How intimacy affects our health

Humans are naturally social animals — we have evolved to form close relationships and build communities because when we work together in numbers, we have a better chance of survival. As a result, our brains are connected to find happiness and security in a variety of intimate relationships.

Today, close relationships are important to our overall health.

Whether you currently have a significant other in your life, remember that intimate relationships take many forms. While it is beneficial to have a romantic or sexually intimate partner when there is a feeling of trust and security, for many, the social and emotional bonds provided by non-sexual relationships are equally important for emotional and social well-being.

This article describes the role of intimacy from a health and wellness perspective and summarizes research into how intimacy or lack thereof affects human health.

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Intimacy and social life as pillars of health and wellness

Intimacy and social life are essential to the health and well-being of individuals, partnerships, and communities. The World Health Organization Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease or weakness.” Intimate relationships and social networks are essential for social well-being.

Wellness is often well understood as a process rather than a state, but it also includes social and interpersonal wellness as a central aspect. More specifically, wellness is an active process by which people become more aware, and choose to have a more satisfying existence.

One of them Seven levels of wellness Interpersonal and social well-being. Social and interpersonal well-being “Your daily interactions with others reflect their quality and personal social skills. This level of well-being also addresses people’s desire for ownership and community contribution.”

Some of the qualities and behaviors associated with interpersonal well-being include:

  • Communication skills
  • An ability for intimacy
  • Ability to establish and maintain satisfactory relationships
  • Ability to cultivate a support system of friends and family

The above definition and related qualities highlight that intimacy and encouraging social life is about building the ability to be intimate and actively contributing to the vitality of social networks and communities.

Different types of intimacy

Intimacy often refers to images of romantic relationships, but it also occurs in the case of close friendships and family relationships. There are four basic types of intimacy, and the feeling of being in a socially positive place is often with people with whom you can feel different kinds of intimacy, but not necessarily at the same time. You may also experience different types of intimacy with the same person, which often happens in romantic relationships.

There are four basic types of intimacy:

  • Experiential intimacy: When people bond during leisure activities or hobbies. This often happens with friends who meet for an activity they enjoy or form bonds during teamwork. It can also refer to when people associate similar past experiences, such as growing up in the same city or similar experiences. Childhood experience.
  • Mental intimacy: When people feel safe sharing all kinds of feelings with each other and even talking through them
  • Intellectual intimacy: People feel comfortable sharing and discussing ideas and opinions even when they disagree.
  • Sexual intimacy: When people engage in sensual or sexual activity

How intimacy affects our health and well-being

In the study conducted by Stadler et al. The team hired 82 committed couples to report common signs of physical intimacy felt throughout the day. They have found that intimate relationships affect health in daily life.

The team also reviewed research on the effects of close relationships on health in daily life. Some of the results are summarized below.

Heart health

Intimate relationships, such as marital relationships, close friendships, and social support groups and families, all affect symptoms related to heart disease. Below are some of the research findings:

  • A greater frequency of daily interpersonal stress (the stress you feel as a result of communicating or thinking about another person) was associated with high levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory indicator. Heart health.
  • During social interactions, people with low blood pressure are more likely to have low blood pressure.
  • Adolescents who show a tendency to avoid intimacy raise blood pressure in response to social conflict.
  • Larger social interactions with one partner were associated with lower ambulatory blood pressure than social interactions with other individuals.
  • People on larger social networks had lower blood pressure.
  • High-quality married couples have lower blood pressure than unmarried couples and low-quality married couples have lower blood pressure. However, unmarried individuals had lower blood pressure than married couples in low-quality relationships.
  • People had lower blood pressure after attending a training to increase couple communication than before.
  • Regular interactions with family members and wives were associated with low blood pressure.
  • Men with better marital coordination and more frequent marital interactions were associated with lower atherosclerosis markers.
  • Women with more frequent social interactions were associated with lower atherosclerosis markers.

Brain and mental health

The studies mentioned here evaluate neuroendocrine processes, which involve hormones that affect cognitive processes such as mood, emotion and thinking and concentration. Below are the searches.

  • The high average cortisol feeling of loneliness / sadness / overwhelmedness was associated with arousal response; Feeling more lonely / sad / overwhelmed than the previous day was associated with higher cortisol awakening response the next day.
  • Positive relationship efficacy was associated with higher morning cortisol levels, which affect productivity and energy, and a sharp drop in cortisol throughout the day, which encourages rest and sleep.
  • Intimacy in daily life was associated with decreased saliva cortisol secretion, which is a measure of stress.
  • Its higher level Long-term loneliness There were high pressure response and pressure markers.
  • Those who took part in the “Couple Contact Enhancement” intervention had higher saliva oxytocin levels. Oxytocin A hormone associated with feelings of love, emotional investment, and long-term connection.
  • For each additional hour of work done by a person or his partner, the total cortisol concentration of the person (an indicator of stress) increases and decreases with each hour of the partner’s housework.
  • A greater quality of social support was associated with lower cortisol concentration.

Sleepiness, pain, and other symptoms

Below are just a few studies (also called somatic symptoms) focusing on the effects of intimacy on sleep, pain and disease-related symptoms such as headache, rash, digestive symptoms, weakness and increased heart rate.

  • Women, but not men, who report higher-quality and more meaningful social interactions, are less likely LonelinessAnd the fear of a negative assessment also reported less daily somatic symptoms.
  • Wives, but not husbands, with higher satisfaction, reported fewer daily symptoms.
  • Lonely person People who did not feel lonely had less sleep skills and woke up longer after they started sleeping.
  • Women sleep better at night when they feel less negative interaction with their partners during the day.
  • Men sleep better at night when their partners mention an increase in positive interactions that day.
  • Osteoarthritis patients who seek emotional support one day experience less pain the next day.
  • In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, daily satisfaction with their spouse helps reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed and helpless when dealing with pain and helps protect against the harmful effects of pain.

Main Takeaways

Intimacy is often seen as a purely romantic experience. However, intimacy takes many forms and is experienced in any intimate relationship. The four types of intimacy are empirical intimacy, such as what you can share with a friend you meet at a book club; Emotional intimacy, such as what you might feel with someone who you think will not judge you when you talk about how you are feeling; Intellectual intimacy, such as you can share with a business partner; And sexual intimacy, which you share with a sexual partner.

Intimacy is an important element of social and interpersonal health. It is also essential for your physical health. Healthy intimate relationships can help improve cardiovascular health, mental health and sleep.

For healthy social and interpersonal well-being, it is important to develop the ability to engage in intimate relationships, which means being willing and willing to accept what others want to contribute to the relationship.

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