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A Deep Dive into Healthy Social Relationships

What exactly defines a healthy social relationship?

The first key aspect has to do with social integration. Social integration can be looked at as an individual's overall degree of informal relationships with others such as their significant other, or a formal relationship one has with a religious organization or community such as a gym. Think of this as whether or not an individual has an informal or formal relationship with others. Although one may have these relationships, the quality of these relationships also play a role in the overall health of their social relationships. The quality of relationships can be looked at as the positive OR negative aspects of a relationship. These aspects can range from undo stress placed upon an individual by their significant other or their friends. As well as the presence OR lack of emotional support by these individuals. These various relationships can be further broken down into how strong the relationship is as well as the type of relationship . This is known as social networks and can be thought of as the individuals or groups that one surrounds themself with.

Understanding what a healthy social relationship is of great importance. However, understanding the negative consequences that result from NOT having strong social relationships or social relationships at all is far more important. It has been demonstrated throughout the literature of social sciences that the lack of social relationships or social involvement can leave individuals at a higher risk of mortality than those who have stronger social relationships and involvement with others. It has also been shown that individuals who lack these strong social ties and relationships have a lower quality of life, increased risk of having cardiovascular disease, cancer and or slowed cancer recovery, autonomic immune disorders, higher blood pressure, and even a slowed immune response to physical injury. To understand this above piece better, one must also take into consideration the health habits of the social networks they are a part of. It has been shown that social habits are heavily influenced by the social networks one is a part of.

For example, if an individual surrounds themselves with a social network of individuals who smoke cigarettes, constantly eat out, and consume drugs or alcohol. That individual is more likely to follow suit with those individuals to maintain their place in the social network while undermining their own health. It is not to say that individuals can not or do not have free will to make their own decisions, such as their own health habits. However, it is to say that the social relationship one creates does largely impact the overall quality of their physical, mental, nutritional, social, and financial health.

The first step to changing a maladaptive pattern such as a social relationship or lack thereof is to understand that the current pattern is maladaptive. Once you have bridged this cap of acceptance you must reach out for help. If you feel as if you need help with strengthening your social relationship, please do not hesitate to connect with a health coach. This can be as easy as google searching local health coaches or going on and hiring a qualified health coach that is dedicated to helping you improve your overall quality of life!


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