We’re no strangers to conversations about health. After nearly 150 podcast episodes with amazing guests in the health and wellness space, we talk about it quite a bit. For many people, conversations about health and wellness involve deep dives into mental health, fitness, or nutrition.
But as TLC famously asked, what about your friends?
Social health can’t be left out of the conversation when it comes to well-being. In fact, your social health and the quality of your relationships can be one of the biggest determining factors of your physical and mental health.
On the podcast, we released a six-episode series all about relationships and connection to discuss ways we can improve this area of our lives for collective well-being. Let’s discuss why relationships are so important for your health and recap the series so you can take what you need from what you may have missed.
How Your Social Life Impacts Your Health
Having a strong sense of social support provides a myriad of benefits for your overall health. Those benefits include:
Research has shown the quality of social connections can be as influential to life expectancy as tobacco or alcohol consumption, and even more influential than a lack of exercise. In this particular study, those who had stronger social connections had a 50% increase in their likelihood of survival than those who had weaker social connections.
How is that possible?
By now many people are aware of the havoc stress can wreak on our bodies. It can compromise our immune system and put our bodies into a state of inflammation – none of which is ideal for longevity. It’s been cited that loneliness and isolation can trigger a stress response for people, contributing to negative health outcomes.
That’s pretty wild to think about, and that data makes conversations around social health and connection even more important to discuss than we realized.
We just covered how loneliness can elicit a stress response, but it’s worth understanding exactly what is happening in the body when we experience stress and how our relationships with others can help.
When humans encounter a stressful situation, our bodies release a high dose of the stress hormone cortisol. While cortisol has multiple important functions within the body, when we release too much cortisol for long periods of time (which can occur during prolonged periods of stress), our physical and mental health may be impacted in detrimental ways.
According to research, social support can act as a buffer for stress by helping our bodies keep our stress response in check. In fact, one study found those who put time into maintaining quality relationships experienced lower cortisol levels than those who didn’t.
Healthy Relationships and Connection Series
It’s worth noting the pandemic and social distancing efforts have made connection challenging, which is why we want to focus on ways we can stay connected and support one another as much as possible. Health and well-being for our community is our thing, and meaningful connections are an irreplaceable factor in our health. That’s why we wanted to dive into conversations and behaviors that can help us all foster deeper connections within ourselves and one another.
Let’s review the highlights of the relationships and connection series from the podcast.
Most Downloaded Episode
The most downloaded episode of the series (and of Balanced Black Girl Podcast to date 🤯) was the first episode of the series, How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Yourself.
Can’t lie, I was surprised at how well this episode did but I’m so glad it resonated with so many of you. Over the past year, I’ve shifted more of my focus on my personal relationships after spending a decade as a workaholic, and I found my connections with others were heavily influenced by how I connected with myself.
When I treated myself with kindness and compassion, that was the case for my relationships. When I stopped seeing myself as a project that needed to be fixed, my relationships no longer felt like projects that needed to be fixed. Our relationships with ourselves can be great teachers, and this episode explores ways we can connect with ourselves to deepen our connections with others.
Most Downloaded Interview
Honesty moment: interviews are my favorite. While I appreciate when you all enjoy the solo episodes, from a creative standpoint, talking to amazing Black and brown women I admire is my favorite part of this whole operation.
And when I think about interviews I’ve done for the podcast that were just plain fun the crossover episode about maintaining healthy friendships with Brittany and Germani of the Black Girl Bravado immediately comes to mind.
In this episode, Brittany and Germani share their friendship history with us and discuss ways to keep healthy communication front and center in your friendships, particularly as you evolve, grow, and change. A must-listen for anyone looking to give their friendships a little TLC (no pun intended).
Most Shared Episode
When I sat down to interview Tiffany Hall for the How to Overcome People-Pleasing Behaviors episode, I just knew she was going to get me and anyone who listened to the episode all the way together. And she did indeed.
As soon as this episode dropped, we were getting tagged on Instagram left and right with so many of our amazing listeners sharing the episode and expressing their gratitude for Tiffany’s expertise when it comes to people-pleasing. I couldn’t agree more, and am so glad we got to have this important conversation on the show.
If you’ve found yourself falling into a cycle of people-pleasing, take a deep breath, release any feelings of shame or judgment, and go ahead and listen to the episode and follow Tiffany’s work. It’s okay to fill your own cup again.
Our episode on inner child work with Mari Roberts was also a top contender for the most downloaded interviews, and for good reason. Spirituality and intuition can be a major part of healthy connections, and the state of our inner child can greatly impact how we connect with others.
And we can’t forget about professional relationships. Though networking is something many people don’t love there’s no denying the importance of having strong professional bonds for support and growth. Our conversation with Tiffany Dufu on how to strengthen our professional relationships and the importance of asking for help is a great listen for everyone.
Thank you for your love and support of this series and our incredible guests. If you had a chance to tune in, which episode resonated most with you?