Relationships and communication have been a part of human nature for hundreds of thousands of years. This is because social connectedness helps us gain a sense of identity and provide happiness—even for introverts. And believe it or not, social connectedness even benefits our physical health. Developing connections with others dramatically decreases the amount of stress cortisol in our body, decreases the amount of hardening in arteries that causes high blood pressure, decreases overall inflammation in the body, and benefits one’s executive functioning, learning abilities and memory.
Some small steps in becoming more socially connected can be as easy as showing appreciation for someone’s hard work or offering small, kind gestures. Nevertheless, the best way to positively impact social connectedness in college is to get involved in student clubs and organizations across campus. But once we start developing these relationships, how do we make sure that they’re healthy?
Healthy relationships are based around the following qualities:
- Mutual respect
- Good communication
- Separate Identities
- A sense of playfulness/fondness
Unfortunately, while many students build healthy, lasting relationships during their time in college, it is not uncommon for some to experience unhealthy relationships. In an unhealthy relationship, a person may experience physical, verbal or emotional abuse. This can come in the form of physical or sexual assault, manipulation, aggressive threats, constant criticizing or humiliation, financial control, or any other form of abuse.
If you suspect that a friend, or you, may involved in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please visit clemson.edu/interpersonal-violence and contact one of the resources listed.