People are over-worked and stressed out. They're so busy with all the commitments in their lives that they feel they don't have the energy it takes to spend time and effort to connect with their loved ones. Why not start this year off right by making a new year's resolution to develop and maintain healthy relationships? Whether it's a family member, your significant other or a colleague, our relationships with the most important people in our lives can energize or drain us. We have the ability to help nurture and develop those relationships so that they can be the healthy foundation we need when the world around us seems more stressful than ever. Here are five relationship resolutions that can help make 2011 your best year yet.
- Take Better Care of Yourself
- Commit to Uninterrupted Time Together and Make Sure It's "Quality" Time
- Repair Broken Relationships
- Use, Don't Abuse Technology
- Do Something Nice for Someone Else
You can't be your best, when you're feeling your worst. A recent American Psychological Association report shows that Americans' stress levels have reached almost epidemic proportions. When you aren't eating and sleeping right, or exercising, you are more fatigued, irritable and you lack energy and motivation. All of those things can erode healthy relationships at home and at work. You have to start by taking care of yourself before you can successfully take care of others. When you aren't well you won't be the best spouse, parent, friend or coworker. Rest, eat well and exercise.
Carve out time to connect face to face with family, friends and colleagues. Sometimes you literally have to schedule the time, put it on your calendar and protect it just like you would a meeting at work. With everyone being so busy from day to day, sometimes we're together but we are barely paying attention to each other or making a point to do something really fun or that helps us connect on a deeper level. We need to spend not just time together, but quality time. For it to be uninterrupted time, it's important to put the Blackberry and cell phone down for an hour. This is especially important over family dinners and business lunches/meetings. For our kids, that could mean eating dinner together at the table instead of in front of the TV. This gives you time to talk to your kids about their lives, feelings and what's going on in school. It could mean going on a date with your partner, whether it's a go out date or just some romantic time together at home. At work this could mean having lunch with a colleague or your manager who you want to get to know better or having a team building or off-site meeting with your coworkers.
As time goes by, at some point we often regret not working on or at least making an attempt to repair damaged relationships. Instead of writing off those people or situations, why not make a commitment this year to work on them. You can't control what the other person does, but you can control your approach. If you have a strained or estranged relationship with someone in your family or at work, now is the time to address it. You can start by making the first move of approaching the person, telling them how you feel about the situation, and why you want to fix it. It could be a spouse, child, sibling, best friend or colleague. You will feel great if you actually improve the relationship and you will feel better knowing that if nothing else, you tried.
Utilize technology to stay close and connected, but don't rely on it exclusively or allow it to replace face-to-face relationships. Social networking, texting, and e-mail are all great ways to stay connected with loved ones, especially when you are very busy or separated from them. However, using these technologies has become so popular that people often think that they are enough, but putting in good face time is still an important and necessary way to build and maintain close relationships both at home and at work.
Doing something nice for someone else actually improves our own personal well-being. Everyone around you could probably use a boost in some kind of way, so thinking of a nice way to help someone out or brighten someone's day could go a long way towards bringing you closer. It could mean calling someone far away who really needs a pick-me-up call or doing someone a favor that they hate to ask for. It might also mean letting your kids choose and prepare dinner or giving your spouse the day off from duties at home to rest or spend time with friends. No matter what you choose, it's all about taking the focus off of yourself and growing your relationship with someone else by putting them first.
Oftentimes we make our new year's resolutions all about ourselves or about the simple things we can do alone. But let's face it, our relationships make our world go round and we often take them for granted. This year, make nurturing your most important relationships a priority in your life and watch what a huge impact it has on your happiness and well-being. Happy New Year!
Follow Dr. Michelle Callahan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dr_michelle