The Underrated Key to Well-being: Building Strong Relationships

Feb 24, 2024 | Blog, The Tarry Life

With everything going on in my life – juggling family responsibilities, work, school, and day-to-day demands, I feel like I’m in a relentless rush. I want to just stop and take a minute to breathe! For me, one of the first things to go out the window amid this whirlwind of obligations, is my relationships with friends. Where’s my Tarry Life? I know it’s vital to both maintain and cultivate strong relationships. It isn’t just a social nicety, but a fundamental cornerstone of mental and emotional health. 

The Science Behind Social Connections

The link between social relationships and health has been the subject of numerous studies, like the one from from Brigham Young University found that both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality! According to the report, a lack of strong relationships increases the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day! This startling statistic underscores the importance of connections.

I just had a girls weekend with some of my high school pals and I can feel how the deep conversations and belly laughs we had that weekend affected my health positively. I felt connected to people I love. I believe it’s the quality of social connections in our lives that significantly impact our longevity and overall health.

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Connectedness

Social connections offer more than longevity; they provide critical support for our mental and emotional health. Strong relationships lead to increased feelings of belonging, purpose, and happiness, reduced levels of stress, and improved self-esteem and empathy.

  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Social support helps in managing stress. Talking with friends or family about your worries or seeking advice can reduce anxiety and buffer the impact of stress.
  • Enhanced Self-Esteem: Positive interactions with others can reinforce a sense of self-worth and belonging.
  • Emotional Support: In times of trouble, having someone to lean on can provide emotional comfort and practical help.

How To Foster Meaningful Connections

  1. Prioritize Relationships: In our busy schedules, make time for friends and family. It can be as simple as a weekly phone call, a text, or a coffee date. 
  2. Join Groups with Common Interests: Whether it’s a fitness class (Pilates!), a book club, or a volunteer group, connecting with people who share your interests can lead to meaningful relationships.
  3. Be Open and Vulnerable: Authenticity breeds deeper connections. I’m very lucky to have friends and family who have no qualms about keeping it real and going deep. No thank you, small talk.
  4. Practice Active Listening: Being a good listener is just as important as sharing. Actively listening and getting curious about others is the first step to building trust and understanding.

Something holding you back?

There are plenty of reasons why it’s hard to get or stay connected:

  • Dealing with Social Anxiety: For those of us who find socializing challenging, start small. I know my myself – I’m not great in big groups. I much prefer one-on-one interactions like a coffee or lunch date instead of a party or big group dinner. That’s okay!
  • Busy Schedules: We can use digital tools and apps to stay connected. A Zoom call or a group chat can keep the bond strong, even when you can’t meet in person. I do this with my cousins every couple months and it’s fun. Try exchanging voice texts with friends to catch up or to let them know you’re thinking of them. These small connections can make a world of difference in your day.
  • Geographical Distance: In our digital age, distance doesn’t have to be a barrier. Schedule regular video calls, online activities, or simply send a video note through apps like Marco Polo.

A Balanced Approach to Wellbeing

While personal achievements and physical health are essential, the power of human connection in nurturing our well-being is undeniable. I’m going to take my own advice and remember to cultivate and cherish my relationships. They are not just a source of joy but a foundation for my healthy, fulfilling life. 

Let’s continue to reach out, connect, and grow together. Do it as if your life depends on it because according to studies, it does. 

Let’s Be Friends