By Georgianna Donadio, PhD – If you want your health to be strong, your relationships have to be strong.
A report in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch notes that research supports the benefits of relationships for overall well-being and longevity. The newsletter notes that “dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. [A] lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality.”
A study of more than 309,000 people demonstrates that folks who lack satisfying relationships with family, friends and community experience an increased risk of premature death from all causes of 50 percent. While this alone is an amazing statistic, the same study shows that you face greater threat to your mortality from social isolation than from a lack of exercise, obesity or even smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day.
Having enjoyable, fulfilling companionship with others reduces stress levels and keeps cortisol (a stress hormone) under control. If cortisol rises, it can adversely impact insulin function, suppress the immune system, clog the arteries and wreck digestion.
Watch Out For Negativity
Other studies demonstrate that women in their 40s who endure difficult or negative marital-type relationships experience a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than women with fulfilling relationships.
A Swedish study of people 75 years and older shows that dementia risk is lowest for people who maintain satisfying relationships and have a large group of friends and family they enjoyed.
The foundation of all relationships is good communication. Most people are unaware of how their lack of communication skills adversely affect the quality of their relationships.
Working to improve your health and your communication skills may be easier than you imagine. It requires only desire and a few simple, proven steps to make a big change in the quality of your interactions. You can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.
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