The Importance of Strong Relationships

I hope you all enjoyed a happy Easter. I had a fantastic day enjoying the spring weather and appreciating the reason for the day with my family. Getting away from school and work obligations to focus on more important things, as well as having time to spend with my family is what inspired my post today, the importance of family and friends and their impact on the stress and peace in our lives.

According to Psychology Today, those in strong relationships, as opposed to those who are isolated and lacking social support, have a 50% lower risk of mortality. I always knew that those who have healthy relationships are likely healthier in general, but 50% is a big percentage, and clearly not something to ignore.

Even an 80-year-old will experience lowered blood pressure if his 100-year-old mother is there to hold his hand. Now, obviously, there are exceptions in terms of abuse-but even the most severely abused children still take some comfort from their abusive parents. That’s one reason abuse can be so damaging: it can actually wire in a response in which abuse is associated with stress relief. – Maia Szalavitz

It is incredibly important to try and build healthy relationships and to nurture the ones we have. Our mental health and general well-being is closely knit with the relationships we maintain.This has been a concern for me as I near graduation.

I, quite honestly, am terrified of what is going to happen to my social life and relationships when I graduate. It has taken me a while to build the relationships I have in college. While some of those relationships are too strong to assume I will lose them, I have to face the fact that many of the friends I’ve gained will fade to simple memories, as that tends to be the way the world works.

This stress of wondering what will happen to those friendships, and how I will earn new ones, has been a prominent concern lately. So what am I going to do about this, and what do I challenge you to do? Make an effort.

Despite the fact that many friendships and relationships happen just by chance, this isn’t something we should expect to happen whenever we need it to. We should go out and do things, introduce ourselves to people we relate to. For example, I’ve always wanted to join a writer’s group so that I could talk at length to people about things others in my life find boring, such as story arcs and character development. Yes, it takes time and effort to build strong relationships out of nothing, but the work is worth it. We owe it to ourselves to go out and make that effort to find those who will contribute positively to our lives and to whom we can hopefully have a positive impact as well.

As for those who are already in our lives, we shouldn’t take them for granted. If we are so lucky as to have a supportive and loving family, and/or friends who act as family,  we should not treat them as “a given.” They deserve our making an effort. Yes, they will mess up at some point and yes, we will mess up at some point. However, family and strong friendships do their best to be forgiving and to overcome difficulties together. That is where true love and support grows.

So when I graduate, I’m not going to lay on my bed watching Netflix and bemoaning the fact that I don’t see my friends as much anymore and that I don’t know anyone wherever I may be living or working. I will go and try to find and build new relationships, even if it’s hard and takes a while. And for the relationships I do have, I will protect them and work like hell to not only keep them, but help them grow stronger.

One of my best friends moved three states away when we were in middle school. It was tragic and upsetting for everyone. She had been my friend for my whole life. Instead of just giving up on our friendship, we called each other, wrote letters, and IM’d when that was still cool. In college, we were still friends, even if we both had grown a bit apart. However, sophomore year of college, she transferred to Purdue University, and we picked up where we’d left off. Good friendships are worth as much effort as you can give them. Did we think we’d ever live in the same state again? No. But it never occurred to us to just lose touch and give up on our friendship. Yet, for some reason, I’m not sure that would be true if that situation had occurred when we were older.

I feel that we are currently living in a less permanent culture. This can be a great thing, but it can also be damaging. A lot of people on campus tend to cut ties when they graduate and leave. It’s considered “moving on” and just “what you do,” and honestly, until I remembered how long my friend and I had lived that far away from each other, and still remained friends, I was swept along with this way of thinking. But it’s wrong. Knowing when to let go is one thing, but every good relationship in our lives is worth work and nurture, even when its survival seems impossible.

 

 

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