Inside Out – Healthy Self, Healthy Relationships

by Dayle McMillan MA, RCC, Coastal Compass Counselling – 

Healthy relationships have a huge impact on mental health. The most important relationships I’ve had are people who helped me through challenging times; pushed me when I needed it; celebrated big life events with me; cried and laughed with me; and respected my boundaries but, most importantly, supported me, as I would for them. Relationships come in a variety of forms: friendships, romantic partners, work relationships, family relationships, acquaintances and even the relationship we have with ourselves. Healthy relationships can bring us a higher quality of life, better self-esteem, healthier mental health and overall support.

Something we tend to forget, is that one of the most important relationships we’ll have throughout our entire lives is the one we have with ourselves. A healthy self is the foundation that leads us to the potential of a healthy life and healthy relationships. There will be times in our lives where our “cup” is full and we can share with those around us, but there will also be times where we have very little of ourselves to share, causing us to focus inwards. In other words, to support and be there for others, we need to support and take care of ourselves. When we experience the push and pull of demands that life places on us, we sometimes forget to reflect on the relationships in our life and whether they are healthy.

So how can we work on surrounding ourselves with healthy relationships? Well, practising self-care is important but so is starting to be aware of our own reactions, needs, wants, emotions and physical sensations. This allows us the time and energy to maintain relationships but also helps us communicate to others more effectively, which is an important part of healthy relationships.

Conflict will always be a part of life but it’s how we deal with it that matters. Healthy communication allows us to discuss our thoughts and feelings but also gives us the ability to listen to others too. Are we feeling triggered and need to take a step back to breathe? Are we in a place where we can listen, truly understand and paraphrase? Are we feeling heard?

Setting boundaries within ourselves and with others is also very important when it comes to healthy relationships. Boundaries allow us to understand who we want to be close with and who we want to be distant from. This could include: physical, emotional, mental, sexual, social and even spiritual. Are our boundaries being respected or are we stepping over others? Are we aware of the boundaries we have/want and communicating them clearly? Are we confused about where boundaries start and end within our relationships? All are factors to start considering.

Make 2023 the year you prioritize your mental health.

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