Building healthy relationships
Aimee Gomez & Lindsay Cambell
Recent studies have shown that our interpersonal relationships have a prominent effect on our mental and physical health. There is much speculation that mental health can inadvertently affect physical health, which is why it is important to maintain healthy relationships.
The McMaster Health and Wellness Centre's brochure on healthy relationships describes healthy relationships as having four main qualities: respect, honesty, trust, and communication. These factors help to promote social support as well as preventing social isolation. In a healthy relationship, there is always somebody there to talk to when you need to address issues in your life. You can trust them enough to tell them what you are feeling without being judged. They are there to remind you of your strengths when you feel weak. Essentially, they appreciate you and make you feel good about yourself. They can help to promote and maintain your mental health.
The physical benefits of long-term relationships are evident in marriage. In the September 2003 issue of Health Psychology, researchers found that middle-aged women in good marriages, as opposed to middle-aged women in unsatisfactory marriages or unwed women, were less likely to develop risk factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases. This study was conducted over a 13-year period with a regular number of visits each year to assess a variety of biological and psychosocial characteristics.