World Health Day: 3 Ways Relationships Can Cultivate a Better Mental State

Oftentimes, the best way to cultivate a better mental state for yourself is to do something for or with your friends or family. Understanding the importance of social connection in your life is linked to a healthier, longer life.  So what can you do to develop and nurture lasting friendships? Not only does it mean you’re not getting lost in your own negative thoughts or anxious state, you’ll also be adding value to the social support structures around you. We thought, on World Health Day, we’d create a three step list of positive things you can do right now to help and connect with someone else - and yourself! Here are 3 ways you can cultivate a better mental state this World Health Day and this year

1. Call that friend you’ve been meaning to…

Friendships can help you through good times and bad times.  Take a few minutes this week to reach out to a few friends and set up a time for a few phone calls this week.  Each month try to schedule a call with a good friend - or better yet make a plan to connect in person. Whether it’s a friend from school or your life partner, pencil in some time for your significant other!  These small connections can give you perspective, brighten your mood, help you sort through an issue or just give you a good laugh. 

Don’t forget your friend might be the one in the relationship who needs support right now! The most valuable support you can provide is just being there to talk and listen. Making time to call, text, visit or invite someone over can make a big difference.  There are positive reciprocal effects of taking turns being the supportive friend and the friend in need.  Learn to appreciate both roles in your friendship. Relationships can be difficult to maintain over time but the good thing is that quality is more important than quantity in friendship.  Meaningful relationships are investments that take time and effort but the return is invaluable.

2. Schedule a friend date…

While technology is a fantastic way to connect to those loved ones far away, we are missing some in person connections.  Our in person relationships have been altered over the last decade by the convenience of technology. Whether it is something to help a friend or just something for fun, research supports your friend date! A Washington Post article shares that research backs up the benefits of good friendships and good health! “In a 2010 meta-analysis that combined data on more than 308,000 people across 148 studies, for example, researchers found a strong connection between social relationships and life span. The size of the effect rivaled that of better-known health-related behaviors such as smoking and exercise.” This is a great reason to schedule a fun activity with your friends or family this week! Does a friend need help in the garden, or organizing their pantry? Is there a card game you haven’t played together in ages? Put it on your schedule for this week.

3. Be a community member…

Trying new groups and activities helps you grow and stay strong both physically and mentally.  It is also a great way to meet new friends and connect with old ones.  Being a community member can teach you new things and challenge you. Join a new physical class like yoga or dance, or a club like chess or birdwatching.  You could also take a class in art or language! 

Giving back can be a social event as well.  Giving inspires those around us and creates a chain reaction of positivity. Just one act of generosity can inspire enough people to really make a difference. If your children and friends see you engaging in charitable acts, they may develop a more giving mindset and also engage in acts of giving.  Is there a better way to strengthen your relationships than bonding over supporting a shared cause? We can accomplish so much more with more helping hands and hearts!

Additionally, online communities such as ours can be a great support to cultivate better mental health.  Check in with the other Type-2 Diabetics in our FB group.  In our community we share and discuss healthy living and controlling and treating diabetes and heart disease.  We support each other every day.  You can join our free diabetes support group by clocking here: Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together.

Reminder - Show yourself some love!

We have heard it before that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself - isn’t stress the same? Taking care of yourself and your stress levels will empower you to continue living your most healthy life, so that you can continue to support those around you. 

Best stress busters:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a balanced healthy diet
  • Being creative
  • Helping others and giving back helps reduce your own stress

Piedmont Health says, “Having good friends and a strong social support network can relieve stress. One study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that people who discussed difficult times in their lives had a lower pulse and blood pressure when they had a friend by their side.”  By connecting to others in these three ways and showing yourself some love - you’ll be on the right track to lessen your anxiety and improve your overall health this World Health Day!