It has now been proven, by the office for national statistics, that keeping a connection with family gives us mental, social and physical advantages. What exactly are these benefits? Often we get so distracted by daily life and let little feuds and niggles grow, so that we don’t stop to take time and appreciate how valuable family connections really are. Take a step back and have a think about the advantages of keeping connected. Below are some of the key ones:
Can you remember the last time that you actually sat around a dinner table and had a meal with your family? Research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse suggests that families who make a habit of sitting around a dinner table for at least five nights a week are happier, closer and more united; because of this, children are less likely to fall ill to substance abuse. Spending time relaxing and socialising together (without mobile phones as a distraction) is a wonderful way to reinforce family connections.
If you have read our previous article on: ‘Is family the key to a happy and fulfilled life?’ then you will be aware that staying connected with family can actually lead to greater overall well-being. There are physical benefits as family usually encourage a healthier lifestyle. According to the NHS, the mental benefits are also clear, with people generally experiencing a greater feeling of contentment with family members. Additionally, the NHS also confirms that family provide a sense of belonging which reduces the effects of depression and anxiety.
That’s right – there is a direct correlation to performance at work and the social interactions we have with our family. Comprehensive studies have been carried out on family connections and progress in the work place. The findings are that higher levels of family support provide greater job satisfaction and longer employment.
You may have heard the well tried maxim that ‘it is important to know your roots’ or ‘always remember where you come from’. Well, there is a certain element of truth to this. One way to achieve this is to go and visit your family to take you back to your roots. This may sound somewhat philosophical but it keeps you in touch with your identity and purpose. It is also a reminder of the people who either raised you or who you grew up with.
There have been various studies which look into the implications on recovery time for those who have the support of family and those that don’t. There is overwhelming evidence that supports the theory of an increased recovery time when loved ones are close by. This isn’t only in relation to minor illnesses either; there have been quite astonishing stories of people with different cancers, diabetes or circulatory problems that have benefited from family being around them.
There are a plethora of ways to stay in contact with family. Below are just a few ways you could try:
Christmas doesn’t count! Every year set just one weekend aside to catch up with the whole family. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it might just be a weekend away camping or meeting at a central location at a relative’s house. This is a great summer activity and you will be able to set up lots of fun things to do for the children or grandchildren, such as a summer Olympics.
Facebook provides unprecedented opportunities for extended families to stay in close contact when geographical locations might separate them. It’s a fantastic form of communication for family members that live far apart, and has especially been useful for grandparents keeping up to date with the lives of their grandchildren.
So whilst Facebook has really helped people to keep up to date with daily life, nothing beats a good old face to face chat. This is where new technology is really helping to breakdown barriers of geography. Apps such as Skype, and Apple’s Facetime, enable you to physically see someone on screen even though they may be thousands of miles away. It’s also free and easy!
A letter in the post is a great form of traditional communication that is much more personal than just sending an email. Providing that it isn’t a standard bill, receiving a letter can actually be very exciting, especially for the little ones. They can send a letter to Nan and Granddad with drawings and you can also jazz the letter up by giving it a rustic feel. Simply, get a used tea bag and dab it over paper, burn the edges and put a scroll around it to make the task more entertaining.
There is no denying the fact that most of us have busy schedules and it can be a challenge to fit everything into our day-to-day lives. However, if we plan to just set aside twenty minutes every week to call a family member then this will go a long way in trying to keep better connected.
There are a whole host of benefits from staying in contact with family, from improving well-being to an increase in job satisfaction. There are also a variety of ways we can keep better connected with relatives, from the traditional letter to the digital world of Skype. One thing is for sure: keeping connected with different family members is essential to our quality of life.