The pursuit of sound health in a holistic way needless to say is the dream of every Homo sapiens. Daily we are bombarded from all angles with the need to live healthy and the practical steps to take to walk in that path.
There is the daily call to eat right, exercise regularly, sleep well, and manage stress levels. As good as all these are and I must admit you cannot achieve total wellness if you neglect any, one area that I feel is not given adequate attention is the impact of relationships on our health.
It is a known fact that life is a web of relationships. Right from conception, a child’s first human connection is established without any input from the child – the unborn child already has relationships waiting to connect with that will shape the early years of his/her life – Parents, Uncles, Aunties, Grandparents, Cousins, Nieces, Nephews e.t.c.
The child has no control of the choice of who his/her Parents, Brothers, Sisters are.. Without any written manual, as the child grows, principles of life are imbibed on how to relate with such people, whether the principles are right or wrong will only be known in later years.
As the child develops, other webs of relationship enter into his life.– Starting from Pre-school, the child starts meeting with other children, teachers etc. The setting is totally different from home as it is more structured and organized. Principles guiding such relationships will also be learnt directly or indirectly.
From school to bigger network of relationships in the employment world and it even becomes bigger as the child now an adult starts his own family and his own generation start their own circle again.
Life as a network of relationships impacts us in ways far beyond words. Just as good relationships can impact us positively and help us to succeed in life, bad relationships can impact us negatively and cause damage not only to the mind but also to the body.
It is said that the quality of your relationships will ultimately affect the quality of your life and health.
There are proven links through numerous researches to show that good and satisfying relationships not only make us happy, but are associated with better health by lowering rates of anxiety and depression and higher self-esteem. It has also been reported that unhealthy relationships can turn into a toxic internal environment that can lead to stress, depression, anxiety and medical problems.
There are so many varied promotional health calls to promote healthy eating and move away from consumption of fast foods or junk foods that the impact of unhealthy relationships on health is downplayed. What is sometimes overlooked is that relationships can be just as toxic to health as fast or junk foods are. Just as unhealthy eating can cause damage to the body physiologically, so also unhealthy relationships.
Researchers have discovered that people in negative relationships were at a greater risk of developing heart problems, including a fatal cardiac event than people who were not in a negative relationship.
It becomes imperative to monitor and guard the impact the relationships in your world are having on you. Toxic or unhealthy relationships can occur in many forms – toxic friendships, toxic parent/child relationship, toxic co-workers, toxic partners, to name just a few. There are some life relationships that are difficult to walk away from as no relationship is blissful and conflict-free all the time, but the ones that consistently promote toxicity need to be confronted and if unable to eliminate, develop strategies to manage its negative impact on you.
One key test to know whether a relationship is healthy or not is to examine the fruit it produces and its impact on your life given purpose.
For example a man called Abraham called for separation between himself and his family member because there being together was producing continuous conflict and strife. I really like what he said in Genesis 13: 8 – “Let’s not have fighting between us, between your shepherds and my shepherds. After all, we’re family” They still maintained their family connection but with limited association because the fruits their association was producing were unhealthy.
Any relationship that consistently produces ill-will, strife, discord, anger, and seems to promote bitterness, hatred and un-forgiveness no matter how close will ultimately affect your health not only emotionally but also physically. Negative emotions produce chemicals in the body that promote toxicity and hence affect your body negatively.
To enjoy all round health, surround yourself with relationships that promote health.