It’s the time of year when we’re often spending time with family. And after the last year and a half, most of us are pretty thankful for that—especially given the hit that many of our relationships received!
And while it will be great to share food, laughter, and memories once again, did you know that spending time with family offers some pretty incredible health benefits?
Let’s talk more about the benefits of spending time with family, and get some creative ideas for fun with the family!
Why We Need to Focus on Spending Time With Family
It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused us all to sacrifice a lot, including our own mental health, certain experiences, and financial independence. But perhaps the greatest sacrifice has been our ability to spend time and connect with those we love.
According to a survey completed in August 2020, 41 percent of respondents reported that their personal relationships were negatively impacted at the height of the pandemic.  It was the most common response received.
If you think about it for a moment, it’s really no surprise that it’s weighing so heavily on us all—especially given the fact that we were created to be social creatures. In fact, studies have shown that loneliness can negatively impact your health.
The good news is that now we know more about mitigation steps, and we can now begin to focus on regaining those connections that are so important. This is why now is the perfect time to focus on spending time with family and close friends.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of prioritizing the ability to reconnect with your loved ones.
3 Benefits of Spending Time With Family
Here are a few of the top benefits of spending time with family.
1. Improved physical health
By spending time with family, not only will you feel better and more connected to those you love, but studies have shown that people with solid support systems live longer lives. 
Interestingly, researchers have found that being surrounded by those you love can help improve your health by providing a buffer to stressful situations, which, in turn, can help to decrease your risk of stress-induced health conditions.
These conditions include everything from diabetes and heart disease to insomnia and IBS.
2. Better self-confidence
Believe it or not, spending time with family can also boost your self-confidence and decrease your likelihood of experiencing mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.
According to a decade-long study on about 5,000 participants, those who reported having the highest quality social relationships had the lowest risk of developing major depression, while, those who had the lowest quality relationships had the highest risk. 
If you really think about it, it makes sense: If you have a close family system, there’s no better source of validation—and this reinforces feeling love and supported, which not only support self-confidence but also can directly counteract depression and anxiety.
3. More open communication
Sometimes it can feel difficult to open up to and even understand the viewpoint of those we love most. But when you focus on spending time with family, it can become easier to open the lines of communication and foster healthy relationships.
As you begin spending time with your family this holiday season, remember that good communication begins with listening. When you show genuine interest in what others have to say, they feel validated, which can help you and your family have more open communication and closer relationships long-term.
5 Ideas for Spending Time Together
Looking for a few fun tips for spending time with family? Try these ideas, some of which are my favorites:
- Host a holiday-themed family game night.
- Bake pies or cookies together.
- Get active outdoors—think ice skating or sledding.
- Watch old holiday home movies.
- Plan a holiday-themed scavenger hunt.
This is just a sampling of activities, as the options are endless. Just remember that spending time with your family during this time of year is great for both your body and mind.
And while we can’t make up for lost time, we can focus on the blessings we have in the moment and be grateful for the time we have together.