Healthy relationships are a vital component of health and wellbeing. There is compelling evidence that strong relationships contribute to a long, healthy, and happy life. Conversely, the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure, and obesity.
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Research shows that healthy relationships can help you:
A review of 148 studies found that people with strong social relationships are 50% less likely to die prematurely.
The support offered by a caring friend can provide a buffer against the effects of stress.
According to research by psychologist Sheldon Cohen, college students who reported having strong relationships were half as likely to catch a common cold when exposed to the virus.
A survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research of 5,000 people found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your wellbeing as a 50% increase in income!
On the other hand, low social support is linked to a number of health consequences, such as:
Loneliness has long been commonly associated with depression, and now research is backing this correlation up: a 2012 study of breast cancer patients found that those with fewer satisfying social connections experienced higher levels of depression, pain, and fatigue.
The authors of the same study also found a correlation between loneliness and immune system dysregulation, meaning that a lack of social connections can increase your chances of becoming sick.
University of Chicago researchers who studied a group of 229 adults over five years found that loneliness could predict higher blood pressure even years later, indicating that the effects of isolation have long-lasting consequences.