THE PACE CHRONICLE

Relationships Impact Health

Photo by Peter Drier (Flickr)

Photo by Peter Drier (Flickr)

Kaitlyn Szilagyi, Health & Beauty Editor

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From the time humans are born, individuals depend on others for some aspect of survival. In growing older, individuals gain more and more independence and become more capable of helping themselves, yet relationships persist. The question arises as to how, as people develop and attempt to maintain relationships while attending university or working, these relationships influence their overall health and wellbeing.

In “Perceived Social Relationships and Physical Health Outcomes in Later Life,” Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explains research has “revealed that in general, social isolation and loneliness had health-damaging effects, whereas social support from family and friends had health-protecting effects.”

As for whether or not relationships are beneficial to overall health, sophomore management major Karen Reitan seems to think so.

“The people around me make me relax. I do so much. If I had no one around, I’d probably do so much more, and, like, not sleep and just stop breathing,” Reitan said.

Reitan makes a fair point. Supportive, nurturing relationships can prove relaxing amidst a crazy schedule, providing an opportunity to unwind from the tension and chaos of the day.

However, stressful relationships in which constant conflict or even abuse take place have the potential to negatively impact mental and physical health.

Being in a relationship that is too demanding, which pulls individuals away from their day-to-day responsibilities as well as family responsibilities, can prove harmful in the long-term. Family relationships may then weaken a GPA or employer approval could decrease as individuals spend less time studying and completing work than they do with their significant other.

In terms of physical health, being in a healthy, stable relationship (meaning a relationship where conflict is constructive, partners support one another, and codependency is not an issue) can have a beneficial impact.

In her article, “Do Married People Really Live Longer,” Alexandra Sifferlin provides an explanation.

“Longevity researchers believe it’s tied to the live-in emotional and physical support. When you have someone around all the time, it means you have someone to remind you to take your meds and go to the doctor,” Sifferlin writes.

Sifferlin’s article further makes the point that “Plenty of research shows that whether people are married or not, strong social connections and friendship are especially important factors in healthy aging.”

Of course, other factors such as education and physical activity impact physical and mental health. Relationships are a natural part of life, and while everyone has bad days, relationships have the potential to boost one’s mood, remind individuals to care and look after their own wellbeing as well as that of others, and improve longevity.

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