Who you hang out with will directly affect your health.
This past week in my Healing Next coaching program, we studied the impact of a major risk factor to our health and well-being, and we were all surprised by how little thought we give this on a daily basis.
What am I talking about?
Poor sleep? Low energy food? Lack of movement?
No, it’s simply the fact that who you hang out with will directly affect your health.
Happy friends = happier you!
Healthy friends = healthier you!
Vibrant friends = more vibrant you!
Maybe this sounds obvious, and you’re thinking, Jill, you really didn’t know that it matters who you hang out with?! Well, I knew it mattered, but I had never known the solid science showing that inadequate social relationships put our very survival at risk even more than do obesity, physical inactivity, and many well-known risk factors.¹
In fact, when it comes to survival, good social relationships are comparable to quitting smoking!²
You might want to read that again.
Yes, your relationships are as important as not smoking and other well-established risk factors. Did your doctor ever discuss that with you? Probably not, because it is simply not well-known yet. Social stress is the most underexposed risk factor in health today for chronic disease onset! This impacts us:
For those of us who are in recovery from alcohol use disorder (or substance use disorder), this issue is critical to understand. It’s in our best interest to shield ourselves from all unhealthy relationships and preventable social stress.
There is a copious amount of research with a clear and consistent take-home message: The quality of your health is directly related to who you spend your time with.
What happens physically?
Social stress acts as a virus in the body causing an inflammatory response. The body actually responds as if it’s being attacked, and over time these inflammatory markers will contribute to chronic illness. In addition, there are data suggesting social stress causes a suppression of the immune system, so over time this can lead to immune system challenges.
What happens emotionally?
Emotional states are contagious—literally, because your heart’s electromagnetic field synchronizes with those around you, as shown by research done by HeartMath Institute.³ This directly influences your emotions. A person’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. Happiness, like health, is a collective phenomenon.
In fact, the prestigious British Medical Journal (The BMJ) concluded the following:
“People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.”4
What happens energetically?
Because your heart’s electromagnetic field synchronizes with those around it, your energy will also follow suit. So be warned: People with low energy will literally zap your energy, even if they don’t mean to. Over time, this can ultimately lead to a compromised heart rate variability, (HRV), a measurement indicating the overall health and vitality of the body.
What to Do Now that You Know
Detox your relationships! Just the way we detoxify our bodies, we must approach our family and social life in the same way. This means putting your recovery first. If you are unclear, ask yourself: Is my spending time with this person helping my recovery?
Simply limit time or, ideally, completely remove your proximity from people who are:
- Pathological narcissists
- Verbally and/or emotionally abusive
- Physically and/or sexually abusive
Also limit time with people who are:
- Very sick
- Very unhappy
- Mentally ill
- Toxic or have conflictual relationships
Furthermore, it’s helpful to limit or avoid altogether people who deplete your energy in any way. Examples include those who: complain, criticize, evoke guilt/shame, gossip, or tend to have extreme emotional reactions.
Doing a media detox is also critical, unless you happen to be the rare unicorn who isn’t on social media and doesn’t watch the news or any TV! A media detox includes eliminating all disturbing news and entertainment from your environment. By doing this, you are literally shielding yourself from these high-risk toxins—keeping your consciousness and body high vibration!
To significantly reduce the mental “noise pollution” technology brings, consider the following ideas:
- Avoid violence with all forms of media.
- Limit social media to 30 minutes per day.
- Reduce or eliminate news-checking.
- Check email or other communication tools on a scheduled basis.
- Recognize social-media drama, and do not perpetuate it.
On the other hand, have funny, joyful, inspirational, and uplifting media sources available as needed.
Just as important as ridding your life of negativity (to the best of your ability) is filling your life with the new energy, health, and consciousness you want to personally experience. So, find your new tribe! Be with people who have similar goals and core values, and those who take care of their physical and emotional health. You can join programs, take local classes, join a spiritual community if that resonates with you, and even rekindle old relationships.
Think of attributes of people you admire, and then invite people with these characteristics into your life.
If you don’t have access to such people “in real life” yet, it’s okay! It can take time to shift something so big. It will be worth the wait! In the meantime, watch videos of heart-centered, healthy people who inspire you. Your innate tendency will be to mimic them, and as they uplift your spirit and inspire you, your heart’s electromagnetic field will resonate. After all, “energy flows where attention goes.” (Tony Robbins)
I hope your takeaway from this is not only the importance of protecting your recovery and your health by choosing to surround yourself with high-vibration energies, but also a feeling of empowerment, because this is something you can control that has scientifically proven health outcomes.
So stay strong, Humble Warrior Women!
From my heart to yours,
- Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, and J. Bradley Layton, “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review,” PLOS Medicine (July 2020), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316.
- “Each Individual Impacts the Field Environment,” HeartMath Institute (September 2009), https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/global-interconnectedness/each-individual-impacts-the-field-environment/.
- BMJ 2008;337:a2338, doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2338.