I know I blab all the time about the importance of: (1) proper nutrition, (2) exercise, and (3) sleep/stress management to our health, but there is something else that is key: relationships.
Humans are social beings. Babies cannot thrive without touch and stimulation, children need secure attachments with caregivers, and few adults can live without social support from others.
In fact, research studies have found that while an unhealthy marriage or union is associated with chronic illness, and can shave years off your life, a healthy one promotes health and longevity.
But romantic/love relationships are not the only important ones. Friendships are key too.
Research has also found that social support is a key factor in recovery from a variety of physical and mental health challenges, and perceptions of available social support affect how we cope with stressors.
Unfortunately, we often find ourselves caught up in friendships that do us more harm than good. You know, the folks who are really our "frenemies", or what my friend Alex calls: Vampires, because you feel like they've sucked the life out of you when you've spent time with them.
Characteristics of Vampires are people who are:
* Competitive, jealous, and/or have an agenda
* Takers and never givers
* All about themselves, never ask about you
* Full of back-handed compliments/snide remarks/insults
You've probably had a Vampire or two in your life, most of us have. While I undoubtedly had my fair share of dufus boyfriends before I hooked up with Adam, it is toxic relationships with women that I feel left the deepest scars on me.
Fortunately, as I have gotten older, I have become more confident, and less willing to tolerate these types of people. Life is too short, and so I want to spend every minute I can with Sunbeams, not Vampires!
Sunbeams are the opposite of Vampires, people in our lives who make us feel warm, safe and energized. You don't even need tons of Sunbeams in your life. Quality is far more important than quantity.
I am blessed to have lots of Sunbeams in my life. Some are family, many are friends. Having these people in my life are just as important as working out, eating vegetables, and sleeping well. They are integral to my physical and emotional well-being. This is why even the ones who now live far away (Emily, Annette, Jan, I'm talking about you!!), ones I only know online (hello HA folks!), or the ones I don't see as often as I'd like (pretty much all my lovelies in Toronto!), each and every one will always be important and special people to me.
If you make one resolution for 2012, make it be to lose the Vampires and recognize the Sunbeams in your life. And Sunbeams aren't always family members and close friends. Sometimes it's the barista at the local coffee store that always remembers your order, or your babysitter, or the mailman. Look around and I promise you, even if you feel like you are surrounded by Vampires, there is bound to be at least one Sunbeam in your life.
Merry Christmas to all those celebrating!