Does Your Mental State Affect Your Relationships?
Most, if not all, mental health professionals will tell you the answer is “absolutely!” It is generally believed that your mental state contributes immensely to your ability to form close bonds with others. Many people who struggle with chronic stress, depression or anxiety lack the skills needed to create or sustain vital relationships, whether it be with a spouse, family members, or friends.
Tips on Building Healthy Relationships
- Try not to be concerned about the small things. People who struggle with stress or other emotional difficulties (particularly depression) often focus on their faults. Seek to look at the big picture, including the things you are doing well!
- Express yourself. I cannot stress this enough! Keeping your feelings inside (whether good or bad) is never a great idea. Talk it out, release your thoughts, worries and concerns. Holding your emotions in will eventually cause bad feelings to accumulate and further damage your mental state.
- Increase and improve your social support system. In general, social support networks function to buffer you from stress. The more social support people have, the less stress will have an opportunity to affect them in a negative way. There is also scientific evidence that social support affects our hormone levels. For example, it has been shown that adequate amounts of social support are associated with increases in levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to decrease anxiety levels and promote a general state of emotional calmness. It is also believed that oxytocin increases our motivation to seek out social contact with others.
Many people experiencing chronic or intense levels of stress simply do not have adequate levels of social support available. People who are chronically stressed often feel uncomfortable asking for help from others. They may feel depressed enough to start to withdraw from others (a normal symptom of depression), further decreasing the amount of social support available. This social support deficit is both a vulnerability factor for further stress problems, and also a self-fulfilling prophecy (where isolation leads to further isolation).