How Good Relationships Benefit Health

How Good Relationships Benefit Health

What makes a relationship beneficial is the attunement between people who care about each other.  In a healthy secure connection, two people are able to hear from each other and recognize their needs, and listen so that person feels understood, and can make sense of their inner world.

Likewise, when a person feels supported by a healthy relationship, there is a sense of safety.  There is great security in knowing it is okay to share deeper needs, one’s self-doubts and concerns, without fear that the person you’re confiding in will shame you or make you feel bad for appearing weak (vulnerable?) or needing support.

Healthy relationships foster health (well-being?) because they help keep fear and anxiety in a more manageable or regulated emotional state.  Unresolved distress, or emotional dysregulation, activates the fight-flight response. The long-term flood of stress hormones dampens the immune system and even our ability to think and learn – especially during childhood.

Healthy relationships bring compassion to that relationship space, which helps us regulate our emotions, calm our primal alarm systems and promote longer periods of health.

In healthy relationships, people learn that they can safely manage worries, fears, hopes, and dreams.  This capacity builds intimacy, closeness, and a sense of security that has a far-reaching impact.

Learning To Build Healthy Relationships

Does this mean that people with poor-quality relationships are doomed to poor health? Not at all. It is never too late to begin to have a good relationship in your life.

So much of the work of therapy is about learning to have a relationship that helps build and teach safety, trusting a trustworthy or safe (reliable?) person, and learning to share your inner world and ask for help.  Healthy connections in therapy allow us to learn that relationships can be safe!

Therapy provides just this safe relationship. The therapist works on building rapport, that sense of safety for attunement to take place. In good therapy, people learn they are able to build a relationship where they have a voice, and that their voice is heard.

Because I get to see this amazing journey happen for my clients, I can assure you that we can learn to love and form healthy connections as adults, even if we have struggled for a long time without them.

It is Never Too Late to Begin

Even if the world did not seem like a safe place as a child, you can change that today.  You can be in charge of adding safe relationships to your life and allowing them to be your path to health now!

Healthy bonds enable us to calm the anxiety and fight-flight responses that are the legacy of trauma.  When we have a relationship that is a safe haven, it means we do not need to face our fears alone – we can turn to each other for shared support, strength and joy.

It takes time to learn how to open up to others so that healthy relationships can form, but it can be done. You can build secure, safe attachments later at any time in your life. It’s never too late to begin.

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