Why Relationships Are Important

Why Relationships Are Important

Whether you struggle with anxiety, anger, stress, perfectionism, depression, or anything in between, there is hope.  Developing more healthy relationships, or transforming current relationships into more healthy and positive ones, is a big piece of the healing process. This oftentimes means fighting the feeling of loneliness and I won’t pretend that it’s easy. It’s not. In fact, it’s really hard at times. Creating or maintaining healthy relationships in our society today has become more difficult than saying no to Girl Scout cookies. We are constantly being dragged from one thing to the next with little to no time to develop relationships. In order to make relationships work, they need quite a bit of time and effort. In order for them to get time and effort, most of us need to know that they are going to pay out. Is the time spent investing in relationships able to produce a high return on investment?

Relationships and Your Physical Health

The proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study suggesting the number and quality of social relationships a person has impacts their health just as much as diet and exercise. Having less quality relationships has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and other serious health concerns across different parts of a person’s lifespan. The mortality rate for older adults significantly increases the less a person is socially connected, and the risk for obesity among adolescents significantly increases the less they are socially connected.

The physical response to being less connected to people is burdensome. Not only can it decrease your lifespan, but it can also affect your quality of life.

Relationships and Your Mental Health

Not only is a lack of relationships bad for your physical heath, but loneliness has a negative impact on your mental health as well. Loneliness has been linked to depression and increases a person’s risk of committing suicide. Loneliness can also increase stress and decrease motivation which can make it incredibly difficult to cope with everyday stressors and accomplish tasks.

Living life without meaningful relationships is hard. It becomes more difficult to deal with the hard times and enjoy the good ones.

If there is one thing worth adding to the top of your to-do list, connecting with people should be that thing. Make sure to invest time in people that are important to you and possibly even creating new relationships. If you notice that most of the things you set aside time for throughout the week are tasks related to work or running errands, and you end most weeks feeling stressed out and empty, then commit to taking some time to nurture and build relationships. That could be taking your spouse on a date, or going out with friends. Regardless of how you do it, make an effort to connect. If loneliness is something that you struggle with often and don’t see a way out, then reach out to a professional for help.

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Dealing With Your Anger (Part Two)

Despite the fact that anger can be destructive, it can also be a useful and a healthy emotion when expressed appropriately. Anger is a signal that you have a need that hasn’t been met. Anger has been used in healthy ways to motivate people to change themselves and the world.

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Without lashing out and hurting others, anger can be a central piece in motivating people to make life-changing decisions for themselves and others. One example is the feeling that comes from experiencing social injustice. When a particular group or class of people is being treated poorly based on things such as their race or socioeconomic status, it is useful for anger to motivate a response to the injustice. This doesn’t mean saying hurtful things or physically harming others. Rather, it means speaking up for what is true and right and pushing for change. This motivation and action accompanied with an audience that is ready to listen and respond provide a space to be understood and cared for by others.

Since anger itself isn’t a bad emotion and instead is a healthy and useful one, what is next? Knowing that anger can be destructive on the one hand and useful on the other only gets us so far.

Getting control over the anger throttle, for those of us who struggle with its overwhelming forces at times, is the next step in harnessing its usefulness. Here are some useful tips for dealing with anger’s strong and powerful grip:

Be On Guard

Be on alert for anger’s warning signs. This comes from understanding what your body’s usual response is to anger. Pay attention to whether or not you feel that burning sensation in your chest, ball in your throat, or the tensing of your arms or hands. If you are attempting to be alert regarding when anger is about to show up, it gives you the advantage to prepare and respond appropriately.

 

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STOP!

Once you realize it is coming or is already here, stop! If you are in a heated argument with your significant other, then table the discussion if you can or walk away and take a minute to return. This is especially important early on when you are trying to gain control of your anger. Continuing to fight or argue has the potential to leave you spinning your wheels without gaining any traction. The more you leave your wheels spinning, the more your tread wears down leaving you unable to move forward.

