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Psychological Health: How Strengthening Your Relationships Can Help

Relationships are a significant part of a person's life. It's through our relationships that we have the opportunity to feel heard and understood. It's through relationships that we can feel seen by others. It's through relationships that we can feel accepted and loved.

At the same time, it's very common for those who are experiencing depression, anxiety or addiction to withdraw from others. Whether it's because they want to avoid the pain that others cause them or they want to stay in denial about their addiction, illness tends to promote isolation.

Sadly, isolation isn't only distancing yourself from others, it can also include emotional, psychological, and social separation. For instance, two people may be living together but there may be emotional, psychological, and social distance between them. In some marriages, for instance, there is a physical closeness because they share the same house yet barely experience a relationship between them, this can be especially true if one person is experiencing an addiction.

People pull away in relationships because they may be fearful of:

·         rejection

·         abandonment

·         judgment

·         loss

·         emotional pain

Yet, there is room for emotional and psychological closeness. In other words when there is a strong relationship with friends and family members, a person is more likely to feel supported, accepted, loved, and embraced despite what's going on for them.

In fact, research shows that when a person is experiencing an addiction or another form of psychological illness, they have greater chances of recovery or overcoming illness because they feel connected to a community or family. Connections with others provides a strong psychological boost and can greatly impact the course of recovery from addiction and mental illness - in a positive way.

If you want to strengthen the relationships in your home, try the following:

Ask someone out for coffee or tea - This might be a family member or a friend. Or, if you're trying to make new friends, you might need to muster up the courage to approach someone you want to get to know. Perhaps you've seen someone at meetings, or perhaps you've even had one or two conversations with them. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about reaching out and making new friends as you do. If you have the courage you can be the one to break the ice.

Invite your family member or friend in a conversation. If you notice yourself always pushing away, isolating, and avoiding conversation, perhaps you might want to do the opposite for all the reasons mentioned above. Having meaningful conversations with those you love and who love you can feel rewarding. Sure, it can feel awkward at first. But once it's done you might be glad you did it.

Talk to a therapist or mental health counselor. If you find that you're having trouble with starting a conversation or moving emotionally closer to friends and family but you're having a hard time, a mental health provider can help. Often, a therapist knows the right questions to ask to help you begin to build the relationships and friendships you want in your life.

These are suggestions to help strengthen your relationships, which in turn, can help strengthen your psychological well being.

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.