Olivia Newport Hawaii sunset

Photo by Lorri Nussbaum www.keeperscards.com

Can you friends make you sick?

Frankly, I think the answer is yes. Not friends exclusively. It may be coworkers who cause stress. It may be neighbors you don’t know how to communicate with. It may be your family—people you love and would give your life for—who are driving your blood pressure up.

Most of us have the option of letting friendships fall away if they become unhealthy. We can evaluate whether it’s a relationship worth fighting for, or if it one that has reached the end of its season because it no longer nourishes us or brings us joy.

We may feel we have fewer alternatives about jobs, so we work for that toxic boss even when we hate to go to work and become too depressed to care about anything else, either.

Psychologists have been studying this question of relationships and health for a long time, and most research shows that relationships have effects on our health both in the short term and over longer periods of time.

Physical health. Spiritual health. Emotional health. Relational health. If you pull on one thread, you pull on them all. Negative experiences in close relationships show up in wear and tear in your body, and you end up in the doctor’s office. So yes, your friends can make you sick.

But friends and family can also be some of the best guardians of your health. They can make you feel secure. They can make you feel loved. They can make you laugh. They can cry with you. They share the nourishment of good food with you. They can remind you of what is true. They can make you strong.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let Carole King tell you. You’ve got a friend.

Your blood pressure goes down. You do less stress eating. You’re more likely to get out and move. You sleep more soundly. You connect to God. You maintain better cognitive and creative function.

I know who these people are in my life—and they know how much they mean to me and what they do for me. I make sure to tell them. I could not be whole without people like this in my life.

So who are the people in your life who help you move forward toward God’s idea of health and wellness? Today is an excellent day to make sure they know how much you believe they contribute to your health. Who will you tell?