Top tips on building and maintaining healthy relationships

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an important part of looking after our mental health. Here are 6 top tips to support you with yours.

1. Get to know yourself

Take the time to appreciate yourself and get in touch with your emotions to be able to express yourself clearly and more effectively. 

Not knowing how to regulate your emotions and express them healthily can negatively affect your mental wellbeing.

2. Put in the work 

Healthy relationships are not found but built.

A healthy relationship needs commitment and willingness to be accommodating to each other’s needs.

Healthy Relationships - Top Tips

3. Set and respect boundaries

Setting boundaries is not only about what you don’t want or like in your relationships, but also about letting the people around you know what you appreciate. 

Think about and let others know where your boundaries are; respecting your time alone for example.

Doing this can take the pressure off your relationship to commit to anything unrealistic.

4. Talk and Listen 

All relationships have disagreements and that’s ok. what matters is how you talk and listen to one another.

Listen to understand, rather than listening to respond.

Don’t be afraid to express your emotions or vulnerabilities with people you trust.

5. Let go of control

A lot of life is about how we react to our experiences and encounters. Knowing that you can only really control what you do and not what anyone else does will save you time and stress. 

6. Reflect and learn

If you have a healthy way of expressing your feelings, you’re able to react to other people’s in a healthy way. Being angry with someone often comes from a place of feeling hurt and upset. if you can recognise that, you can communicate it, and build better relationships with others.

Reflect on the relationships that work best in your life, what qualities do these relationships have, and how can you bring these qualities into other relationships?

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Advice on building and maintaining healthy relationships from our young leaders

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an important part of looking after our mental health and isn’t always easy. The MHF Young Leaders have shared their thoughts on what makes a healthy relationship, how to recognise and maintain one.

Recognising a healthy relationship

The young leaders felt all healthy relationships should be based on; 

  • respect
  • communication
  • boundaries
  • honesty
  • trust
Graphic with top tips to maintain healthy relationships

These qualities can be recognised in the way a relationship makes you feel. The Young Leaders shared their thoughts on the green flags, the positive signs, your relationship is healthy:

  • "Everyone feels safe and that their boundaries are respected” 
  • “Recognising that differences are inevitable, but being able to talk about them” 
  • “Feeling as though you can be who you want to be” 
  • “Not having to cover up bits of yourself or personality to sustain the relationship” 
  • “Letting someone know how you feel without them having to dig”

Managing conflict in relationships

Relationships aren’t always easy and you will sometimes meet conflict.

Difficult conversations may make us feel uncomfortable but the young leaders stressed the importance of being able to talk to friends, family and romantic partners about these things, it may even strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Graphic of people holding a green flag, for healthy relationships

A good starting place is to let the other person know in advance that you want to talk. It helps if you both have time to prepare.

Once you do start talking if a comment upsets you, try and take a break, pause the conversation, and come back when you feel ready.  

And remember, it is okay for you to put boundaries in place, to say ‘no’ when you’re not comfortable and to walk away if the relationship does not feel right to you.  

Sentence starters for difficult conversations

  • When you say ____, it makes me feel ____.
  • I think we have different views on ____. I'd like to hear your perspective.
  • Can we talk about ____? I want to hear your feelings about this and share my feelings too.
Graphic about approaching a difficult conversation with your partner