How to improve your relationships with others

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is relationships. The Mental Health Foundation has chosen this topic in order to raise awareness to the general public about just how important relationships are for people’s mental health.

When considering the bond a person has with a partner, friendships, family members and work colleagues, it’s the combination of all these relationships that establishes good mental wellbeing. Life Works wants to highlight some great ways to improve and strengthen relationships with others.

Listen

It is common in modern times for people to feel so busy that they seldom have time to really sit down with others and talk. Even when meeting someone for a coffee or heading out for dinner, people are often guilty of being distracted by mobile phones and not giving the conversation the attention it deserves.

As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and this applies here. The opportunity to vent frustration is often a good stress reliever, and it can strengthen a relationship when there is reciprocity in this process. Building a bond through the exchange of support is conducive to nurturing strong relationships which, in turn, aids good mental health. So whenever feelings of stress or anxiety arise, a person has the support network they need.

Random acts of kindness

Many studies have shown that helping others is one of the best things a person can do to boost their own morale. Being thoughtful and compassionate is not only great for a person’s own wellbeing, it can also completely turn someone else’s day around.

Sponsor somebody who is raising money for charity, take a parent out for lunch, compliment a friend on their new clothes or remind a partner how much they’re appreciated. Being around positivity boosts others and people will naturally gravitate towards its source.

Make an effort

Some commonly used phrases might include ‘where has the time gone?’ and ‘I can’t believe how fast this year is going.’ With work and family commitments people are often so busy time really can fly and, as if in a flash, months have passed since catching up with loved ones.

Make an effort to find the time to meet up with friends and family because these relationships fuel good mental health. One of the best ways to maintain this is to make a regular thing out of it. For example, attending the same gym class with friends every week; taking turns to host a nice Sunday lunch with family; or, plan monthly gatherings with a group of friends.

Learn how to handle conflicts

Disagreements will happen from time-to-time, but the way a person handles them can make a huge difference to a relationship.

It is ok to disagree and if it’s not a big deal, leave it at that. In a case of genuine conflict, try to consider it from the other person’s point of view. Both parties may feel equally strongly, so it is important to empathise, and this will increase the likelihood of a positive resolution.

Allow time to hear both sides and remember to stop and think before responding. Things said in the heat of the moment are rarely meant, but some things can’t be unsaid, so maintaining composure and pausing for thought can help to allay any risk of something boiling over.

It’s all about give and take

Some people are naturally very generous and others are more selfish. It’s unlikely that anybody is selfish on purpose, a person can become caught up in their own world and not realise how they’re acting.

It’s good to dwell on the give and take from a relationship. Does one side often yield to the other’s demands? Is one side always making the effort to travel when meeting up? Which family member usually initiates communication?

Whilst it isn’t about keeping score, it’s a good thing to be aware of how much giving and taking is being done in any relationship. Making an effort is a way of showing appreciation and it can only help to strengthen relationships.

If you think that you or someone you know could be struggling with a mental health problem, please feel free to contact Life Works in the strictest of confidence and we will be more than happy to help.

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