We know how we feel when we’re around people we care about, those that make us laugh, feel safe and comfort when needed. Well, now there’s scientific evidence that those solid relationships not only play a positive role in the way we feel but also directly impact our longevity.
After following the surviving Crimson men for nearly 80 years as part of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, researchers have collected a cornucopia of data on their physical and mental health.
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
“The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80”.
The researchers also found that marital satisfaction has a protective effect on people’s mental health. Part of a study found that people who had happy marriages in their 80s reported that their moods didn’t suffer even on the days when they had more physical pain. Those who had unhappy marriages felt both more emotional and physical pain.
Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills,” he said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism…Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains.”
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