Thus far, we have covered four out of the Six Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine in our series, and in this article, we address healthy relationships. We discussed the stress management pillar with Adam Courchaine, PA-C, MPAS of NuMed Direct Primary Care and invited him back to discuss healthy relationships since there is such a strong correlation between the two pillars. Healthy relationships are so important in achieving positive health outcomes because as human beings we are “wired to be more of a tribe,” says Adam. In fact, having healthy relationships extends your life.
Love is therapeutic, quite literally! There is a physiological effect that good relationships produce as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to relax after any stress response (bringing the heart rate down, lowering blood pressure and breathing easier) as well as induce digestion and manage the body’s sexual function. The brain also releases “feel good” hormones including dopamine when you get rewarded. Endorphins, the body’s natural pain and stress reliever get released from physical touch in addition to exercise. With a lot of stress, fear, negativity, and uncertainty in the world, healthy relationships foster safety, community and “help you connect to the present.”