Is there a better time of year than the holidays to spend time with family and friends?
Besides making the holiday season more cheerful, these relationships are vital to our well-being. After all, we’re social creatures and often rely on the support of others to survive. More specifically, strong relationships come with the following benefits as well:
Social support helps us cope with stress.
Whether you’re in a marriage or surrounded by extended family, friends, or mentors, having a support system helps us better manage stress because we have someone to talk to. They can also help us solve problems, like helping you get out from underneath financial stress. Or, they can encourage us to do something that we enjoy so that we can divert our attention and energy to something more positive.
It’s also been found that if you’re in a committed relationship, you’ll produce less of the stress hormone cortisol.
Relationships make you happy.
A 75-year study conducted by Harvard researchers found that secret to a fulfilling life. It’s not how much money you have in your bank account or how successful you’ve been in your career. The only thing that truly matters in life is relationships.
Additionally, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that strong social relationships with others predicted greater life satisfaction.
Social groups encourage healthy behaviors.
This makes sense, right?
If you’re surrounded by people who don’t exercise and indulge in healthy habits like eating fast food and smoking cigarettes, then these negative influences will rub off on you. However, if they encourage more healthy behaviors and habits, like eating healthy you’ll be more likely to follow.
Relationships assist with healing.
Years of research found that married people are less likely get the flu, or even die from cancer. Other studies show that married people who have undergone heart surgery are three times more likely to survive the next three months as compared to single patients.
If you’re connected to others, you’ll have a lower risk of dementia or mental decline. More interesting is that healthy social relationships can add years to your life. In fact, one study found that a lack of friends has the same health effect as smoking 15 cigarettes per day!
Tips for maintaining a healthy relationship.
“Around the holidays, it's easy to get caught up in the whirl of social activities and perhaps lose track of their deeper purpose: providing an opportunity for people to come together,” notes Harvard Health. “Of course, not all forms of holiday conviviality are health-promoting — eating or drinking excessively, for example. Likewise, social contacts don't uniformly enhance our well-being.”
It’s recommended that “during this busy season, take time to foster your most meaningful relationships. Choose activities that are most likely to bring joy to you and the people you care about.” To make quality time for your friends and family, “delegate or discard tasks that eat into your time, or do them together with family or friends.” You should also spend less time in toxic relationships.
Additionally, when you are spending time with your loved ones, be present by disconnecting from your phone and actively listening to them.
If you’re crunched for time, then make plans when you do have the availability, like after the holidays.