Why Healthy Relationships With Family & Friends Are Essential For Self Care
Self-Care is a buzzword that’s popping up more and more, but like all buzzwords, its overuse leads to a certain lack of clarity as to what it actually is.
Standing in stark opposition to behaviours that are selfish to the detriment of others, Self Care is actually about ensuring the best version of yourself; physically, emotionally and spiritually, so that you can be a pillar for those you care about too.
Self Care can be defined as anything, from eating healthier foods, to taking long baths when you’re stressed, putting yourself in a positive environment, getting out into the sunshine and generally taking good care of yourself; but it's also about fostering healthy relationships with loved ones.
Healthy relationships are not necessarily defined by just being around family and friends.
It's about how you 'show up' around those who are important to you.
As the old adage goes, we often hurt the people we love most — so we need to be mindful that our own Self Care can have a ripple effect on how we contribute to our closest relationships as well.
A healthy relationship means one where each person feels supported, connected, and is getting what they need from that relationship.
If your relationships ever make you feel stressed or unhappy, you could be sabotaging your Self Care and even shortening your lifespan. Spending time with friends and family should be a form of Self Care, but if any of those relationship are toxic, they can cause more harm than good for everyone involved on many different levels.
So what are the hallmarks of a healthy relationship with family and friends. Here are the main foundations worthy of your attention to keep you and your loved ones connected, fulfilled and happy.
Provide a Support System
Life isn’t always a smooth road, and it’s during the bumpy times that even the strongest relationships are truly tested.
By fostering healthy relationships throughout your life, you’ll find that you'll have a solid support system in place, for whenever challenges appear, to see you through.
You may fall sick, lose your job, or be faced with some type of emotional trauma, and if you've done your bit to give support, you'll ensure that you receive support when it matters most.
A support system means people that can help listen to you vent, provide helpful advice, and go out of their way to make sure you get back on track.
These relationships are crucial, because without them, you could be much more susceptible to loneliness and depression and be unable to lift yourself out of it.
Even without them having to do anything, your relationships with family and friends can impact your overall outlook on life, which is incredibly important, and when it really comes down to it, are every bit as important as eating well, exercising and following your passion.
Boost Happiness & Reduce Stress
There’s no doubt about it: nurturing healthy relationships makes you happier.
Toxic relationships bring you down, but healthy relationships help you become the best version of yourself. You’ll notice reduced stress and more personal satisfaction in life, all from cultivating strong, mutually beneficial relationships with family and friends.
If you have a stressful job or home life, just a few hours with friends can completely ease your mind and reset your outlook. This release is an important form of self-care, because you’re allowing yourself mental space from your problems, which can often help solve many of the problems themselves (or at least give you a much-needed break from them).
Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Surrounding yourself with positive relationships won’t just make you happier, but it will also encourage you to lead a healthier lifestyle because you'll feel good about yourself.
Healthy relationships flourish when everyone involved in them is healthy, both mentally and physically. It’s hard to be a good friend, family member, or partner when you’re not in a great place, so when you’re surrounded by healthy relationships, you’re more likely to emulate the habits and lifestyles of those around you.
Eating nourishing food, exercising, meditating, finding things you’re passionate about—these are all healthy lifestyle habits that come naturally when you surround yourself with positive, happy people that are also doing these things.
Increase Sense of Belonging
There’s a reason belonging is listed among Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Having a sense of belonging and purpose is incredibly important for your mental health, but it’s hard to achieve without healthy relationships first.
Feeling like you belong can only come from finding a group of likeminded people who share your interests and views, and this sense of community makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
It gives you purpose and joy, and these are both essential for self-care, since they’re part of your wellbeing. So surround yourself with people who share your interests and ideals. Finding your tribe is an essential part of living your most nourished life.
Teach Self Worth
Healthy relationships with your friends and family help create a mirror that reflects back to you your own self-worth and value.
Fostering these relationships takes time and effort, but it creates something immensely positive that adds so much value to your life. Included in those benefits is the fact that healthy relationships with others help teach you how to treat yourself better.
Seeing others respect you, care for you, and treat you well trains you to be better at self-care and to listen to and follow your own needs. After all, when you have people who you care for treating you well because they value you, it’s hard not to value yourself as well.
Reduce Negative Influences
Having unhealthy relationships with the people closest to you is a true drain on your valuable energy and emotions. In today’s day and age where we’re all fighting against the clock, your time is precious and spending it on those who don’t bring anything to your life is the opposite of self-care, especially if they actively bring you down.
Toxic relationships can be catalysts for destructive behaviours that lead to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and more, and it can all stem from letting someone play on your emotions. Nurturing healthy relationships helps drive away these toxic influences, because they help show you how beneficial and helpful positive relationships can be instead.
Tips to Improve Unhealthy Relationships:
- Make time for your family and friends, and make sure it’s quality time
- Be present and truly listen to what they have to say
- Show gratitude and recognition as often as possible
- Reserve judgement but be honest with your family and friends, your opinion matters
- Be accountable for the part you've played in any conflict and do your bit to heal it up
- Let go of toxic relationships that can’t be salvaged and that are affecting your wellbeing
Learn more in How to Heal Toxic Relationships Before They Break.
Self Care is the very foundation of a healthy, happy life on every different level and the quality of your relationships are at the top of the food chain.
The benefit healthy relationships can have on your life can’t be under-estimated; in fact, they can add years to your life. From reducing your stress to bringing you joy, giving you a community and encouraging a healthier lifestyle, friends and family can transform your life for both better and worse.
Tolman Self Care.