The purpose of February’s National Wellness Month is to encourage people to establish and build on social relationships, given that they are essential to a sense of human well-being and overall wellness. Study after study has found that humans thrive on interaction and that individuals who lack such relationships are generally in poorer health, both emotionally and physically. That need for human companionship stays with us right into our senior years, and they become perhaps even more critical to seniors.
Many seniors who tend to be withdrawn and isolated develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Humans are meant to interact with each other and form social ties, and if that doesn’t happen, a major component of the human makeup gets stifled and buried. This can have some serious impacts on a person’s emotional health, and that in turn can trigger a deterioration of physical wellness as well. In this discussion, we’ll consider some of the ways that healthy social relationships can improve your all-around state of health.
Whenever a person goes through a major surgery or is obliged to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, it helps immensely to have a partner afterward who can be there to support you in your recovery. It might be just little things like reminding you to take medications, or just having companionship that takes your mind off illness. In any case, having someone there to support you can make all the difference.
A number of studies have shown that individuals who have undergone heart surgery are three times likelier to survive the first three months of post-surgery when they have a partner helping them. As opposed to those who have no significant other to return to, these surgery patients tend to recover much faster and more fully. Someone who has a life partner will almost always feel more confident about their ability to handle the sometimes rigorous requirements of recovery.
Sense of purpose
Most people like to feel as though they’re contributing to society in some way, or doing something that is helpful to others. When you have a partner and you’re in a loving relationship, it can provide a sense of purpose to an individual and contribute to their own sense of well-being. Some studies have suggested that having a greater sense of purpose will increase your longevity, and actually provide you with more quality years than you might otherwise have had.
More healthy behaviors
People who are involved in a healthy relationship with another person generally have adopted healthier lifestyles. This is especially true if your significant other has maintained a healthy diet, regular exercise program, and avoids unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking. When you are associated with an individual like this, it tends to influence your own behaviors, and you are more likely to adopt that same kind of lifestyle. It’s always easier to assume a healthy lifestyle when the people you associate with have already chosen that same kind of healthy lifestyle for themselves.
Lower stress levels
Scientists have been able to demonstrate that people who are involved in healthy relationships tend to produce less cortisol, which is a hormone closely associated with stress levels in the human body. From this, it can be assumed that people in relationships are less subject to psychological stress and that emotional support from a loving partner can serve as a very effective insulator against stress.
A considerable body of evidence compiled through research shows that couples in a loving relationship are generally happier and more content than those who are not. It can be a huge boost to your mental health to know that you’re loved and supported by someone, even if they’re not physically present on any particular occasion.
Research has shown that having strong social ties, particularly a loving relationship, can have a huge impact on a person’s longevity. Of course, everyone is unique and has their own personal desires and needs in a relationship. People also deal with stress differently, and most people try to live a purposeful life. If you choose to deal with those issues by living alone, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up sick and unhealthy. However, having at least one close relationship could have a major impact on your mental and physical health. If you have someone in the world you can trust completely, that can help get you through times of real anxiety or depression, and it can contribute a great deal toward your overall state of wellness. There’s no question that having one or more healthy relationships in your life can contribute to your state of well-being and thus add years to your life.