tweet
Why do interactions with others affect us so deeply?
We as humans are meant to connect with another; it is in our chemical makeup. Oxytocin is one of the most incredible substances our body produces. Acting as both a hormone and neurotransmitter, oxytocin produces a sense of trust, friendship, and love.
Every time you do something kind for someone, give a hug, or offer a kiss, oxytocin levels rise creating a type of social bonding and support.
Because oxytocin reduces stress and generates feelings of well-being, it is vital that we as individuals develop as well as maintain healthy relationships.
I’m no relationship expert (quite the opposite) but in my experience happiness comes not from a high quantity of relationships, but from building high-quality relationships. How do we accomplish this?
I believe Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it perfectly, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”