It might seem odd to even wonder why relationships with others, especially healthy relationships are important. In today’s technology-driven society, though, it seems that many people communicate on social media more than they do with friends and family members. But positive, healthy relationships may have a major impact on not only your mental health and wellbeing, but your physical health as well.
It’s All About Quality – Not Quantity
Having strong, positive connections with other people can support your mental and physical health. But the number of connections doesn’t correlate to improved wellbeing – it’s the quality of those connections that counts the most. Having positive relationships may provide you with a sense of purpose. Toxic relationships on the other hand can negatively affect your mental and physical health.1
Can A Lack Of Friendships Lead To Loneliness?
A lack of quality friendships and other strong social connections is a major problem in the United States. According to one study, as many as 43 percent of people over the age of 60 experience loneliness on a regular basis.2 Loneliness has been linked to poor physical health and reduced satisfaction with quality of life.3
How Much Is Technology To Blame For Declining Relationships?
Some research indicates that technology could have something to do with the fact that people, on average, have fewer relationships. In fact, according to one study, the size of the average person’s network of relationships has shrunk by about 30 percent since 1985.4
It appears that smartphone and Internet use have contributed to the trend. Technology is pulling people from the traditional avenues where relationships are built. These include neighbors, volunteer associations, public spaces and social settings.
People who use the Internet, according to the study, are nearly 40 percent less likely to exclusively discuss a confidential matter with their partner. Those who are regular text messengers are even less likely – 59 percent less likely to be exact.5
Why Good Relationships With Family And Friends Are Important To Your Overall Health
Researchers have found that relationships and health are linked by neurochemical pathways. These pathways have a profound effect on physical health, impacting the nervous system, immune system, and more. Studies show that positive family relationships, for example, affect the production of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.”6
Research also indicates that strong social bonds play a role in supporting the production of another hormone known as oxytocin.7 This hormone helps to lower cortisol levels as well as blood pressure.8
Having Problems Maintaining Positive Relationships? A Mental Health Professional May Be Able To Help
There are some instances where a person can find it very difficult to maintain any sort of positive relationship.
Whether you are having problems with your partner, maintaining friendships, or anything else, a professional may be able to help. People suffering from issues such as a loss of trust, anger, or even fear can often benefit by speaking with an expert.
Professionals will often talk to those who are suffering from relationship issues, and help them express their true feelings. Clients will, in many instances, discover emotions they didn’t even realize they were experiencing. As a result, they are able to connect in ways they might not have thought were possible, helping to support their mental health in the process.9
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