Why relationships are key for wellbeing

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For this month’s blog we are exploring the value of relationships for our wellbeing.

Humans are known to be a gregarious species and we need social interaction to thrive. You may already know that social interaction is crucial for mental wellbeing, but did you know it’s important for physical health too?

Incredibly, a recent large-scale study showed that prolonged isolation and loneliness have equivalent health consequences to smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

“When we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old, it was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

Robert Waldinger, speaking about the Harvard study of Adult Development, which started in 1938 and is still running.

The below information is taken from one of our Wellbeing Digital Learning solutions. Can we help you support the mental wellbeing of your team? Get in touch for more info - we love a chat!

Valuing Your Relationships

Good relationships are important because they:

  • Help to build your self worth and sense of belonging
  • Help you to feel valued and accepted
  • Provide emotional and physical support in times of need
  • Allow you to share life experiences
  • Allow you to support others

The importance of relationships doesn’t only apply to close friends and family; the same is true of work colleagues, neighbours, and members of the local community. Think of these relationships as the cornerstones of your life and invest time developing them.

Strengthening Your Relationships

There are many ways you can develop and strengthen your existing relationships, such as:

  • Take time each day to spend with your family, such as eating breakfast or dinner together
  • Make the effort to arrange meet ups with friends
  • Don’t let relationships fade away, make time to check in on friends you haven’t seen for a while
  • Invest in quality time with your nearest and dearest (put down your phone and really listen!)
  • Arrange to eat lunch or go for an after-work drink with a work colleague
  • If your friends and family live far away, then make use of video calling to connect with them more deeply than a voice call. However, for local relationships try not to rely on technology too much

Building New Relationships

If you feel you don’t have many relationships in your life, then it’s always worth making the effort to make some new ones. Consider:

  • Joining a sports club/team
  • Join a walking group
  • Join a gym or start a new exercise class
  • Think about your hobbies/interests and see if there are any clubs/groups you can join such as a foreign language class
  • Take your dog to a busy local walking spot
  • Support a good cause or campaign you feel strongly about; you’ll likely meet likeminded people
  • Join a professional networking group
  • Join a religious group or cultural club
  • Getting in touch with a local or national loneliness charity
  • The internet is your friend here – social media, dating sites, forums – these are all great ways to connect with others (just remember to stay safe when arranging meet ups)

Helping others

Supporting others is a wonderful way to enrich relationships and improve your own self-worth.

Could you:

  • Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
  • Volunteer at a local school, charity or community group
  • Think about people in your wider network – do you know anyone who may be feeling lonely? What could you do to support them?

We hope you can take time to cherish some of your most important relationships over the festive break. We’ll be closing the office between Christmas and New Year so the team can recharge and spend quality time with their loved ones.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Team PEMCO x