“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” — Brene Brown
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to lovers and relationships. Kids will exchange valentines with friends. For a day, we will say sweet things to each other.
Research suggests that one of the most important things we can do for our health and well-being is to build and maintain strong relationships. In his well-received TED Talk, Dr. Robert Waldinger reveals the surprising result of a 75-year Harvard study showing that people in the most satisfying relationships at age 50, are the healthiest in their eighties.
The clearest message that we get from the 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happy and healthy, period. — Robert Waldinger
Some researchers believe that relationships have a positive effect on the immune system via decreased secretion of stress hormones. Constantly living in conflict or feeling isolated, on the other hand, creates stress in the body. It seems human beings are hardwired for connection.
In the last principle of How to Raise a Mindful Eater, I make the case for connecting with kids to benefit their relationship with food. After all, emerging research shows the quality of the relationship between parents and children impact the risk of eating problems and obesity. Taking data from project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens), family functioning – communication, closeness, and problem solving – was shown to fuel healthy habits in both girls and boys.
This week, let’s be mindful of our relationships and their effect on health and well-being. What would happen if we viewed strengthening relationships like other healthy habits such as exercise and eating well? Would we be more likely to make everyday Valentine’s Day by working to stay connected with those we love?