New Castle News

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February 14, 2013

Lori Brothers: Intimacy plays key role in good health

NEW CASTLE — Recently, I had a very wise gentleman — a local businessman — share what a large impact it made on him to learn how much social support is directly related to health.

He said that he was willing to learn more about exercise because he knew that was necessary and practical. Now he admits that connection and intimacy are as important as exercise and what you eat.

I appreciated his willingness to express what an “eye-opener” it was for him. His willingness to share his feelings about what he learned, and how it affected him;  it could be very healing for him.

Honestly sharing is part of what intimacy is. It also triggered me to bring it to all of you. Like a domino effect, how we show up, emote and share the best of ourselves makes a difference to ourselves, and each other.

February is “National Heart Disease Awareness Month” and I know a lot of you can also benefit from this information about the importance of social support to promote health and well-being. As humans we affect our health every time we connect, in small or large ways. I guess you can call this, “Living from the heart.”

Research has shown that people who are isolated are 2.9 time more likely to die from all causes of disease. This is why it is so important to take notice of where you may be isolating yourself. Your connection to others keeps you healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.

Take a serious look at how you engage in social relationships with family, friends, and your affiliations with volunteer or civic organizations. It may be a matter of life and death. When you contribute, and have the openness to receive, you are promoting your own health. If you tend not to invest yourself in relationships for any number of reasons you are putting your health at risk.

 Creating meaningful ties to others is both a personal and preferential matter. The saying, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family” is an interesting one here. The research suggests that even if you don’t always get along with the people in your life, such as siblings, spouse or children, as long as you have at least one person that you can talk to safely and honestly (whether a blood relative or not), you are healthier.

This is especially important to note because not everyone feels comfortable in groups. Make sure you have at least that one “someone” that you know you can share from your heart what you are feeling, and what is happening for you. If you don’t have this kind of connection, take the time to develop one.

 Often times when a person is diagnosed with an illness, the diagnosis itself can feel isolating. It is best to find someone to process how you feel. The connection helps you to stay in the moment where you are more likely to stay engaged in life.

 Benefits of the lifesaving value of connection include:

•Learning how to communicate in ways that enhance intimacy with loved ones.

•Creating a healthy community of friends and family.

•Developing more compassion and empathy for yourself and others.

The biological effects of producing intimacy, support and connection with others result from decreasing stress and depression that are associated with elevated blood pressure, elevated lipids, increased angina, impaired immune system, obesity and diabetes.

Perhaps this Valentine’s Day you can focus on the action that intimacy requires. Notice where you can share more, listen more, and positively connect with others. Take the time to express your appreciation for the people you care about. The decision to give and receive more may be the healthiest Valentine you will ever gift.

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