There is no doubt that managing our stress, moving our bodies, fueling them with nutritious food and getting enough sleep are mission critical in the realm of preventative health.
But today I want to add one more thing to the mix, and that is healthy connections. According to the American Psychological Association, it’s long been known that “relationships have the power to influence physical and mental health, for better or worse”.
It’s the type of thing we know in our hearts to be true. When we nourish our relationships, we nourish our souls.
Not only that, but we enjoy the many benefits of healthy relationships, like reduced stress, improved ability of our bodies to heal, healthier behaviors like eating healthy and exercising, feeling better about ourselves, and maybe even living longer.
So what can we do to give our relationships the fuel they need to thrive?
- Add a dash of SUGAR ** Treat people with respect and kindness **
I know I know … it’s just common sense, but it all starts here. When we treat people with kindness and respect, they feel valued and important to us, and are more likely to treat us that way as well.
- Remember to say please and thank you.
- Consider how you greet the important people in your life. Do they feel welcome and wanted?
- Are you speaking from a place of love or a place of fear/shame/judgment?
2. Add a generous scoop of ‘THYME’! ** Shared positive experiences, however small, MATTER**
Call me crazy, but I think it’s important to surround ourselves with people we actually like, respect, and want to spend time with. Build shared experiences regardless of how small they might seem. Shared experiences help us:
- build special memories that will strengthen our bonds, and help us through the more challenging times in life . For example, during Covid, we were fortunate to have the whole family still home. We started watching the Marvel episodes each week with themed dinner nights. It was an accidental tradition that we all cherish!
- remind us of why we chose that relationship in the first place
- and yes, I know … there are some relationships we haven’t ‘chosen’ (maybe the co-worker or in-law that you struggle with), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it
3. Add some NUTS! ** Have FUN together and LAUGH daily**
According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter provides many benefits including relieving stress, increasing release of endorphins (those feel good chemicals in your body), relieving pain, and improving mood - just to name a few. When we laugh together, we’re building shared positive experiences . . . more on that in #3
In a calm, relaxed, feel good state, we show up as better people for our partners and other important connections in our lives.
4. SPICE it up every once in a while! ** Use your imagination on this one 😉 **
Ever feel like your relationship is in a rut? And that could be ANY relationship, one with your romantic partner, your kids, your friends, your family … It’s ok to change things up every once in a while.
With Covid, perhaps some distance has crept up with your friends. Why not arrange for a girls’ night out, or a weekend hike, or a movie night
With your family, try a game night, a movie night, build a snowman, get some ice cream - it doesn’t have to be big, just fun!
With your romantic partner, put on that sexy outfit you’ve been wanting to wear, plan a romantic picnic in your living room, stargaze in the backyard, go out dancing, greet your spouse at the door with a long soulful kiss and some flowers, use your imagination, this is a g-rated platform!
5. Add a BANANA phone ** Communication is key nutrient for our relationships **
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking ‘he/she should know how I feel, what I’m thinking”. I’m not sure if knowing would make life easier or harder!
Since most of us cannot read minds, it really is important to actually tell each other, with honesty and respectfulness, how we are feeling and what we need.
And be sure to be curious about the other person, to ask clarifying questions like ‘do you mean ….” so that person feels heard and understood, something we all want and need.
A wise person once told me that communication is a game of tennis, not catch. To me that means it’s a back and forth dance of leading and following, asking and answering questions, making and receiving suggestions, of acceptance, negotiation and of course of actual dancing and fun!
Relationships that are not nurtured, will not survive long term, not happily anyways. So take some time today to nourish our relationships!