In 2021, the relationships that we have are more important than ever, but the circumstances that have led to this also make sustaining healthy relationships more challenging than ever. Due to COVID-19 concerns of spreading illness and harming others, bonding through quality time, traveling together, going to work or school, and even holiday get-togethers are currently not possible.
The potential fall-out of these isolating times is concerning, as studies overwhelmingly indicate that social relationships are beneficial to health. Those with active social lives and engagement have a lower mortality rate, with “risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties (being) more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties .”
Social support is also proven to reduce mortality rates for those struggling with documented medical conditions . Further, people are less at risk for developing medical conditions if they have social support . All of this supports that maintaining healthy relationships is important, not just now but at all times in one’s lifespan.
Healthy Relationships = Open Communication
One of the most effective methods of maintaining healthy relationships is, unsurprisingly, communication. The ability for loved ones to openly and effectively communicate positive and negative, difficult and easy, and comfortable or uncomfortable topics is critically important.
We often practice open and flexible communication with romantic partners in an effort to maintain a connection over time. The same must be done with other relationships in order to sustain healthy relationships through time, distance, and challenges.
Everyone understands that life gets busy and, when this happens, relationships are often the first thing to go on the backburner. Often, this is because of the trust that loved ones will continue to be there once things “calm down.”
A job can be lost, but a friend, parent, sibling, partner, etc., often have more patience, loyalty, and understanding. Even so, what makes life beautiful and joyful are our relationships and the love we experience and spread in our lifetimes.
One can find themselves so stuck in the daily grind that life becomes all work and survival with less of what truly matters. If you feel there is no time for checking-in with loved ones, I encourage you to write out how you spend your next few days. It is likely there is a time where scrolling through social media or watching TV can be replaced with a text message or phone call.
We do these mindless activities because our brains are often fried from the strain of work and daily life, and expending emotional energy feels like it is just too much. However, what most don’t realize is that these activities are often unfulfilling or, even worse, more draining or harmful, whereas speaking with loved ones increases energy, positivity, and resilience.
Do Your Own Work
The quote, “if you don’t heal what hurt you, you will bleed on those that did not cut you” is important to consider in relationships. Humans are blessed to have incredible memory-keeping abilities that help us to survive.
We carry memories of people or circumstances that hurt us into our futures and can use these to avoid being hurt again. Even so, not everyone will hurt you as those in the past did.
You must be careful to heal old relationship wounds, trauma, and pain so that they remain in the past and provide strength and resiliency in your present but do not limit or harm your connection with others in the future. Do not be afraid to face that which wounded you so that you can take the lessons and move forward for yourself and your future loved ones.
Resources Umberson, D., Montez, J. K. (2011). Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published February 15, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on February 15, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC