How and Why You Should Maintain Friendships

social support with emotional friends
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Friends add a wonderful dimension to our lives: they help us celebrate the good times, and they help us make it through the tough times. Having a strong, supportive social network has been associated with lower levels of stress, increased longevity, and greater levels of happiness.

Unfortunately, conflicted relationships can bring significant amounts of stress to our lives, and the stress can be ongoing. Learning how to minimize that type of stress while maintaining as much closeness as possible can be difficult, but dealing with volatile relationships can be even more difficult. Therefore, time spent focusing on how to maximize the positive aspects of your relationships and minimizing the toll of the conflict is time well spent.

The following resources can help you to build stronger support systems among your friendship group and minimize the stress you experience from unnecessary "drama." 

How to Create Supportive Relationships

All social support is not created equal. Here is what you need to know to create mutually supportive, enduring, truly healthy friendships that will bring you support, the opportunity for personal growth, and stress management benefits. Find out why it's important to develop listening skills, your intuition, assertiveness, and other skills that can pay off with increased social support, healthy friendships, and a sense of belonging.

How to Cultivate a Supportive Circle of Friends

Numerous research studies have shown that supportive friendships can provide emotional help during stressful times and even improve our health and increase longevity. Learn the numerous stress management and health benefits a circle of friends provides, and discover how to begin expanding your number of supportive friendships.

Assertive Communication

Assertiveness is a skill that not only helps with marriage and interpersonal relationships but all of your relationships. It can reduce stress and help you attain more balance at home, at work, and in life. Assertiveness establishes healthy boundaries and reduces stress for everyone. Learn more about assertiveness, aggressiveness, and passivity, and see how assertiveness training can improve your life. 

The key to assertiveness isn't to assert your rights more, but rather to assert your rights in a non-timid but non-aggressive way that shows respect for yourself as well as the other person.

Letting Go of Relationships That Stress You

Letting go of a relationship is never easy. We gain so much from friends and loved ones, that we often hold onto relationships that are no longer good for us out of habit or loyalty.

Read why negative relationships can actually harm you, and find a step-by-step plan to help you decide where to draw the line in letting go of a relationship that is no longer good for you.

How to Improve Your Relationships With Healthy Communication

Social support is a great stress reliever, but relationships can also be a major source of stress. Conflict within a relationship can create emotional stress as well as new obstacles and challenges to deal with in your life if conflict within a relationship spreads to create conflict in several relationships or within a group. As conflict is virtually inevitable in any relationship, here are ten important tips on managing conflict in a respectful way that yields positive results, rather than damaging your connection and causing additional stress.

The Ten Worst Ways to Handle Conflict

Conventional wisdom (and research) says that good communication can improve relationships, increasing intimacy, trust, and support. The converse is also true: poor communication can weaken bonds, creating mistrust and even contempt! Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can really mess up a relationship. How many of these sound like something you’d do?

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.