An emotional connection is the energy that exists between two people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement, and when they derive sustenance and strength from that relationship.
The impact of being around loved ones can be significant to your mental and physical health. There have been ample studies on how emotional connections with loved ones can help one heal. As the discussion on loneliness and isolation caused by the Covid-19 lockdown continues, it is crucial to remember that being in touch with your family and friends can lead to mental peace and physical well-being.
It is important to be around loved ones, even while we try to keep our circles small and maintain social distancing. Although there has been no scientific study on whether the presence or absence of a person can affect emotional well-being; studies in social psychology stress on the need to share incidents of trauma or pain with loved ones. Being around your loved ones also creates a sense of security, something that people desperately need in unprecedented times such as these. Our family or group of close friends is often the ones we turn to during times of crisis. They act as our safety valve to help us cope with tough situations. After all, going back to an empty room at the end of the day is not really the best of things.
How does Being Around Loved Ones Significantly Impact Your Mental and Physical Health?
Being Around Loved Ones Facilitates Better Sharing of Emotions
We are the most comfortable in the company of our loved ones. A close company of our nearest and dearest people facilitates mental peace. Our encounter with another person, especially with our loved ones, helps us connect to our emotional selves. This is especially true in case of traumatic memories, such as fear or grief. In his book, Opening Up, social psychologist Dr. James Pennebaker writes that sharing of trauma or any deep emotion can significantly improve health..
Long term studies were conducted with holocaust survivors where they were requested to speak about their experiences, especially to other family members or people they knew, in a safe space. Their biological test prior and after the sessions revealed considerable improvement in blood pressure, pulse rates, etc. This is especially true if people get to share their deep experiences in comfortable, safe spaces and with people, they already know.
Acts as a Safety Valve
Being with loved ones, especially in times of unprecedented crisis, often acts as a safety valve. Several theoretical streams consider the family as a safety valve for tensions generated in the outside world. According to both functionalist and Marxist analysis, the family is the institutional safety valve for the chaos of the industrial society. Think of the many times you’d had a bad day at work or school and you came back, tired and hapless. It was your loved ones who cared for you, comforted you, perhaps made your favourite snack.
The outside world in modern society is bound to create pressure and anxieties. It is your loved ones who help you deal with the stress. Just being around people from a close, comfortable circle acts as a stress reliever.
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Provides a Sense of Security
Being around the people you love provides a sense of security that is much needed in times of crisis such as these. Living alone can often lead to loneliness and negative thoughts. It may result in a feeling of insecurity. Symptoms of depression and stress disorders may be aggravated when you live alone.
This is especially true in the case of older people. Often, living alone, away from loved ones, may be the cause of emotional as well as physical ailments. Living in the comfortable company of loved ones gives us confidence. We feel in control, no matter how bad the situation seems to be. This significantly improves our mental as well as physical health. Studies with PTSD patients have shown that staying connected with loved ones often helps to reduce stressful outbursts or other related incidents.
Building Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, understand, and use your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress and anxiety, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. EQ is the key to success and happiness in personal relationships, career and professional goals. Maintaining good relationships with loved ones and developing meaningful emotional bonds not only ensures the sharing of emotions but also recognition and understanding of the same.
Since we are in a comfortable space already, the flow of emotions tends to be natural rather than bottled up. Communication tends to be natural and easy-going. Conflict resolution and handling of stressful situations also tend to be easier with loved ones, than with strangers. This is because we usually share similar environments, lifestyles, and circumstances with them. Therefore, it is easier to interact and understand each other.
Stable Family Relations Ensure Stable Relationships
Being connected with loved ones and sharing stable relations with them ensures stable future relationships for us. This is especially true in a world that is rapidly becoming individualistic. Stable relations in the family ensure a secure childhood, resulting in stable relationships in adult life. Stable and good relationships among loved ones is the key source of peace within the household. And, a harmonious environment in the primary circle is important for healthy emotions.
A Strong Anchor
Being around people who love and care for you provides a strong emotional anchor. The attachments theory argues that a strong emotional and physical bond to the primary circle is critical to the development of the human mind. If the bonding is strong and we are securely attached, we feel safe to explore the world.
We know that there is always a safe space that we can turn to at any time. If the bond is weak, we are insecurely attached and this results in feelings of insecurity when venturing into the world. This is because we are not sure if we will ever be able to return. People who are securely attached tend to have greater trust, can easily connect to others and as a result, are more successful in life.
Insecure relationships lead to trust issues, lack of social skills, facing difficulty in forming relations, and facing trouble in accomplishing even the smallest of tasks. Insecure attachments may also lead to anxiety disorders. Strong emotional connections are necessary for healthy and stable emotional development.
Lesser Financial Woes
Loved ones are often likely to bail us out in case of a financial crunch. One of the key reasons for reverse migration out of the cities was the hope that village communities would provide relief from the financial crisis created by the pandemic. Close friends and families hold out a helping hand in case of such a crisis.
Not only does this provide relief from materialistic emergencies, but also eases the mental anxiety that such situations usually entail. In fact, in countries like India, loved ones or close friends and family, provide a system of alternative economic support when the market fails. Being with the loved ones can thus ease the money woes, albeit temporarily.
A Balanced Diet
One of the primary ways to heal emotionally as well as physically is to stick to a balanced diet. Millennials and Gen Z of today, living busy lives by themselves in places of work and study, away from homes can hardly follow a stable diet. Dietary habits not only impact physical health, but also mental wellbeing. Consumption of fast food or food with excessive oils and fats can never be good for health. Feel good foods or comfort foods, such as pizzas or chocolates, can be harmful when consumed on a regular basis.
Being around loved ones, on the other hand, can ensure a balanced diet. Home cooked food or food prepared indoors is healthy, nourishing and hygienic. It is necessary for good physical health and in turn, emotional health and healing. Food-mood connection studies have shown that nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acids, vitamins B and D, magnesium, and tryptophan can be connected to emotional wellbeing. These nutrients are to be found in a healthy, balanced diet.
Online Emotional Connections
Being around loved ones does not necessarily entail physical presence. In a world where virtual connections are increasingly becoming prevalent, it is necessary to create online spaces for mental and emotional healing.
That is why platforms like Now&Me allow for comfortable and non-judgemental spaces to connect to like-minded people, make deeper connections, share feelings and emotions, and get in touch with professionals if needed. These platforms provide room for sympathetic hearing and sharing experiences, through blogs, questions and answers, and sharing of thoughts.
In trying times such as now, it is normal to feel low and lonely; but let us never forget that we aren’t alone. Connecting emotionally within comfortable spaces allow us to heal and stay safe.