Like a good idea blossoming into a great way of life, the self-care movement has grown in recent years, with people making a concerted effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mindset. After all, when it comes to personal wellness, it’s all connected. But one very important piece of the personal wellness puzzle is often overlooked: positive relationships. And that’s a shame because fostering strong, positive relationships can sometimes mean the difference between a healthy and happy person enjoying life and a healthy but unhappy person sitting at home feeling sad.
Don’t be the healthy but unhappy person sitting at home feeling sad!
The Importance of Positive Relationships
While a large percentage of Americans practice self-care and accept the notion that physical and mental wellness go hand in hand, few realize that strengthening their relationships is an important part of the equation. But it is. In 2018, a U.S. Cigna study revealed that 43% of Americans sometimes or all the time feel that their relationships are not meaningful. The study also found that the number of individuals without a close friend had increased in recent years. But—much like dogs, penguins, and Pokemon—humans are social animals. We crave social interaction. And when we don’t have others to turn to, our physical wellbeing takes a beating.
In fact, research from the University of Cambridge has found that maintaining healthy positive relationships is two times more beneficial to our health than exercise alone. In addition, those with stronger relationships have a 50% increased chance of living longer than those with weaker, unfulfilling relationships.
Maintaining strong positive relationships, both of the romantic- or platonic variety, have proven to greatly benefit both our mental and physical health. As humans, we need these close relationships. And when we have them, both our moods and physical health flourish.
Beware the Perils of Social Media!
Whether you’re all about keeping up on current events or keen on what your high school class is up to, social media is a great tool for staying connected and informed, and nothing in this article is meant to suggest that you should give up Twitter or Facebook. However! Because of social media, many may believe that those tweets, posts, and messages count towards having strong personal relationships. However, many reports have actually found that social media may not only devalue our relationships, but it may also lead to depressive moods—which can ultimately lower our physical health. And of course, there are the pitfalls of “phubbing,” which can really eat into your relationship happiness. If you want to strengthen your relationships, many experts recommend avoiding too much time on social media, calling your friends instead of texting them and dedicating more time to spend with those you care about.
The bottom line: social media is great, but when it comes to maintaining relationship happiness, there are some perils.
A Piece of the Personal Wellness Puzzle
When we think about personal wellness and bettering our health, we don’t often associate our friendships and romances as a contributor to our overall health. But maintaining stronger, meaningful relationships can be just as important—or even more so—than other wellness practices such as exercising and eating healthy.
At the end of the day, being in great shape and maintaining a healthy diet will boost your mood and physical wellbeing. However, we also need love, support, and positive outlets in our relationships in order to live satisfying and rewarding lives. If you are thinking of joining the self-care movement or are already part of it, consider working towards strengthening your relationships. Your wellbeing and physical wellness will thank you for it!