We all have multiple relationships in our lives. Between family, friends, coworkers, and partners, most of us have many relationships to juggle. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Finding meaning in relationships is a great way to feel happy and fulfilled. Humans are designed to crave connection with one another. However, relationships can also cause quite a bit of stress. Both positive and negative relationships can have a profound effect on both our physical and mental health. Let’s take a closer look at how relationships effect our health and what to do when things turn negative.

Positive Relationships

Being in a positive, healthy relationship is good for your overall health. You will be more stable mentally and physically. Those who are in good relationships tend to have less health problems and live longer. Positive relationships do not just have to be between romantic partners, either. Quality relationships with parents, siblings, friends and coworkers all positively affect your health. If you are an introvert, don’t worry. You do not need to have 100 close friends. Three or four close relationships is enough for a person to feel loved, find purpose and reap the benefits of positive relationships.

Positive relationships should not be considered unnecessary. Research has shown that having close, quality relationships is just as important as avoiding smoking, alcohol and exercise. Quality relationships reduce stress and help us feel more secure in the world. This allows us the freedom to explore more and take on new challenges. This means that making your relationship a top priority is okay. Stepping away from a stressful work project or pulling out of social commitment to work on a valuable relationship is just as important as hitting the gym and eating a healthy diet. You are protecting your relationship and your health.

Toxic Relationships

A toxic relationship is more than just an annoyance or potential drama. It can have very real physical consequences for those involved. If your partner, coworker, or family member is constantly negative and belittling you, then your chances of developing heart disease, gastrointestinal conditions and respiratory problems increase. You also have a much higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.

It can be difficult to identify if you are in a toxic relationship because we so often want to make a relationship work. However, if you find that you are constantly drained and worried about how the other person will react to your feelings and actions, then you are probably in a toxic relationship. You can also tell if your relationship is toxic if they continually try to change you and you constantly feel like you cannot live up to their standards.

Ending a toxic relationship is difficult. It may seem easier to suffer than to break up with a partner or cause a stir at work. And if your toxic relationship is with a parent, then distancing yourself can have big consequences across the whole family. However, for your own good, it is important to try and repair or end the relationship. If your partner is not abusive, then you can try talking to them about how their actions and words affect you. If that does not work, then it is best to end the relationship. If your partner is abusive, then contact a professional who can help you work through the situation. Leaving an abusive relationship can be tricky, so having back up is especially important.

Being Lonely

So, what do you do if you do not have any meaningful relationships? You may not have close friends or family members. What if you work from home or are self-employed? Being lonely can be almost as devastating as being in a toxic relationship. Lonely people are more likely to develop depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to make poor decisions involving alcohol, drugs, and money.

Finding connections with others takes time and it can be intimidating. If you are struggling to find friends, then join a group, preferably offline, that shares a similar interest with you. This can be anything from running to knitting to gaming. Making connections through the internet is not necessarily a bad thing, but having relationships with people in real life is the best possible solution. They can be there for you in difficult times and nothing can replace having coffee or getting dinner with a good friend.

Relationships are an important part of our lives. They not only effect how we feel, but they also affect our physical and mental health. It is important to take the time to cultivate our relationships with close friends, family members and coworkers. These relationships give us a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment. We also are less prone to anxiety and depression when in quality relationships. Negative relationships can have the opposite effect and can have a huge impact on our health. Leaving a negative relationship can be difficult, but it is for the best. Your mental and physical health depends on it.