6 ways you can improve your relationships

Endeavouring to improve your relationships – be it with friends, a romantic partner or family members? There are a number of things you can do to get there, but it requires a little work.

Unsurprisingly, lots of research says that people who form strong and satisfying relationships with those around them are happier overall, have less health problems – and even live longer.

And on the flip side, a lack of bonds can be bad for your health. One study found that this can increase the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%, which is similar to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

It’s evident that strengthening all of our relationships is worth it on all accounts – so, how can you get there?

Simple ways to improve your relationships

Be honest

Honesty is of utmost importance and also says a lot about your character. In fact, research says that how honest someone is can affect the longevity of a relationship.

Don’t moan about your family member, friend, or partner to other people behind their backs. Instead, consider whether what’s bothering you is a ‘you-problem’ or a ‘them-problem’. And, if you decide to raise it with them, do so constructively and bear in mind that they might have some feedback for you too. Nobody is perfect, after all.

Plus, gossiping about other people may make those listening to your words distrust you and want to share less with you, further weakening those bonds too.

Set boundaries

Learning how to set and build boundaries with your loved ones – including how to say ‘no’ to things you just don’t want to do – can help you to solidify your relationships.

Whether it’s declining a social invite or asking for some space, being honest can ensure you’re not setting those around you up for disappointment.

While there are some commitments we just can’t get out of, doing the things you actually want to do and make you happy will in turn make you more present and enjoyable to be around.

Don’t judge

It’s important to be a sounding board for your friends’ and family’s problems. But, try not to judge the issues that they are sharing with you, however you might feel about them.

Instead, be there to listen and share supportive advice in return, without making them feel worse about whatever they’re going through.

Experts say that sharing your own problems in return helps to show vulnerability and deepen your relationships, so it’s worth opening up yourself too.

Practice self-care

Carving time out of your day-to-day to practice self-care can help you to be the best, most compassionate version of yourself.

Whether you squeeze in five minutes of alone-time with your favourite herbal tea or make a luxurious bubble bath your Sunday afternoon ritual, experts say that taking a little time away from your loved-ones can allow you to recharge.

In turn, you’ll be more patient, loving and understanding of those around you, making for better relationships.

Stay in touch with people

While some relationships can go for long periods with little communication and can pick up where they left off, The Mental Health Foundation says that staying in regular touch with your loved ones can help you both deal with the stresses of life.

Face-to-face communication is usually better, but recent times have taught us how we can easily stay in touch virtually, so drop your friend a text or pick up the phone for a call.

Remember though, don’t write off a friendship if you don’t hear back right away as you don’t always know what people are going through.

Show them that you care

You don’t need to buy expensive gifts or make lavish gestures to show your loved-ones that you care about them.

Small gestures, such as sending someone a text when you were reminded of them, taking a few chores off your partner’s to-do list or cooking them their favourite dish can really show someone that you care – and listen to them.

According to charity Be There, ‘Everything you do and say is a little clue to the people around you as to how approachable and trustworthy you are.

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