Good health is about much more than feeling fit. It's actually a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. So let's explore how to improve your relationships... 

By personal trainer Mareike Bout

Hi and welcome to my ultimate guide to healthy living. If you've missed the first steps, here they are:

Step #1 was taking stock of your current health and fitness

Step #2 was addressing any issues that were uncovered during step #1.

Step #3 was moving more (by increasing your amount of exercise).

Step #4 was upgrading your diet.

Step #5 was managing stress.

Step #6 was sleeping better.  

And here's step #7: developing your relationships!

I do more than train my clients towards enjoying better fitness outcomes. I am their coach, and in order to help my clients realise their goals of enjoying peak health and fitness I work with them to improve every facet of life that impacts their lifestyle and wellbeing.

I teach them that good health is far more than feeling physically fit, or not being sick. As defined by the World Health Organisation, it is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". My previous articles covered the physical, and the mental aspects of healthy living, so now I want to talk about another important factor – the social.

Healthy living isn't just about your personal habits, like diet and exercise. It's also about your connections with other people: your social network. Maintaining strong relationships:

  • Increases your sense of belonging and purpose.
  • Boosts your happiness and reduces your stress.
  • Improves your self-confidence and self-worth. 
  • Helps you cope with traumas such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one.
  • Encourages you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.

Here are my tips for broadening your social network:

  • Look for people like you. The details of their lives don't have to match yours, but look for a similar level of openness. What really is important in terms of promoting relationship wellbeing is that you share a similar level of comfort in getting close to people.
  • Spend time with people. There's this emphasis in our culture that you need to be very independent – that you can get along on your own. Most people don't know their neighbours as much as they did in previous generations. Attend community events, volunteer, extend and accept social invitations. 
  • Build both virtual and face-to-face relationships. Technology is a powerful tool for connecting with like-minded people and communities from around the world, and can be as beneficial as having in-person relationships.

To nurture your relationships:

  • Accept yourself first, and nurture your self-esteem.
  • Accept others. Give your friends space to change, grow, and make mistakes.
  • Be positive. Non-stop complaining puts a strain on relationships.
  • Don’t compete. Admire their talents and celebrate their good fortune.
  • Listen up. Let them know you are paying close attention to their lives.
  • Respect boundaries, and maintain their confidence.

Enjoy your friends and family, and enjoy your health and fitness. 

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