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How Relationships Affect Your Health?

Dr. Aafia Malik

2 min read

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No man is an island—and this statement holds even truer when one realizes the impact relationships have on one’s health. Psychiatrists firmly suggest that human beings do poorly when isolated and need to be a part of a community to thrive. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle is such that we are moving farther away from our families and communities, despite the advent in technology which allows us to bridge distances.

Be it for work or due to relocation to another place, we are distancing ourselves from people that are important for our mental and emotional well-being. The consequence is that we lose our support network and become lonely.

How can being lonely affect your health?

There is a difference in being alone and being lonely. Even if you are physically away from your family and friends, you could reach out, socialize and make new friends. In doing so, you would be avoiding so many physical stresses that your body would endure otherwise.

People who are lonely tend to face a myriad of health issues—especially chronic illnesses and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular risks associated with loneliness include: higher heart rates, increased rate of atherosclerosis in blood vessels, high blood pressure, and high rate of inflammation. They also have increased incidence of stress, insomnia, depression and an overall poor quality of life.

Loneliness has a great negative impact on health, since it affects the sleep cycle and the heart. As a result, lonely people deal a lot with mental issues, stress, cardiovascular issues, depression and even infectious diseases as their immunity decreases.

How can having relationships affect health?

In contrast, having a social network or familial support, improves the function of endocrine organs (which release hormones), improves mental health and has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. Relationships in your life also increase longevity and there is decreased morbidity and mortality among people who are socially sound. Social support is therefore a great predictor of survival rate.

The reason why being social could be so important is not completely understood. It is likely linked to the fact that venting out with friends and family could potentially decrease the effect of chronic stress. The feeling of contentment that family brings can also positively impact mental health and thus reduce stress.

How to make relations to positively impact health?

Despite our busy schedules, we should try to make time for important relations in our life—be they friends or family. The modern lifestyle is pretty isolated; we should try to step out of our comfort zone to make new friends and seek more “positive” relations in our lives.

  • Take a class: If you want to feel connected with like-minded people, then try a skill learning class. Take up a knitting class, or a pottery class or a painting class. It would be easier to connect with people you are learning a skill with.
  • Volunteer: You could even volunteer for a cause you feel strongly for. Not only would it help you build strong positive relations, it would also help improve your self-esteem, bring you great satisfaction and happiness.
  • Get a pet: Having a pet can also alleviate the feeling of loneliness. Pets can bring you positive energy, and help lower anxiety levels. It doesn’t have to be a large or furry animal, even a goldfish in a bowl can provide relaxation.

Quality relationships matter for our emotional and mental health just as much as getting a routine check-up for your physical health. If, however, you find that are off your mental health game, be sure to consult a psychiatrist.

You can find and book an appointment with a top psychiatrist in Multan, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Aafia Malik - Author Dr. Aafia Malik is a Psychiatrist. She has a M.B.B.S and F.C.P.S degree along with an experience of 8 years. She is also a member of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). Dr. Aafia Malik practices as a Psychiatrist at Psych Intellects and Online Video Consultation and charges 3000 and 3000 respectively. Dr. Aafia Malik is also offering online video consultation and you can book an online doctor video consultation with her by pressing the red video consultation button.
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