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Why Family Gathering is More Important Than Ever

written by Carissa Andrews - Feb 15, 2020
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Jul 19, 2022

Photo Credit: by Gunilla G,
Photo Credit: by Gunilla G,

Technology was meant to be a way to make our lives easier and less stressful, however, it seems like with every passing year, it really only adds to our list of to-dos. Before you know it, your days are filled with tasks and it’s hard to find the time to spend with our family. However, being a part of an informal or formal family gathering (such as around any significant holiday), can have a host of health benefits we’re only starting to explore. This can be anything from a simple family tradition, to well-planned-out getaways. Gathering together is more than just coming together to catch up, and we’ll prove it to you. Humans are social creatures and without a deep level of connection, we often feel disconnected, stressed, overworked, and even irritable, aggressive, or downright depressed.

So, what can we do to combat this as we head into 2020? One of the biggest ways we can put our family unions first is through being more intentional about how we spend our time. Not only will it help your family members, but it will impact your mental and physical health as well. Here are just a few of the ways you’ll feel the effects of spending some quality family time together:

1. Helps you decompress – Look, life is stressful no matter who you are. Whether you have a job or need to find one, or even starting or running your own business – you will have your set of stressors that press down on you. Taking the time for holiday family time (or any time) can help you decompress and detox from going overboard and turning into a complete workaholic. Taking downtime to connect with those we really love releases your endorphins and makes you feel good, and we all want that, right?

2. Improves your mindset – If you’re not happy, what’s all of this for? When you feel connected to your family through regular gatherings and family time, your mindset improves and it’s easier to embrace your joy. When you step away from work and environmental stresses to just be with those you love most, you naturally slide into a place of gratitude and that organically gets you in a better mindset. Interestingly, the American Society of Aging has noted that seniors who have strong familial ties and good social networks even have better episodic memory, cognitive function, and overall better brain health.

3. Rekindles connection & strengthens bonds – During our stressful, busy times of the year, it’s easy to let your family time slide. That’s why holiday gatherings can be so important. It’s a social reminder that it’s time to set all that aside and regroup. In this simple action, it helps us to rekindle our connection with our immediate and extended family members so you don’t lose touch in this fast-paced world. It also strengthens those familial ties and makes your bond together even stronger.

4. Lowers blood pressure – Need an easy way to improve your cardiovascular health? Research suggests you should spend more time together as a family. Stress causes a host of negative effects on the mind and body, but when you have a place you can turn to talk about your problems, it gives you a healthy way to relieve that stress. A study by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that people who leaned on their strong family ties to discuss their difficult times and stressors had a lower pulse, lower blood pressure, and overall better cardiovascular health.

5. Improves academic success for children – When kids feel connected to their family, their self-esteem improves, along with their mindset. This, in turn, translates into better grades because they feel like they are safe and secure, while also having someone they can turn to when things like particular school lessons or social situations get more difficult. As little as twenty minutes a day can significantly improve your child’s grades and overall well being. Remember, when kids get good grades, this sets them up to feel like they have the ability to succeed at anything they do.

6. Models parenting and interpersonal skills – Every interaction you have with your kids impacts who they will become. When kids have good role models and parents who interact with them, they learn how to communicate, work together, the skills for conflict resolution, and yes—even how to parent their own kids when the time comes. Knowing this can help ground us when we think about how our interactions with them will affect the way they operate in their own lives. If you don’t like the way your parents were with you, then it’s up to you to be the change you want to see in your kids.

7. Less chance to spiral downward – Risk-taking behaviors, like alcohol and drug abuse, have a much more difficult time being a part of a child’s life when they’re busy spending quality time with their family.

8. Negates anger, aggression, and violence – Regardless if you’re an adult or a kid, spending time with a supportive family member can decrease anger, aggression, and depression. When we feel connected and supported, the chance of crime and violence also decreases. Teenagers are prone to anger issues, simply because of the social pressure and sheer amount of hormones flushing through their bodies. However, adolescents who have a close relationship with their family are less likely to engage in violent acts or turn to self-inflicted harm.

9. Fills emotional cups – As emotional beings, we need a way to fill our emotional cups in a way that’s productive and supportive for us. Family time and gathers help us to fill those cups with things like gratitude, creativity, connection, inspiration, and love—rather than allowing the lower octaves of emotion, such as fear, anxiety, or hurt to rule the roost.

5 Easy Ways to Spend More Family Time Together

Even in this hyper-busy world, it’s both easy and important to engage in family time. Your family’s psychological well-being and connection is up to you. Lean on each other to cope with stress and feel loved. Here are a few ways you can spend more quality time with your family.

1. Be affectionate – Whether you see them every day or only at a holiday gathering, let your loved one know they’re important to you. A hug, smile, and even listening intently to whatever they’re telling you can go a long way. Find a way to let them know without a doubt you appreciate them in your life.

2. Read together – If you have little kids, sit down before bedtime and read a book or two. As your kids get older, pick a time where you gather in the living room and read together—even if it’s different books. If you don’t have kids at all in the home, connect by creating a “book group” of family members where you read and discuss the same book over a good meal.

3. Family meals – This one is obvious for holiday gatherings, as most of us spend our quality time hovering over the buffet table, but this one also applies every day of the week. In your immediate family, make sure you all site down during at least one meal (typically supper). If you live alone, pick a day a week where you meet up with a friend or family member to reconnect and enjoy a good meal.

4. Get your giggle on – Do you know how many endorphins are released when you laugh? A ton! Not only that, but the effects of laughter have even shown that they can burn more calories and give your heart a boost. So, why not do something totally silly? Tell jokes, watch funny films, or just be goofballs together. The laughter will make you feel both happy and connected afterwards.

5. Get outside – Spending time in nature on its own is a big boost to a person’s health. Imagine what it will do for you if you also spend it with your family! Go for a bike ride, walk, a hike in the park, or kayaking on the river. Turn the sprinkler on and run through it. Get out for a cross-country ski morning or snowmobiling during the winter months. Whatever it is, enjoy the time outside with those you love. Your family and your health with thank you.

Despite our busy lives, it’s more important than ever to consciously make the effort to spend time with those we love. When we do, we improve our physical and mental health, all while strengthening our family bonds. At the end of the day, that’s really what’s most important anyway. Whether you’re reading this at a time of year when family gatherings are top-of-mind, or when you simply need a reminder to be intentional about your family time, we hope you found this information valuable. Your family needs you as much as you need them—not the work you do. The best way to influence the world is to start at home.



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