Creating Family Togetherness During the Holiday Season

Why do family or “like-family” friends get together over the holidays? The relationships you build and cultivate in your life are important for your overall well-being. Satisfying social ties will not only create feelings of happiness, but they’ll also influence your long-term health. This, for most people, translates to getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well-balanced meals, and not smoking.

Because humans are inherently social animals, we fare better in groups than we do on our own. That’s why we cluster in families, in cities, and in groups of friends. It’s the way of nature. Nonetheless, around 34% of Americans don’t have any strong social relationships, which in turn puts their health at significant risk.

Even in healthy, well-functioning individuals, a lack of strong social bonds means you’re more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and higher levels of stress. So before the holidays kick in, reach out to family members you’d like to see before the year ends. This can be as simple as picking up the phone or sending a text, email, or card. Your happiness and health will thank you for it.

The holidays are a good time to let others know how much they mean to you.

Everyday life can sometimes be stressful and full of uncertainty. But during the holiday season, most families have traditions. You always know exactly what you need to do, where you need to do it, and how you need to do it. This provides a comfortable sense of structure, control, and stability that makes your world a more predictable place.

Coming together from different parts of the country allows you to also leave your worries behind. You’ll reconnect with family members you may have not seen in a while through time-honored family traditions. Sharing ceremonial meals brings everyone together around the table, paving the way for conversation and connection. Even the exchange of gifts during the festivities isn’t just a (recycling?) waste of resources. It’s a way for you to create networks of reciprocal relationships and maintain social ties.

All these things are what make the holiday season the perfect time to let others know how much they mean to you. Sure, you may need to take two flights with a four-hour layover to get there, and your uncle may have one too many eggnogs and start a political argument at the dinner table again. But as Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman research points out, this is unlikely to spoil your overall experience.

Make time for relationships in spite of the holiday hurry and scurry.

It’s easy to assume that because you’ll be in the same space with your family, you’ll automatically connect with one other, but those are two different things. Everyone is normally so busy and distracted during the festivities that they don’t stop to check in with the people around them.

One way you can change that is to schedule time for the relationships that matter the most to you. If that’s your significant other, pull them aside once in a while, go for a walk around the block, and look at the Christmas lights while talking, or you can reserve a table for two at a fancy restaurant. You can spend one-on-one time with your kids outside or with a trip to the park.

It will also really help your relationships with other family members if you can be more present in conversations during mealtimes, particularly with anyone you don’t see on a regular basis. Having a “no phone/gadgets rule” during dinner or other family gatherings will encourage everyone to talk, share, and interact with each other. You can even make it a game to see who can go the longest without pressing an unlock screen button.

Another wonderful way to make time for relationships with all of the generations in your extended family is to have a movie night twice a week. Each generation can choose two of their favorite movies to watch. Senior family members will feel included in the celebrations, while the kids will enjoy spending time with everyone. Building healthy relationships during the holidays really depends on the effort you make to spend quality time with those you love, no matter how crazy life feels.

A Healthy Family with Healthy Teeth

The festive season is all about making holiday memories with loved ones. Should anyone in your family need help with their teeth during this time — be it a chip, a filling, or just a good old pre-holiday cleaning — reach out to us. It won’t be long before you discover the difference advanced technology and a gentle, individualized approach to dental care can make in your life.