“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Who are the five people with whom you spend the most time — at work, at home and socially? Your relationships have an impact on your health according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, a chemical which damages your heart. Laughter, relaxation and sleep (along with exercise) eliminate cortisol from your body. So here is the question: Are your friends, family and coworkers helping you eliminate cortisol or creating it?
According to an article in Heartwire from WebMD:
“We think the quality of social relationships can be a very important factor for health and well-being,” epidemiologist Dr. De Vogli told Heartwire. “There is a growing body of literature that shows that being exposed to negative relationships that increase worry, anxiety, and feelings of low self-esteem can in the long term produce emotional effects that may trigger biological changes in the body.”
Women are far more affected by negative relationships. For example, a stressful, unsupportive marriage has been shown to increase a woman’s risk of heart attack, heart failure and metabolic syndrome by up to 34%. The study indicates that people, particularly women, dwell on negative encounters more than on positive one. Which is bad news for the health of women working in negative environments.
So, what are your five people doing for your health?
Take positive steps to create positive interactions:
Pay attention to your body cues. Does your stomach clench every time you see one particular number on caller ID? Do you start to get anxious when you see a certain coworker coming down the hall? Are you excited about walking in the door or does going home seem like a chore? Listen to what your body is telling you and don’t ignore the problem.
Seek out positive interactions. Just like one good golf shot can make a whole round worthwhile, one good interaction can turn your day around. Cultivate relationships that allow you to laugh, decompress and feel good.
Create a safe place to dwell. Choose to surround yourself with people who help you live a healthy and productive life — at work and at home. Limit the time you spend with people who bring your down and give you stress.
Don’t dwell on the negative. Sometimes negative interactions can’t be avoided, but you can control how you long you hold on to them. Work out the frustration, anger and stress — don’t let it build up.
Be the person other people want in their five. Pay attention to the way you interact with others. We all need to vent, but make sure you WOO HOO and share the good things too. Listen more than you talk. Laugh more than you grouch. Love more than you complain.
Pay attention to your words. For many women complaining about their spouse or significant other is part of casual conversation, and is often exaggerated for effect. Words have power. If you only ever talk about the negative aspects of your partner how can he or she not diminish in your esteem? Talk about the good aspects of your relationships and build them up rather than tear them down.
Be grateful to those who are positive. Nurture those who give you joy and comfort. Say thanks for the support every once and a while. We all need to know we are valued.
Embrace Your Heart with wonderful relationships and lead a rich and healthy life!
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Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com
6 Responses to “Are your friends hurting or helping your heart?”
“Be the person other people want in their five.”
Eliz, it’s hard for me to think of someone else who lives up to this one better than you. You rock.
Right back attcha — Jason!
Hi: I’m a cardiologist and I think the postings on your blog are fabulous.
I would add that it’s clear from countless research studies that stress/emotions dramatically alter what happens to our physical bodies and especially the heart.
It makes sense that our relationships would also influence our heart health, and why its important to work on our emotional/relationship health.
Dr. Kirk Laman
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