© 0.4 2019

USEFUL SCIENCE

people are

like vitamins

people are like vitamins:
if they're not supplementing your

life, they're not good for you

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we know that eating well, moving our bodies, and zenning out are great ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, not many of us consider how the company we keep might play a role in this health equation.

If a certain vitamin or drug supplement was making you sick, you wouldn't continue to take it, right? Duh. But when it comes to who we spend our time with, we are less objective about how certain people might be detrimental to our mental and physical health.

On the positive side, relationships are vital: they are one of the most important buffers we have when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind. In fact, a longitudinal study published in 2014 found that people in neighborhoods with higher levels of social cohesion (tight-knit communities) experienced lower rates of mental health problems than those in neighborhoods with lower cohesion, regardless of socioeconomic factors. Moreover, other studies have reported the prevalence of mental health problems, such as major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, to be higher among the homeless population in comparison to the general population. 

So, positive relationships can literally be life-saving. But, what about the ones you feel constantly drain you or send you on a tumultuous emotional rollercoaster?

It's worth thinking about the time and energy devoted to relationships --  whether they be with friends, family, or romantic partners. Going with the metaphor that if individual people are like vitamins, relationships are then like financial investments...and if you weren't getting a good return on a stock consistently, you would likely cash it out and cut your losses. Would you think to do the same with someone you've been sleeping with or an extremely negative friend you've known forever? It's definitely a harder situation to be objective about. 

However, the impact of your relationships are worth thinking about. You might find that if you consistently surround yourself with positive people and positive energy, you'll feel better -- and reap health benefits the same way you would if you stuck to a routine workout, a diet plan, or daily meditation practice. Like they say, your vibe attracts your tribe. And ultimately, your tribe (and you) will also determine your well-being.

Key Concepts

Relationships, Social Cohesion