Healthy relationships can help increase physical and mental health. Close healthy relationships can even boost the immune system. Receiving positive and non-judgemental support from others can help reduce the stress and anxiety of everyday life. However, relationships are the most helpful when they not only help us go through difficult times, but also when they help us grow during the good times too.
As we discussed last week when talking about boundaries, creating healthy relationships also takes work – it requires that you know what healthy relationships are and that you take an active role in shaping them. To help you figure out if you’re in a healthy relationship or not, ask yourself, “How do I feel after spending time with them?” Healthy relationships usually leave people feeling supported, reflective, or challenged in a good way. Toxic relationships leave people filled with self-doubt, negativity, or worry more often than not. Besides setting boundaries with others, what are some of the ways you can develop healthy relationships?
- Clear and honest communication
- Admitting and accepting responsibility when you make a mistake
- Supporting each other but not belittling or giving unwanted advice
- Trusting the other person and giving them the benefit of the doubt
- Not engaging in manipulation or intimidation
While this list might seem obvious – these issues can come up in any relationship, including your parents, friends, significant others, or mentors. It’s also easy for relationships to start out healthy and then become unhealthy or even toxic over time.
Toxic relationships can cause stress and other mental health problems that can impact you even when you’re not with the other person. They can make you more irritable, making it difficult to concentrate and perform well in class. Toxic relationships can even put you at a greater risk for physical health problems.
As you go through college, you will meet many different people and will have to navigate how to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Remember it’s healthy to put yourself first and to check-in with how the other person makes you feel. You can create healthy relationships that will help you handle stress and difficult times but that will also help you grow when things are going well!