Valentine’s Day is a day of giving gifts and expressing our affection for our loved ones. Social relationships and support are beginning to be understood to be key to our health. They are as important to our health as the food we eat.
Relationships impact our mental and emotional health, which affects overall health and well-being. With depression and anxiety rising worldwide, these mental health issues may increase the risk for physical disorders, especially heart disease. Our bodies experience distress when we are stressed due to hormone imbalances. These imbalances may make it more difficult to choose to eat healthier foods, refrain from drinking alcohol excessively, smoking, or even inappropriate drug use. Imbalances in our body may even make it difficult for us to obtain a restful night’s sleep.
Some people may deal with mental health issues by isolating themselves. People are becoming more Isolated because of the rise of social media like Facebook. Loneliness, how you define it, increases inflammation in the body, which leads to further health issues. In fact, the UK has instituted programs to help people feel more connected to help increase their wellness. This intervention saves the government money in health care costs.
There are ways to improve social connection for better emotional and physical health.
Face-to-face interactions with family, friends, and loved ones is important. Social media has its place, but it should not be a replacement for face-to-face conversations. Even small micro-conversations with strangers, like the barista at the coffee shop, or the cashier at the grocery store, can help make you feel more socially connected.
Surround yourself with people who live healthier lifestyles. The habits of your friends greatly influence your habits. Our health habits may account up to 40% of our health. People who engage in eating well, or moving often, offer you a supportive environment.
Practice gratitude and compassion. People who think positively about their relationships may experience a more positive health outcome. Research has shown that a four-step practice of sitting quietly each day to send compassion and loving-kindness to yourself, to a loved one, to a difficult person in your life, and to our earth and all its creatures, large and small, increases positive emotions.
This Valentine’s Day, give yourself and others the gift of connection.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment. For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com.