10 important relationships to cultivate in your lifetime

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Even in our modern age of cell phones and social media, maintaining relationships over the years - and even decades - is still hard work. The effort is worth it, though, as relationships are vital to our mental, emotional and even physical health. In particular, there are 10 types of relationships that are crucial to build and sustain that will help you lead a happy life.

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Family

Whether they're biological or chosen, your family is your support system. Although they can be sources of stress due to the responsibilities and expectations of being part of one, even the conflicts and annoyances that come from these authentic, close relationships can positively challenge us and provide opportunities for personal growth. And at the end of the day, a family unit provides emotional support, love, a sense of belonging, security and protection, among other benefits.

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Partners

Human beings are a social species. We crave intimate relationships, and even though romantic relationships are not the only - or even necessarily the most important - relationships, a romantic partnership is a key relationship for many people, and it can have a profound influence on their well-being. Being in a healthy, committed relationship actually decreases stress and depression while increasing your lifespan and your body's ability to heal, according to Northwestern Medicine.

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Friends

Friendships can have just as much of an impact on you as your romantic relationships - if not more. Maintaining close friendships with others striving for a healthy lifestyle helps encourage and reinforce behaviors like exercising in your own life. Real-life social relationships are healthy in other ways, too; loneliness is actually a growing health epidemic. One recent report from the health insurer Cigna pointed out that being lonely has the same effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Conversely, putting time and effort into maintaining and nurturing close friendships has been linked to a longer, happier life.

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Neighbors

There is value in knowing the people living around you, even if it's just so they can check your mail while you're out of town. Getting to know your neighbors will increase the respect you have for each other's space and property, help increase area safety and create a healthy sense of community. It allows you to collaborate on beneficial neighborhood projects and events such as block parties, yard sales or a community garden.

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Colleagues

While the culture of each workplace is different, getting to know who your coworkers are outside of work can lead to personal and professional benefits. Research shows that building relationships at work eases stress, reduces job turnover and increases respect, trust and teamwork. This leads to higher job satisfaction, productivity and job commitment.

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Peers

Beyond getting to know people who you directly work with, it's important to cultivate relationships with other individuals in your field or line of work. Networking with other professionals, even competitors, can allow you to form connections that could create opportunities or help you learn.

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Mentors

Many top business leaders credit having the guidance and support of a mentor as a key to their success. Mentors can help you identify and achieve career goals as well as your strengths and weaknesses. This can lead to increases in confidence, job skills and salary. A mentor can push you and give you the tools to negotiate better pay, ask for a promotion or consider new job opportunities. Newbies to the workforce aren't the only ones who can benefit from mentorship - you're never too experienced to learn from others.

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Mentees

Once you're in a position to offer advice to others, consider investing in the next generation because it can also lead to benefits for you. Taking on a mentee will allow you to understand the perspective of younger professionals in your field and hone your leadership and communication skills, and it can help boost the talent within your team, organization or industry.

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Enemies

Holding onto grudges or bitter feelings toward a rival, enemy or former friend is actually bad for your health. Forgiveness can lead to stronger relationships, improved mental health and a stronger immune system and reduce pain, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean reconciling with the person who has hurt you - which isn't always helpful or possible - but rather is a process of internally working through what happened.

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Yourself

The one person you'll spend your entire life in a relationship with is yourself. Loving, accepting and putting time into working on yourself is crucial for your well-being. Having a strong relationship with yourself can also help you to be a better friend, spouse, sibling, co-worker and more. Spending time alone with yourself can boost creativity, productivity and concentration, and studies have shown adequate alone time can increase happiness, life satisfaction and stress management skills. Spending time alone and unplugging are just two of the ways you can live a more peaceful life.

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