Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships and a Healthy You

The support of family and friends can help you stay healthy.

By Sylvia Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It's been said that no man (or woman, for that matter) is an island. And it's true: good relationships are essential to our happiness and emotional health. Our relationships can affect our physical health as well.

Indeed, one thing researchers know for sure is that our ability to feel love and intimacy is what keeps us well. Study after study has shown that loneliness is a risk factor for disease, and that relationships have a positive effect on everything from heart health to age-related health issues.

Nurture Your Relationships

It's not always easy to keep friendships and family connections strong when you're busy with work, children, and other demands on your time. Here are some tips for keeping those relationships healthy even in tough times:

  • Visit with friends and family. Simple, but important. Take time to make a phone call, send an email, or write a quick note.
  • Make new friends. Establishing new contacts with people who have similar lifestyles can help you feel that someone understands your daily challenges.
  • If you feel too exhausted to talk to or relate with the people important to you, tell them. Explain your feelings to them. This communication can help you both feel better.

5 Ways to Get Closer to Your Mate

For many of us, a spouse, partner or significant other is the most important relationship in our lives. Yet it's easy to grow apart, even when you live together. Here are five tips from the experts for staying close:

1. Listen, With the TV Off.

The experts agree on this point -- listening, truly listening, can reduce conflict, boost trust, and lead to a more satisfying partnership. Listening may sound simple, but it requires more than being in the same room while your better half is speaking. Signal that you care by turning off the television, offering your undivided attention, and making eye contact. And don't forget to follow up on what you hear.

This is particularly important when your partner is upset. If you listen carefully, you are more likely to understand the problem and find a way to help.

2. Focus on the Positives.

"When you first meet someone, you pay attention to all the things you like," says Kate Wachs, PhD, a Chicago psychologist and author of Relationships for Dummies. "As time goes on, you start to take that for granted and instead you focus on what bothers you. If the relationship becomes more negative than positive, you break up."

The solution is to make a conscious effort to focus on the things you like about your partner. "Your partner has many good qualities, as well as things that drive you crazy," Brody says. "Look for [the positives] and drink those in. Jot them down to remember them."

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