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Mental Health Awareness Week: The Importance of Relationships

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2019 is body image and it has posed the questions, why is it important?  Some of the research we’ve seen this week includes an estimate that one-third of self-esteem issues are related to body image. Poor body image can cause issues in your working life, intimate relationships and friendships.

Given their powers to transform our lives, it’s interesting that many of us don’t stop and really look at what is going on in our relationships.

And even just reading the word can lead many of us to think that this is just about our romantic relationships. But actually, the word is to do with anyone that we relate to in any way – as the word ‘relate’ gives away!

We have relationships with our co-workers, as well as our family. With our friends, as well as with ourselves. A significant component of a relationship relates to communication, which has different aspects. These can include the verbal, and the nonverbal.

And it tends to get more difficult to communicate in the way that we would perhaps like to when we are under pressure. When we have time to stop and think in a calm situation, it is easier to choose our words carefully and be conscious of the meaning that we are conveying.

Yet under pressure, this can all go out the window. We might find that we are speaking before we think, and regretting the words spoken as soon as they have left our mouth. This can be damaging in all of our relationships – from the personal to the professional.

There are a few ways that we can improve how we communicate when we are stressed or in a high-pressure scenario. And while it may not always be easy to remember how, with practice, they will come more easily.

Firstly, it can help to remember that we do communicate in ways more than just the words we choose and how we say them. Being aware of our nonverbal communication can positively impact on a situation. Crossing our arms can act as a type of barrier, while standing up straight can help us to seem confident and approachable.

Acting in an inconsistent way can be counterproductive in some relationships, commonly such as work relationships. Often, inconsistency is viewed as unpredictable, and this can act to make a relationship less stable. Try to have consistent responses to situations – and again, this may be easier said than done, but having an awareness of this can be the first step to improving it.

Another effective tip is to focus on understanding what the other person is telling you. This type of active listening can go a very long way in helping to resolve conflicts before they arise, and helping to smooth over anything that may have been brewing.

There are many other effective strategies to help with relationships, and starting with communication can be an effective place to begin.