Why Relationships Affect Our Mental Health and What We Can Do to Improve It

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Photo © Becca Tapert

We are living in an increasingly stressful world, and stress is one of the leading triggers for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. I first started battling anxiety in 2012, and I began to isolate myself and hide what I was feeling. I felt guilty that I was struggling with my Mental Health when others had it worse than I did.

When we isolate ourselves it can put a strain on all of our relationships, whether it be romantic,  family, friend or even professional relationships. Personally, I love spending time alone, but I crave meaningful human interaction. It is only natural that when we are struggling, we want to reach out to those closest to us but when adverse mental health takes over, it can make it even harder.

Our mental health conditions have a way of lying to us. It convinces us that no one wants to hear about how we feel. It assures us that our partner will leave us if we tell them, or our parents will wonder where they went wrong, or that our friends won’t truly understand, or that our colleagues will think that we’re making it up for attention or special treatment. By replaying these thoughts over and over in our heads, we are inadvertently ruining the relationships we are so lovingly
trying to protect.

When you withhold your struggles, you can never entirely hide it from your closest connections. People will know that you are hiding something, even though they might not know what exactly it is. 

Women are starting to speak out more about their battles with mental health. When you open up to someone and let them know how you honestly feel, you will be surprised at just how caring they can be. A lot of the time, when I open up to someone about my struggles, they tell me that either they or someone else they know have been through the same thing. 

We are not alone and knowing this and repeating it as a mantra, helps improve our well-being.

I have found that the relationships that I have with my friends have become closer since talking openly about my mental health and that as women we empower each other to move forward and learn to live alongside our psychological illness rather than it draining the life from us.

A variety of relationships are essential for us to not only as women but as human beings. It is not just that our relationships are affected by our mental health, but also that our mental health can be affected by our relationships.

Regardless of whether or not you struggle to maintain your mental health, it is essential to surround yourself with mood boosters instead of mood hoovers. Just as the saying goes, you are what you eat – what you think of yourself is what you become. You don’t need people to reinforce the negative thoughts that you already have about yourself; you need people who tell you when you’re doing great and show your support.

Our mental well-being and mental health go hand-in-hand and the relationships we hold on to, have the potential to make or break both connections. Here are three ways you can make sure your relationships are having a positive effect on your mental health. 

 

Talk.

Talk to someone, either a professional or a trusted family member or friend. This way, you won’t feel like you have to isolate yourself when you’re not feeling your best.

 

Cut toxic people out of your life.

You are allowed to stop texting that toxic relative back, you are allowed to no longer associate with those who bring you so low down that you question your self-worth.

 

Ask the people around you if they are feeling ok. Rely on each other for support.

You are a strong woman who is battling something terrible, that doesn’t make you fragile, it makes you a force to be reckoned with. Getting through each day with a mental health disorder makes you stronger than anyone who has never had to deal with it before. You are amazing and don’t let yourself convince you otherwise.