Although at this time of year Valentine’s Day means the focus often falls on romantic relationships, it is worth recognising the importance all types of relationships have on your mental wellbeing and ability to be resilient.

Positive social relationships are not only an important facilitator of resilience, but they also keep us happier and healthier. So, in this article, we are going to outline how to recognise them and how to make them stronger.

Connecting and spending time with the people we have positive relationships with acts as a buffer against stress and helps to build positive emotions. Those people allow us to share our successes and will celebrate them with us. And when we are in challenging times they help us to analyse our problems and find a solution.

Relationships that have a negative impact on us can leave us feeling drained, and are often a waste of time, energy and emotion.

How to tell if a relationship is a positive one

It is a good idea to review your social and work network every once in a while to consider whether all of your relationships are beneficial to you and working as they should. For some of your relationships this may be glaringly obvious depending on how they make you feel, but if you are unsure ask yourself these questions:

– When you need support who do you know will provide it?
– Who do you find yourself offering support to?
– Is there a good balance of giving and receiving of support in the relationship, or does it all seem to be one-sided?
– Are you both able to honestly express your thoughts and feelings?
– Do you accept and value each other as you are?
– Do you try to see things from each other’s perspective, without judgment?

How to nourish positive relationships

As positive relationships are so beneficial, it is worth putting some thought and effort into how you can build them and make them stronger.
– Make the effort to connect with the other person using prosocial behaviours. These include acts of kindness, generosity, inclusion, interest and acceptance.
– Ensure you are a responsive participant in the relationship. Ask questions, listen to what the other person is saying, share how you are feeling and display empathy.
– Schedule in time to nurture the relationship and connect with the other person. This doesn’t have to be face to face, you could video-call them or even write to them. Try to make the time meaningful if you can, without other distractions getting in the way.

It is the quality, and not the quantity, of your relationships that counts. Less can in many ways be more, as it means you can dedicate more of your time to each one and avoid neglecting them through spreading yourself too thinly. You could even factor building your positive relationships into your self-care practices.

We’d love to know who has a beneficial impact on your life – why not share a photo of the two of you on our Facebook page and tag them to tell them why you are grateful to have them.