The Importance of Positive Relationships for Health and Well-Being
Maintaining positive relationships is just as important for your health as healthy eating and exercise. A strong social network can provide physical and emotional health benefits. However, not all relationships are equal. A healthy friendship is a two-way street and requires showing up in times of need. Your network can be made up of anyone who provides positive social support. Learn more about the benefits of positive relationships for your health.
How Social Support Boosts Physical and Emotional Health
Social support can provide numerous benefits for both physical and emotional health. Here are some key findings from research on how strong social ties can benefit well-being:
A Sense of Belonging
Feeling like you belong to a particular group of friends is beneficial, as it fulfills an important emotional health need and helps decrease feelings of depression and hopelessness, according to a study published in Psychiatry.
Belonging to a social group goes hand in hand with increased self-esteem, as people take pride in these relationships and derive meaning from them.
Friendships can help buffer stress as they provide a support system to help individuals cope with difficult periods of life. Physical touch, such as a hug, can also relieve negative emotions like stress.
Research has found that having a large social network offers a protective effect over cognition and reduces the risk of dementia. Furthermore, having someone to have good conversations with may be part of what’s protecting brain health.
Coping with Grief
Social support helps people bounce back from life’s challenges. Individuals who are lonely have more difficulty coping with grief and other traumatic experiences.
Encouragement of Healthy Behaviors
Having positive relationships with people who make healthy choices can motivate individuals to make similarly healthy choices.
Reduced Risk of Health Problems
Staying socially connected to others may lower the risk of long-term health problems, such as heart disease, arthritis, stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Longer Life Expectancy
There is a 50% increased likelihood of survival for individuals with strong social relationships, regardless of age, gender, or medical problems.
A strong social circle is a better predictor of happiness and general wellness than fitness tracker data, according to a study published in PLoS One.