Relationships & Connections Archive


Sowing the seeds of better health

About one in three Americans engages in gardening, and the activity became even more popular during the COVID pandemic. Research suggests gardening provides many physical and mental health benefits. It can boost movement, improve diet, fight illness, smooth mood, sharpen brain function, and strengthen social bonds. Gardeners should wear a hat and apply sunscreen to protect against sun exposure. They should also wear gloves to create a barrier against skin allergens on plants and bacteria or fungi in potting soil mixes.

Invisible illness: More than meets the eye

Invisible illnesses, meaning those that aren't obvious to other people, affect an estimated 10% of the 61 million Americans who have a physical or mental condition that limits their movement or senses. Some people fear disclosing their invisible illness will make them seem incapable or entitled, but keeping illness secret can lead to isolation. People who decide to disclose their hidden illness should keep descriptions simple, point others toward reputable information, tell people how the illness limits them, and seek support.

Helping children who are neurodiverse build friendships

Children with neurodevelopmental conditions like autism spectrum, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities may need extra support in building friendships and participating in social activities. Parents and other adults can help children develop their social and emotional skills.

The buddy system

Loneliness is one of the greatest health risks facing older adults. The antidote to loneliness is more social engagement. Developing new friendships and maintaining existing ones is one of the best ways for people to remain socially active. Recreating the environments and settings where men first built long-lasting friendships, like the workplace and sports, can help them find friends and expand their social circle.

Can varied social interactions boost well-being?

A 2022 study suggested that having diverse social interactions is linked to improved happiness and well-being. In other words, it appears to be helpful to interact with family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers; the more varied the interactions are, the better.

Why play? Early games build bonds and brain

More than a million nerve connections are made in the brain in the first few years of life. Babies and young children thrive with responsive caregiving, such as engaging a child in playful games that change as they grow.

You don't say? The smell of love

Pheromones, the "love chemical," are produced by many animals and insects to attract the opposite sex. It's possible that humans also may make and process pheromones through vomeronasal organs in our noses.

Finding a higher meaning

As people age, they are more likely to explore a religious or spiritual practice. Research has found that this type of engagement is linked to longer life and a lower risk of serious health issues. These practices also can offer comfort and support if and when a person needs to navigate difficult times.

Holiday arguments brewing? Here's how to defuse them

The holidays are supposed to be filled with love, laughter, and good cheer. Unfortunately, joyous celebration often deteriorates into discord when family and friends gather during the season. But you don't have to get drawn into arguments if you plan ahead and stay alert for potential triggers.

A life-changing detour

Each year, millions of couples face one partner's serious diagnosis with a condition such as cancer, heart or kidney failure, or neurological illness, among others. People can support their partners through a difficult diagnosis and treatment by keeping communication open, maintaining daily routines, becoming informed about the medical condition, attending doctor visits, adding assistive devices in their home, getting wills and other legal documents in order, and seeking and accepting help from others.

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