Building Positive Relationships

By Sally Evans

One of the most critical aspects of our lives is relationships. We still, as human beings, tend to forget just how crucial our connection with other people is and their effect on our emotional wellbeing.

So, how do great relationships help us?

Just as our physical health needs effort and attention, our emotional health also requires regular care too. This means thinking long and hard about what we should do to build strong emotional health, because when we take care of our emotional and mental health, we tend to handle stress more effectively, recover from the stresses of life more quickly, and even experience better sleep. Research has also shown us that people who are in supportive relationships live healthier lives.

There is now so much evidence that suggests when we are focusing on building positive relationships, we also tend to heal more quickly from physical illnesses (who knew!) and on average have lower blood pressure and are surprise, surprise, less likely to suffer from depression and are less prone to anxiety.

But what else does building positive relationships do for us?

Well, our peers, including friends and family, may encourage positive habits as we often take our lead from those closest to us. Ideally, if they are focused on developing a healthy diet, a work-life balance, and regular exercise, then you may be too. Studies also show that conversations with an empathetic listener will help in relieving stress and processing negative emotions. Having activities with friends will increase your energy while releasing tension too. But having real relationships does not mean acquiring friends over social media! Nothing compares to real face-to-face talks and an exchange of smiles. Some recent studies are showing that excessive social media use may even trigger symptoms of depression. This can be linked to a number of causes, but feelings of jealousy or feeling inadequate, may not be far from the surface when you are idly scrolling on a Saturday evening!

So, how do we build better relationships?

Building positive relationships is not an overnight process and is something that we all have to work on, all of the time, especially as we are all so busy. It takes effort to keep in touch and reach out to friends but remember that this is a two-way road, and we have to be there for people in times of need if we want them to do the same.

Maybe it’s a good time to review the quality of the relationships we do have? Relationships that are unhealthy can become a stressor or even a trigger for poor emotional health and increased levels of anxiety. You may not even realise the impact your poor relationship is having? It seems obvious, but it really is essential to build relationships with people who encourage healthy behaviours and provide support, both physically and emotionally.

Ideas for building positive relationships in 2020: 

So, how to go about it and what do we mean by ‘positive relationships’? This isn’t about playing rescuer to someone in your friendship group or family that is always moaning or being a victim about life. But it is about searching out people you enjoy spending time with; who buoy you up; who leave you feeling energized, instead of depleted when you see them. This may mean making some new friends in 2020!

Try some of these tips: -

- Maybe getting in contact with your old peers and friends that you might have lost contact with?

- Joining a volunteer group or society that interests you and fostering relationships with people of common interests. Once you have identified someone you would like to spend more time with, ask them for a coffee.

- In your free time, consider volunteering and build relationships with people of shared values 

The important tip is to not try to limit your contacts to your existing peer group of family and current friends. You may never know, but you might even find meaningful relationships and fantastic support from colleagues, neighbours, and other people in your community, who you just haven’t met or chatted to yet. So, go on, make 2020 the year of building new relationships!


Sally is the Founder of LifeBuddy. She is an Organisational Development consultant and is a Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology.