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Mental Health Awareness Week - Relationships

Published on 13th May 2016

Mental Health Awareness Week 2016: Relationships

You may not realise it but the relationships we have with other people are as vital to our wellbeing as other well-known lifestyle factors such as eating well and exercising regularly. However, how much time do we really commit to building and maintaining good relationships? It’s so easy to let life get in the way – to neglect the relationships that play an important role in our mental health. To highlight this, the Mental Health Foundation have made relationships the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2016.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 16th – 22nd May 2016 and, during this time, the Mental Health Foundation are encouraging us all to make a relationship resolution. What does this mean though? We all know how hard it can be to keep those promises we make to ourselves every New Year: the gym membership card gathering dust by February and the brand new healthy smoothie maker that’s barely seen the light of day. But, what if we could all make a simple resolution that doesn’t just last for New Year; one that positively affects us and the people around us? That’s just what the relationship resolution aims to do.

Whether it be the relationship with our partners, family, friends or work colleagues, making some simple changes to how we relate and communicate with others can have a hugely beneficial effect on our health and happiness. To take part and make your own relationship resolution, all you need to do is spend some time thinking about the relationships you have. Do you feel that you actively commit enough time to building and maintaining them? Could you invest more time in being present with the people you care about? Could you perhaps improve your listening skills or be more compassionate?  

Compassion – caring about the good of others – is an important, but often absent, characteristic of relationships. Sometimes our own lives can be so hectic and distressing that we overlook the needs of other people. Research has shown that compassion is essential for building and maintaining enduring relationships. Or, in other words, it’s the key to making our relationships stand the test of time! But how can we be more compassionate? ‘Being present’ with others is one way to show compassion. ‘Being present’ is different to just ‘being with’ someone; it’s about actually focusing on & appreciating the time you’re spending together; engaging with the other person, not just listening to them telling you about their day whilst checking your emails on your phone or wondering what you’re going to cook for dinner! Devoting your time to another person by being present with them is one way to show compassion and care.

What about listening and being listened to? We all listen to other people on a daily basis and we hear so many different voices & opinions that sometimes it’s easy to switch off and not truly ‘listen’ to what someone else is saying. How many times have you ‘listened’ to someone but 5 minutes later can’t recall what they actually said? In all relationships, listening is a key factor that is overlooked all too often. Listening isn’t just hearing, it’s about actively engaging with the other person and really thinking about their words, their tone of voice, and their expressions. By improving our listening skills, we can improve the quality and authenticity of the relationships we have with others.

The relationships we share with others are complex but we hold the power to improve them and to change the way we feel for the better. Taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of ourselves physically!

If you’d like to read more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, please visit



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