We’ve all been told that certain habits, like eating a well-balanced diet or getting enough sleep, are beneficial for our long-term health. But how do our relationships with others impact our overall well-being? A nearly 80-year-old Harvard study has some good news for social butterflies.
“Our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, MD, director of the study, and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The study found that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ or even genes.
“The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80,” said Waldinger. Several other studies have found that people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were.
“Loneliness kills,” Waldinger said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too.”
You can read the full story in the Harvard Gazette.
Also check out Dr. Waldinger’s popular TED Talk.