Good relationships protect our mental health and wellbeing at any stage of life. People who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier and live longer.

Loneliness can be toxic to our wellbeing – our health declines earlier and we can have shorter lifespans. It’s important to remember that it is good, supportive relationships that protect our bodies and our minds.

This guide will outline what each of us can do to create better relationships with ourselves, with the people we are close to, and with those around us.

The guide focuses on:

  • the relationship you have with yourself
  • relationships with others, including couple relationships
  • relationships in community settings, such as school, university and workplace
  • online relationships
  • dealing with isolation
  • difficulties in building relationships
  • watching out for harmful relationships

Five universal tips for maintaining healthy relationships

Give time

Put more time aside to connect with friends and family.

Be present

It can be tempting to check your phone, Facebook messages or even work emails when with family and friends. Try to be present in the moment and be there for your loved ones, and switch out of work mode wherever possible.


Actively listen to what others are saying in a non-judgemental way and concentrate on their needs in that moment.

Be listened to

Share how you are feeling, honestly, and allow yourself to be listened and supported.

Recognise unhealthy relationships

Being around positive people can make us happier. Our wellbeing can be negatively affected by harmful relationships, however, leaving us unhappy. Recognising this can help us move forward and find solutions to issues.