In our world of constant screen time and social media, many of us have actually become less social in ways that are not only beneficial but essential to our mental and physical well-being. A Cigna study from the American Journal of Health Promotion indicated that excessive social media use is one of the biggest risk factors for loneliness, despite the connection it provides to the outside world. So, what's missing in these online interactions?
The in-person experience provides us with interactions that allow us to reap the full benefits of social connection. Those who experience less loneliness cultivate meaningful relationships, especially within their family network. Plus, families provide personal advantages to our wellness, like an increase in happiness and overall life satisfaction. Studies have shown that simply spending time with family can help reduce stress and anxiety, lead to a healthier lifestyle and lengthen your life. Below are some of the many health benefits of spending time and having fun with your family!
Improves Your Mental Health
Spending time with family—especially face-to-face significantly reduces the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and other mental illness. Being physically present with loved ones creates a strong sense of emotional support through life's ups and downs.
Helps Children Perform Well Academically
On average, kids who are having fun and spending time with their family, tend to do better in school. Often, the more together time that is possible, the more a child will feel like their parents or caregivers are invested in their learning. They also develop a greater sense of responsibility for their own studies. Even just asking about their day and what they’re learning will show your children how much you care.
Lowers Risk Of Behavioral Problems
Children who are spending time with their families have shown less risk of behavioral issues, such as violence and substance abuse later in life. When they receive positive attention for positive behaviors, it increases their desire to continue those healthy patterns. Being with family and doing activities together also provides an outlet for pent-up emotions that could otherwise lead to unhealthy decisions. More together-time also creates a safe space for children and teenagers to discuss their concerns and problems that they may be facing in school, relationships, etc.
Spending time with family builds confidence for all members! Parents can teach children self-esteem-building techniques through specific skills such as problem solving and communication (these techniques can be taught easily through games, puzzles, etc). For parents and children alike, confidence grows simply with the knowledge that they are valued and appreciated by their loved ones. Value and appreciation can only be felt regularly if there is a priority to spend time together.
Teaches Effective Conflict Resolution
Being with family is fun, but it can be difficult, too. When conflicts arise, you can’t just walk away for good. You’re in this together, so you have to work together to solve the issues that come up. Spending time with family teaches interpersonal communication skills including healthy, safe, constructive ways to discuss, debate, and solve problems.
Those with strong and healthy family relationships tend to seek out healthier coping mechanisms for stress—such as confiding in friends and family—instead of other unhealthy outlets (i.e. substance abuse, self-harm, etc.). Stress also significantly affects aspects of physical health, such as fatigue, blood pressure, and heart health. The Annals of Behavioral Medicine conducted a study that found when people discussed hardships in their lives with a friend beside them (instead of alone), they had lowered pulse and blood pressure readings.
Enhances Physical Health
With the right kind of activities, spending time with family can positively impact physical well-being. For instance, families who regularly cook together tend to have a better diet than those who don’t. Participating in outdoor activities like sports games, hikes, or gardening together helps to improve fitness.
Lengthens Life Expectancy
Healthy relationships could increase your lifespan up to 50%! Combine all the physical and mental health benefits discussed above, and you can see why family time has been linked to living a longer, healthier, happier life. Even those with unhealthy physical habits, but a strong social network live longer than those without meaningful family relationships.
With all the benefits mentioned above, there are plenty of reasons to put away your phone, walk away from the screen, or take away whatever other distractions you have and start having some family fun! And, with August being National Family Fun Month- it's a perfect time to start making family time more of a priority as a new school year approaches. For tons of great ideas to get the whole family engaged, physical, and even eating better, please visit St. Andrew's Family Fitness's Family Fun Month page!