Throughout the year, I was fortunate enough to take part in some of the Gondwana Care Trust projects and the realities of life once again struck me - this includes the good and the bad. We all look forward to spending some quality time with the people we love, but what about the people who have lost a loved one this year, someone who sits alone in their home, people who cannot travel to loved ones that are abroad or far away and families who cannot put food on the table?
After helping struggling elders while giving out meals and Christmas baskets, I realized how fortunate I am to have people I love to come home to, to talk to, to laugh with and most importantly to make memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. While excited to spend time with my family, I wondered why I always feel energized and ready for the next year after a December vacation at the coast with my family. Turns out, that there are some health benefits associated with spending time with loved ones.
Five benefits of spending time with the people you love:
1. It helps develop social skills
We all know that being with family can be fun, but boy can it be long! A December holiday can truly not be completed without a bit of conflict. This is why spending time with people you love for a long time - or in my case, more than 3 days - can teach one some conflict resolution skills. This is also a time you learn to adapt and take others feelings into consideration, making you grow as an individual.
2. Physical Health Benefits
Being around family can promote behavior and activities that you would not normally do on your own, this includes physical activities such as volleyball and walks along the beach and even to eat well-balanced meals instead of a greasy take-away.
Being around family and friends can help us deal and lower stress in a healthy way steering clear of high blood pressure and heart problems. A published study by Annals of Behavioral Medicine actually showed that individuals who discuss their difficult times with friends or loved ones have a lower pulse and blood pressure.
3. Mental Health benefits
We all know having a support system that you can trust, whether this is friends or family, is very important and can help reduce depression, anxiety, and any other mental health problem. Having a healthy and strong relationship with loved ones gives us a sense of meaning and belonging and ultimately boosts our self-confidence.
4. It shapes future generations
Spending time with family and friends is not only beneficial to adults, but also to children. While spending a December holiday with loved ones and children can somewhat test your patience, children actually have a lowered risk of behavioral issues when positive behavior is rewarded with positive feedback.
Memories of a happy time with friends and family can instill a desire for them to do the same with their families, therefore spend that time with the young ones and create traditions that can be passed along for generations.
5. It could make you live longerYes, I know some people may differ from me, especially at day 10 of their holiday or whilst driving 4 hours to their next destination with kids in the car, but spending time with loved ones can better cognitive functions and a lower allostatic load according to an article in the American Society of Aging.
Well, it seems as if I all have a bit of catching up to do on the loved ones department after doing this research especially if one takes into account that we are getting older, our loved ones may not be there forever and we may not be financially able to enjoy the things we do in the future.
I don’t know what your new year's resolutions are, but mine is to be the person, of whom other people feel that I make a positive difference in their life; and being the reason, they smile and feel better for the year to come. I can do this by contributing to the MealforTwo project or buying a Back-to-School Christmas bag for a 2023 pupil.