In our increasingly digital world, where texting has virtually eliminated the need for conversation, companies can be run over email, and more and more websites and applications keep our eyeballs glued to devices, it's easy to de-prioritize our human relationships. However, disconnecting from people can be bad for your health. Having a strong, nurturing support system has been shown to reduce stress and improve physical and emotional health. And while sleep, diet, exercise habits, and other lifestyle choices are all essential to your well-being, creating strong connections has equally powerful health implications.
Disconnect from Stress
If you’re going through a particularly stressful period, consider leaning on a loved one to help ease your nerves. A 2010 study from the University of Chicago found that people in committed relationships produced less cortisol (the stress hormone) after answering a series of stress-inducing questions. Meaning it’s easier to bounce back from stress when you have a partner.
It makes sense. Overcoming challenges is always more difficult if you’re shouldering the burden alone. On the other hand, a supportive partner can talk through your frustrations with you, and, when necessary, provide a welcome distraction from the stressors.
And if you aren’t in a committed romantic partnership, relationships can help support stress relief in other ways. Even a simple hug releases oxytocin, a hormone that can help release stress. So don’t be afraid to reach out—it could give you an instant mood lift.
Making Love Moves
Spending time with the people we love has the power to remind us of who we are. A sensation that can improve our sense of self-worth, which, in turn, makes us want to take better care of ourselves. And if you generally spend time with a group of friends that values health, there’s a good chance you’ll adopt similar habits.
A Hearty Dose of Love
Being in a loving relationship doesn’t just make your heart flutter and skip a beat. Those in healthy long-term relationships have exhibited lower heart rates and blood pressure than single people. So, don’t be afraid of that heart-racing feeling of being around the one you love—it’s good for you!
Quality, Not Quantity
Studies have shown that those in healthy long-term relationships live longer; however, those in less positive long-term relationships can experience the opposite effect. Be thoughtful about who you include in your network. Make sure your loved ones make you feel good net positive, and if some members of your inner circle are consistently doing things that make you feel bad or hurt, it might be time to reevaluate their place in your life.
So, keep your loved ones close. Call that old friend you've been meaning to catch up with, sit down for a family dinner, or plan a date night and stick with it. Nurturing your connections has the potential to be life-changing.