Better Relationships for Better Health

Better Relationships for Better Health

We enter relationships for many reasons — to feel loved, to fill a void, to have a ready-made best friend when we need one the most. But we rarely consider how our relationships might affect our health. Your romantic relationships are a major predictor of well-being. In fact, the wrong relationship can easily destroy your health, while the right relationship can help you adopt a slate of healthy choices. Of course, this doesn't mean you can blame your partner for all that ails you. It does, though, mean that healthy living may begin with getting your personal life under control.

1. Changes in mental health

If you want good mental health, it begins with a good relationship. One recent study found that people with anxiety disorders saw a reduction in their symptoms simply by being in a happy relationship. Happily married people are less likely to be depressed, and suicide is much more common among single people. On the flip side, of course, an abusive or harmful relationship can depress you, lower your self-esteem, and even lead to trauma-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

2. Stress and life management

The right romantic partner can help you get your stress under control and life on track. People in happy relationships consistently report higher levels of satisfaction and lower levels of stress than single people or those in unhappy relationships. And one recent study found that people whose romantic partners supported their health goals – such as weight loss or getting more exercise – were much more likely to stick to those endeavors.

3. Cardiovascular issues

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer, outpacing cancer, accidents, and chronic disease. Want better cardiovascular health? Then get a better relationship. People in happy marriages are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Researchers aren't sure why exactly this is, but some evidence points to the stress-eliminating benefits of a happy relationship. If you're not lonely or perpetually entrenched in a fight with your significant other, your stress levels may be lower, thereby also reducing your risk of heart problems.

4. Chronic illness

Chronic illness can lead to almost unending misery. From ongoing pain to the difficulties of taking daily medication, no one wants to live out his or her life chronically ill. And if you have a good relationship, your odds of experiencing such an illness are dramatically lower. Healthy relationships encourage people to make choices – such as exercising and eating right – that reduce their risk of certain chronic illnesses. Among people who already struggle with chronic illness, those in happy relationships report that their symptoms are less severe than those in unhappy relationships. 

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