With Diwali at our doorstep, the air is buzzing with the excitement of upcoming celebrations. The preparation, the decorations, the planning—the festive season is a busy time for all. In the middle of all the hustle-bustle and the rituals of festivities lies the very human desire for company.
Human beings are social creatures for a reason—our very survival depends on social interaction and cooperation. The pleasure of the company of your loved ones has a significant effect on your well-being, and science corroborates it. An article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior presents that research has shown social relationships to have an effect (both short term and long term) on your mental health, physical health, and mortality risk.
One of the biggest perks of the holiday season has to be family time. Quality family time can be hard to achieve with our busy schedules, but times like this allow us to focus on what is really important. Our friends and family form a support system that is very important for our mental, emotional, and social well-being.
The Benefits of Family Time—What Science Says
Studies have shown that spending time with our loved ones has a direct impact on our stress levels, and can alleviate depression and anxiety. Family time helps to strengthen emotional bonds, and can also boost our immunity. A study published in Network Science suggested that social influence could enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports also showed that the touch of a partner can promote physiological synchronisation and reduce levels of pain. Spending time with your family fosters better communication and conflict resolution skills, and can promote better adaptability.
Research has shown that socialising can have a significant effect on our cognitive functions. A research article published in PLOS ONE presented that a lack of social contact has been linked with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and decline in cognitive functions. The study found that having more daily and pleasant social interactions were related to better cognitive performance in older adults.
Being socially active may even be helpful to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study by Maastricht University, Netherlands. Family time can also help in building self-esteem and developing better habits. Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health showed that involvement in family rituals and activities may be related to improved mental health in adolescents.
Every Rose Has Its Thorns—Navigating Difficult Family Dynamics
While spending time with your family can be something you look forward to very much, that may not be the case for everyone. Not all relationships with near ones are necessarily dear. Rocky relationships with family members are not uncommon, and they can be a source of tension and stress, especially around these times. So what to do in a situation like that?
The festive season rings in new beginnings, and this might be a chance for growth and new perspectives. People are constantly evolving, so keeping an open mind may help mend ties in some cases. Compassion, patience and understanding on both sides will go a long way towards mutual emotional growth. Humour can be a useful tool in navigating emotionally charged situations. If possible, try to communicate openly, and resolve conflicts patiently. Focusing on old things can exacerbate negative situations further. If arguments start escalating, distancing or removing yourself from the situation and taking a break can be helpful. Remember that you should not force yourself into situations that can have a detrimental effect on your well-being, but being empathetic can be helpful in some cases—set your boundaries, but also know that this proximity can be a chance for personal growth for everyone involved.
This festive season, quality family time may be the best gift of all. Here is wishing you and your family a safe, sustainable and happy Diwali full of light, laughter, and the joys of being loved.