The Healing Power of RelationshipsGood health is associated with having meaningful relationships. Loneliness, separation, alienation, and depression are all too common in Western society today. These factors increase when a sense of community begins to disappear.
Positive relationships appear to significantly buffer the ill effects of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease. Results from 8 large-scale studies have revealed that lonely and socially isolated people have a 2 to 3 times higher risk of premature death from heart disease, strokes, cancer and other diseases when compared to those who maintain social networks, family ties, and have a strong sense of community. Those who lived the longest had strong social ties and healthy behaviors.
How we relate to others is a significant determinant of health and illness. We would do well to follow the advice of Paul to "encourage one other and build each other up" (1 Thess 5:11) and "do whatever leads to mutual edification" (Rom 14:19).
Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.
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