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Healthy Relationships

Building a care team is like creating a wonderful meal - you need the best ingredients possible, a plan or recipe, the proper tools to cook with, and people around you to share the feasts of your efforts.  Let's look at some ingredients for maintaining health and well-being for you and your family: friends, doctors/health care providers, pharmacists, family and informational resources.  Staying healthy is an individual endeavor that loves company! All humans have a natural need for friends, and for good reason.  Friends can help increase enjoyment of life.  The presence of friends can ward off feelings of loneliness, depression and low moods.  People who have plenty of friends often have more outlets for talking about or reducing stress, anxiety and fears. And increasingly, researchers are finding that the emotional support derived from friends, colleagues, spouses and others can be powerful medicine. Women seem to know intuitively.  They routinely help each other through life's up's and downs - the birth of a child, serious illness, special life events such as graduations or weddings, and difficulties such as surgery, divorce or death of a loved one.  Women seek out friends and spouses because they know how much better they feel when they're connected. As we said, studies also have found that healthy relationships have a positive impact  on health in general.  Solid relationships, for example lower the risk of heart disease and depression, and having a solid partnership can me it easier for one person to stick to a healthy diet, exercise program or a commitment to quit smoking. The question is....WHY? Scientists have long understood that when we're under stress, our bodies produce hormones known to suppress immune response and raise blood pressure.  We've seen that those with emotional and social support from friends and loved ones have more functional immune systems, lower blood pressure, and a brain that reacts less to stressors. The study also noted that participants who had strong social ties 80% more likely to live longer than their peers with no social ties. Groups. such as the non-profit Wellness Community, provide support to people nationwide fighting to survive cancer.  Such groups have shown that involvment in a support group - even an online support group via computer - enjoy a healthier outlook and improved mental health benefits compared to people who try to brave diseases on their own. So...embrace life with good friends and a loving partner. Do what you can to bolster the friendships and social networks that provide the safety net in your life.

  1. Make friends a habit. Schedule regular events with friends and stick to the schedule.
  2. Use technology to connect with friends as well, including e-mail, chat groups, instant messaging and the like.
  3. Try something traditional. Send a greeting care with a hand-written message, write a letter to a friend or keep a journal for yourself.  Here's a fun suggestion for journaling..share your journal with a special friend.  You keep it for a week and reflect on your feelings and thoughts, and let your friend do the same for the next week. Imagine the memories you'll create.
  4. Consider unique ways to spend time together, such as a day trip or special outing.
  5. Initiate support for yourself.  Make your house or apartment the gathering spot for friends, family and loved ones.

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