If we want good mental health, do relationships matter?

Updated: Feb 12, 2020


In a time of Brexit, when we've left our old lover behind for the new pastures of singledom, I'm wondering, when it comes to our own mental health, do relationships really matter?


I've found that having deep meaningful relationships is crucial to my physical and mental health and my overall well-being.


But why???

Whether it's family, friends, your tribe, your work colleagues, your community, being connected means you are happier, physically healthier and more importantly you live longer.

When you don't have those close relationships studies have shown you feel lonely and isolated, leading to a dissatisfaction with life, poor physical health, more likely to have sadness, anxiety and depression and a higher rate of mortality.

If you are in a toxic or unhealthy relationship its more likely to affect all your other relationships as well. In fact studies have shown it's actually worse to be in a toxic relationship than having no relationship at all.


How do you define your close, trusted relationships?

We have an evolving family structures, we are working longer and longer hours, we move more readily, our communication relies heavily on technology, so how do you recognise the importance of good relationships, how do you develop and maintain them in this everchanging world?


Despite our tendency to move to an online world, over half of internet users in the UK say that they have not increased their contact with family and friends and in fact feel more disconnected from them than before.


Online relationships in themselves bring new problems such as trolling, online bullying, so new skills are needed to build these new online relationships.

We all know that time in our lives when we are discovering new relationships, maybe through university or work and we find our partners and start to build a family life. Our Prince Charming arrived and carried us off on his charger, to have that fairy tale life.

The truth is, that sometimes, the fairy tale doesn't work out, relationships breakdown, divorce, poor work life balance, redundancy, debt, recession, austerity, children leave home, bereavement and retirement. Life turns out not be a fairy tale, but a nightmare tale!

All these moments in time, are high stress factors, having those close, stable relationships are often the one thing that keep us going. You need to stop wishing you could spend more time with friends and start doing it. Do you know that having a friend, who is happy and lives close by, can increase your happiness by 25%! That's a big dose of happiness!

As we get older, the risk of isolation and loneliness becomes our greatest risk, not only to our happiness but also our life itself. Often those over 65, having to deal with retirement, bereavement and long term health conditions find it difficult to leave the house. They become isolated which has an impact on their happiness, physical and mental health.


So given that relationships of all kinds, are so important to our life, I ask the question, what changes are you going to make today?


The Mental Health Foundation have issued a public challenge, to go the extra mile in prioritising your relationships.


Here's what they suggest you do:-


Give time: put more time aside to connect with friends and family.

Be present: it can be tempting to check your phone, Facebook messages or even work emails when with family and friends. Try to be present in the moment and be there for your loved ones, switch out of work mode whenever possible.

Listen: actively listen to what others are saying in a non-judgemental way and concentrate on their needs in that moment.

Be listened to: share how you are feeling, honestly, allow yourself to be listened to and supported.

Recognise unhealthy relationships: being around positive people can make us happier; however, our wellbeing can be negatively affected by harmful relationships, leaving us unhappy.


My favourite piece of wisdom is that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most. Who do you hang out with? Are they a trusted, positive relationship? Or not?


After suffering with depression, anxiety and sadness, for me, all my relationships in my life, are vital. I'm more than happy to go the extra mile, because I know the difference they make.


Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If this post has made you think and you would like to make a change, then contact me and we can have a free 30-minute chat about how I can help find success in your life by 121 executive coaching. Finding the power within to change is what I say, why not do it today.

About the Author Elizabeth Pickering is an Executive Resilience coach, who helps people find success, focus and balance in their life. I take them from feeling overworked, overwhelmed, stuck and stressed to feeling energised, empowered and falling in love with life again.Working with sole traders, business owners and entrepreneurs, I keep them on track towards their goals, giving them energy, focus, motivation and the freedom to enjoy their life.

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