Why Your Personal Relationships Are So Important
By Lee Shi Yun (Serena)
If you were asked to recall the best moment in your life so far, chances are, it involved other people.
As humans, the bonds we form with other people play an important role in our daily lives. We are inherently social beings, where we desire to connect and build relationships with others. Reliable and supportive relationships with our friends, family, and partners provide a sense of comfort and closeness. Therefore, good personal relationships are fundamental to one’s happiness and general well-being.
Unfortunately, amidst our busy schedules (where we may place ‘hanging out with friends’ at the bottom of our to-do lists), we sometimes fail to leave adequate time to develop and maintain these social ties.
Here are 3 reasons why your personal relationships are important:
Good personal relationships make you physically healthier
Research shows that having healthy, good-quality relationships can increase longevity and improve physical health. A study in Brigham Young University in the year 2010 found that strong social relationships can increase the likelihood of survival by 50%. It is also said that personal relationships affect our physical health from a biological level, through immune function and stress hormone regulation.
Another study in Ohio State University also emphasized that endocrine function and nervous system activity are affected by the quality of close family relationships. This was further explained that due to the link between neurochemical pathways and relationships, good quality relationships reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, infections, and even cancer.
Your social circle influences the way you think and act
The people you surround yourself with, coupled with their attitude and lifestyle behaviours, may inadvertently rub off you. A Duke University study found that people who struggle with self-control would seek help from others with higher self-control and self-discipline to resist temptations.
*makes mental note for the next urge to splurge on online shopping*
It also helps you take on healthy behaviours when you are surrounded by people who do the same. Although trivial, their influence can affect your eating habits, exercise, and how you spend your time and money.
There is also something called the Michelangelo effect, where you ‘sculpt’ one another to bring out the best in each other. This is based on the logic that if someone believes something about you, they can elicit these qualities and behaviours from you.
Healthy social relationships increase the quality of life and wellbeing
Relationship expert Sheehan D. Fisher, PhD, a psychologist in Northwestern Medicine explained that a healthy relationship between two people who can help, support and encourage each other emotionally can positively impact their mental wellbeing. As the quality of relationships affects the psychosocial aspect of our lives, damaged or broken social relationships may increase the risk of depression. Recent studies have also reported that negative social relationships, especially among spouses or romantic partners, may be related to anxiety and suicidal ideation.
Stress is also closely linked to personal relationships, where social and emotional support from others can buffer against stress. It is extremely helpful to surround yourself with people who are wise, excellent listeners, and those who are willing to lend a helping hand.
To produce wellbeing, It is not sufficient to merely have a relationship. Perhaps we are all too familiar with the instances of awful relationships, like friends who backstab each other, Cinderella and her step-sisters, ‘frenemies’, toxic family members … you know what I mean.
To have better well-being and more happiness, it is important to maintain good relationships with others. Seems like a daunting task? Fret not, here are some tips on how you can form healthy relationships with others:
- Leave your judgment at the door and listen
- Make time for each other
- Communicate openly
- Trust and respect each other
- Pay attention and remember things about each other
- Put your ego aside and apologize when you are wrong
- Show appreciation for each other
Everyone has different preferences and needs when it comes to their social relationships while navigating the stresses of daily life. Not everybody is a social butterfly, but forming a few close relationships may be beneficial and worthwhile to your mental and physical health.
Ultimately, do not forget self-care.
Just as how you cannot pour from an empty cup, it might be challenging to build relationships with others if your relationship with yourself needs mending. Remember, you (and everyone else) deserve healthy relationships that spark joy, provide nourishment and promote personal growth!
Written by: Lee Shi Yun (Serena)
Serena has always liked to see the world in a positive light, despite all the adversities life has to offer. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a slice of cake while watching a feel-good movie on Netflix. During stressful times, she winds down by immersing herself in the sights and sounds of nature.