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  • Writer's pictureDr. Evelyn Bilias Lolis

Relationships: Vitamins for your Mental Health?


I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately on relational selectivity and the quality of our relationships.  Our inner circle is one of the most powerful contributors to our happiness and wellbeing in addition to influencing our ability to evaluate ourselves justly and accuracy.  We often go through our day to day routines with most items on autopilot, including our relationships. We absorb interactions, words, passive behaviors as if they are part of the general culture. We flow. It takes great courage and bravery, however, to slow down, pause and ask ourselves, “Is this what I really want?” or “Is this person bringing out the best in me while also helping me to grow and become a better version of myself”?  These questions can seem impossible to answer in a rushed world yet their contemplation is indispensable to our evolution as human beings, to our sense of self and our self-esteem, as well as to our ability to accurately plan for a meaningful life.

 

My inner circle has been in place for decades. And yet, in adulthood, I continue to surprise myself with new relationships that add so much value and enrichment to my life while other known ones can feel like they are taking a detour.  This detouring is quite tricky; sometimes the detour signs lead us back together with patience and in humility.  Other times I wonder if the detour serves as the precursor to a new direction, one without one another.

 

We live in a time where depression and anxiety in children and adults (and especially in women) are at record levels (or at least they are being recorded as such).  Public health officials have coined a "loneliness epidemic" with numerous studies suggesting that disconnection and isolation have deleterious health outcomes (cardiac, immune, longevity, nervous system functioning, etc.).  I don’t think we realize the role our relationships play in our overall health; how they can serve as a buffer and wellspring or as a sabbotage to our wellbeing. 

 

What is the answer? Not sure I have one other than one simple start point: reflection

 

Our ability to take a step back and deeply meditate or pray on which relationships we truly invest in and which we keep cordial or professional is as lucrative as a vitamin or exercise regimen.  Similar to a coach who is continuously examining his/her/their bench and making assessments as to who can do what, what new talent needs to be brought in, and when it is time for a trade or retirement, we need to evaluate our inner circle.  It can sound harsh, I know.  But it can also be done lovingly and respectfully. 

 

Our circle is closely corelated to our wellbeing; it should be a reserved place for individuals who can recognize it as a sanctuary and add to its the beauty. Our closest people should be vitamins that nourish our souls.

 

This lesson is one worth teaching to our tweens and youngsters as well as so many of us who forget to prioritize it as see it for what our relationships truly are and can be…a nourishing vitamin or a toxic tonic.  It begins with us.

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