With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking about how important my relationship with my mom and other family members really is in my life. Without them, I wouldn’t lead the same life I lead today. It seems like we often talk about exercise and nutrition when it comes to wellness. When in reality, there are so many additional components, like strong, positive relationships, that lead to a full-filled, truly “well” life.
When you think about it, healthy relationships, whether they are with family or friends, are a vital component of health and wellbeing. The interesting thing is, there is actually evidence that shows this. Strong relationships promote a long, healthy, and happy life. And, on the flip side, there are quite a few health risks from being alone or feeling isolated. These risks are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure, and obesity! Let’s dive in…
Healthy Relationships Can Help You…
A review of 148 studies found that people with strong, social relationships are 50% less likely to die prematurely. And, some research also suggests that committing to a life partner can add 3 years to your life.
Deal with Stress
You probably don’t need me to tell you that the support of one of your friends can help you through a stressful time. In a study of over 100 people, researchers found that people who completed a stressful task experienced a faster recovery when they were simply reminded of those people they have a strong relationship with. Those who thought of stressful relationships, though, experienced even more stress and higher blood pressure. Remember, in times of stress, just thinking of your loved ones can help!
In one study, researchers found that college students who reported having “strong relationships” were half as likely to catch a common cold when exposed to the virus. Wow…that’s pretty cool! Another poll found that people who feel they have friends and family to count on are generally more satisfied with their personal health than people who feel isolated.
If you feel like you didn’t save enough for retirement, this next study suggests to get more friends! A survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research of 5,000 people found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your wellbeing as a 50% increase in income!
Health Consequences of Loneliness and Isolation
It makes sense that loneliness can contribute to depression, and there is even research to back it. A 2012 study of breast cancer patients found that those with fewer satisfying social connections experienced higher levels of depression, pain, and fatigue.
Decreased Immune Function
The authors of that 2012 study also found a correlation between loneliness and immune system dysregulation. This shows that a lack of social connections can increase your chances of becoming sick.
Higher Blood Pressure
Researchers from the University of Chicago studied a group of 229 adults over the course of five years. They found that loneliness could predict higher blood pressure even years later. This indicates that the effects of isolation have long-lasting consequences.
After studying the topic for decades, two psychiatrists, Jacquline Olds and Richard Schwartz, confirm that the research is clear and devastating: isolation is fatal.
The results are in…in order for all of us to stay healthy and live our best lives, we must do it TOGETHER! To my mom and all the other moms out there, thank you for all you do to create such strong, meaningful relationships in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day and enjoying connecting with your family this weekend.
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!