 

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Breathe

This is one of the most important steps. To put the brakes on your anger, you need to breathe. If you do not activate your parasympathetic nervous system, by breathing, it is like trying to fight a war with a Swiss Army Knife. Pulling out those small scissors won’t get you very far here. There are several different structures for parasympathetic breathing, but one that I have found to work is to start inhaling and begin to count to 4 slowly. Once you get to 4, start to exhale and begin to count to 4 again. After you finish, start the process over again until you begin to notice your body relax and your anger level significantly drop. Respond. Now that you have executed steps 1 through 3 you are ready to respond to whatever made you angry. You should now have the ability to think clearly and respond with a better and more thoughtful response. The boss who was angry at his employees doesn’t need to yell every time now. Instead, he can pitch to his employees what he expects of them without losing it and why he has such expectations. Now if he decides to correct his employees or even let them go, it is from a place of clarity and understanding instead of from a place of unbridled rage in the heat of the moment. Things would be similar to the now calm spouse. When their significant other doesn’t do something they ask, they now don’t have to jump to the conclusion that it is because they don’t care or think that their needs are unimportant.

 

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Seek Help

If you find yourself stuck and unable to move forward from constant irritation or anger, seek professional help. Therapists go through extensive training in understanding and treating issues such as anger. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of counseling from someone who understands and can help.

These tips are a few ways to manage and control anger. Anger can be a cumbersome problem, but there is hope to overcome its sometimes powerful grip. If you find yourself continuing to be stuck even after going through these tips, reaching out and getting professional help is something you can do for yourself and those around you. It may seem far out of reach, but there is hope. If you have any questions about counseling feel free to send me an email or if you would like to schedule an appointment you can click on the link below.

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Dealing With Your Anger (Part One)

Getting angry is easy, but dealing with its effects can be anything but that. When you get angry your breathing becomes more rapid, your heart rate increases, your muscles tense up, and you narrow in on whatever provoked your anger. Whether you were cut off in traffic, yelled at by your boss, or talked down to by your spouse or friend, the effects of one episode of anger can last for a long period of time even after the situation is over that caused the anger to surface.

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If you deal with frequent anger, you know what it is like to lose control. It feels good in the moment and it seems as if you have to get it out or it will continue to build until you lose it. People around you, whether they be close friends or family, all know too well what you are like when you get pissed off. Maybe some people walk on eggshells around you because they have been hurt by your outbursts in the past while other less familiar people may know you as the over-passionate person who always seems to be irritated or worked up about something. If you are a boss, there is almost a guarantee your employees are atrophying from your constant frustration, and if you are in a relationship, your significant other is bound to be hurt by your lack of control and painful remarks.

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Anger in Relationships

Uncontrolled anger puts you in an ironic predicament of attempting to gain control by losing it. At times, it can seem to be working, but over time, after consistent outbursts, it does just the opposite. Yelling at your employees to get things done works at first. Soon though, they will either shrivel from fear of your temper, which can cripple their ability to get things done, or leave the company hoping to find a boss who doesn’t blow up on them every chance they get. Within the context of a relationship with a significant other, things aren’t much different. Depending upon the spouse, they may shrivel in fear or match your anger with their own. Regardless, over time, there will be a lack of intimacy and connection, leading to drifting apart, which can feel like living with a stranger.

Relevant Reading:

https://revivecounsel.com/making-marriage-last/

Anger Underneath The Surface

Anger isn’t what it seems on the surface. Underneath the raised voice and red face is oftentimes a lack of support and fulfillment. The angry boss and spouse long for support and connection, and when they don’t get it, they lash out, attempting to control people or situations to get that support. Whether that’s projects done on time or the chores done around the house, it is all an attempt at connection and support. The angry boss has his own boss, who demands results, and he needs his employees to perform or he will get into serious trouble. So when he asks his employees to get things done, and they don’t, it seems like a personal attack and he becomes angry. The same goes for the angry spouse. They ask for the chores to be done because when they weren’t done before mom or dad got home growing up, they were punished or ridiculed.

So now a messy house brings up feelings of anxiety and whenever their significant other refuses to do chores, it seems like they don’t care about them or how they feel.

What Now?

Anger is not simple. It is layered and can exist on the surface of deep hurt and pain. Usually, the stronger and more pervasive the anger, the deeper and more complex the hurt and pain is right below it. We long for connection and support, and the more we continue to face rejection and unmet needs, the more we become defensive to protect ourselves from the vulnerable place of being hurt over and over. That protection and defense can be anger.

Luckily, there is hope. Anger does not have to be something that overpowers you in the moment. Instead, if you make some adjustments, it becomes a great ally. Part two of this blog explores some tips for dealing with your anger and harness its usefulness as your great ally.

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