One of the silver linings of the Coronavirus shutdown for me is that I’ve been able to spend more quality time with my family. Recently, we rediscovered our trampoline which has hardly gotten any use the past few years. My two youngest kids egged me on to jump with them and all I could think about was how it was going to bother my knees or hurt my back.
But instead, we spent an amazing 20 minutes jumping together- laughing hysterically and then having meaningful conversations as we laid on our backs, exhausted and happy.
This has continued night after night and I have to say, my knees and back feel better than they have in years…the same way my connection with my children feels – even stronger than before!
Did you know that our relationships have an impact on our physical health?
Healthy relationships can promote healthy lifestyles and toxic relationships can perpetuate stress, unrest and wreak havoc on the body. Studies at Carnegie Mellon University have found that “social support and belonging can reduce stress, heart disease and improve quality of life.”
It makes sense that stress causes health issues, but scientists have found that this reality goes even deeper! All the way down to your gut health! The results of a 60-year study on the gut microbiome of individuals in Wisconsin was published last year. The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study found that gut health was affected by relationships: spouses, family and friends.
“Social relationships exert a sustained influence on human health and mortality with social isolation having strong negative consequences and high levels of social integration far exceeding the protective effects on mortality of individual level behaviors such as smoking cessation or maintaining a normal weight (Dill-McFarland, K.A., Tang, Z., Kemis, J.H. et al. Sci Rep 9, 703 (2019).”
I mentioned last week that you can take all the best supplements but their impact will be minimal if you don’t make other lifestyle changes. I had to learn that the hard way. Without lasting lifestyle changes, I found that my symptoms creeped back in. The same can be said for the relationships in our lives and whether or not they are healing relationships, or stress-inducing ones. This is especially important for those who have an autoimmune disease or suffer from debilitating digestive issues.
As daunting as dietary changes might seem, relationship changes can seem impossible. Take some time to reflect and journal on the following:
- Make a list of the people you interact with the most—think family, friends, colleagues, an employer.
- As you are evaluating your current relationships and their impact, ask yourself, do they drain you or do they energize you? How do you feel when you’re around them or when you interact with them? How do you feel after? Are you stressed when you think of them? Do they bring your joy, encourage you, and support you?
- Recognizing the reality of each of your relationships is the first step to making positive changes. Thinking of the positive relationships in your life, what can you do to strengthen them? How can you have a deeper connection with those you love?
- Do you have any toxic relationships? What makes them so? Can they be healed? If not, it may be time to let them go for the sake of your health.
Now, take some time to reflect on your current social life and the connections you have. Connection is imperative to human health. As we all try to stay connected to those we love during this pandemic, how can you connect with your loved ones when we can't "physically" connect with a hug, dinners, etc.? It definitely involves getting creative. Have you tried a Zoom family game night? Do you Facetime? What is working? Who do you miss and how can you connect with them?
Be sure to make time to connect, even if it’s from afar! After all...THIS is what life's about. What else do we have if we don't have those we love...who support us, uplift us, and fill us up? It is so important to make time to nurture those relationships...our health depends on it.
If I can be a support to you during these strange times, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If you’re ready to feel better once and for all, schedule your free Telehealth consultation here to see if what I do works for you! You’ll gain me as your partner and coach…someone who’s been where you are and who knows they can help.
The Unfortunate Expert