Life can get busy sometimes. You might find it difficult to find the time to be together as a family with work, school, and other commitments getting in the way.
Yet, there are so many benefits to hanging out together, whether cooking or cleaning at home to going out and trying new activities with family. Even the surliest teenager is sure to have fun, and there are lots of benefits to everyone’s long-term health too.
If you’re wondering how activities with family can be good for the mental health of everyone, keep reading on.
What Are the Main Benefits?
First, physical, face-to-face communication with those you’re close to reduces the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Humans are social animals, and the emotional support provided by this close bond goes a long way to protecting our mental health.
It also reduces stress. We all get stressed from time-to-time, so it’s important to have healthy outlets to relieve our stress. By talking and being open with family, people are less likely to turn to more unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Both Parent and Child
You might be thinking more about how family time can help your children, but it’s great for the parents too.
Spending time together, whether you’re going on vacations with family or scheduling family games, helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child. It can even lower the risk of behavioral problems in your children, making life easier for you in the long-run.
Giving your children positive attention makes them more likely to open up to you about their worries. From body concerns to anxieties about school, once you’re aware of a problem, you can work towards addressing it.
Organizing Activities With Family
There are plenty of ways to spend time with your family without going away on vacation, so you can fit activities around your other commitments.
Even playing together can be effective. Get onto your child’s level, reminding them that even adults sometimes just want to have fun too! Think of some fun games and activities to do together.
Playing is proven to benefit our brains, helping them evolve and grow. It supports new neural connections in the brain, and can even positively alter the brain’s structure.
Make Chores Fun!
Okay, so maybe there’s no way to make vacuuming the floor and cleaning the bathroom sound exciting, but what about cooking?
You can decide on a meal together, and get started on preparing it. As you all get to taste the results later, nobody will mind doing the more boring jobs like setting the table and washing the dishes.
Then, you can eat the meal together as a family. Family dinners have plenty of benefits, from reducing the risk of depression to increasing academic performance and self-esteem, so turn the TV off and sit around the table together.
Going on Vacation
If you’re able to take a few days away from work, why not take a vacation? Just like doing family activities at home or going on day trips, vacations have plenty of advantages too.
Even planning the vacation can be exciting—putting the plans together can boost everyone’s mood as you begin to look forward to your time away—while the vacation itself is sure to strengthen familial bonds.
One of the best things about going on vacation is that technology isn’t as important. If your kids can often be seen glued to their devices at home, some time closer to nature or without every electronic home comfort will benefit them—despite any protests!
Spending time away from screens and outside, even for just 20 minutes, is proven to be a real mood-booster, decreasing levels of stress and improving concentration too.
One thing you may want to consider is family counseling. At first, it might seem like something you don’t need, but there are many potential advantages to attending family counseling sessions.
These benefits are many and varied, but the most important factor is that family counseling is a safe space. Everybody can share their concerns and feelings about the family, and practice healthy behaviors too, like turn-taking and listening.
Every family will go through difficulties at one time or another, and it’s important not to view attending family counseling as having failed in some way. It can potentially really boost everyone’s mental health, raising self-esteem, and improving your mood too.
It can be easier to turn to other ‘fixes’ when faced with problems. Perhaps your children immerse themselves in their favorite video game or watch TV rather than sharing their worries—family counseling encourages everyone to open up, improving communication throughout the family, and making everyone happier as a result.
What Can We Do Together?
We’ve mentioned a few of the activities you might want to do as a family, but in truth the list is never-ending!
You could volunteer together. Not only will it make everyone in the family grateful for what they have, but it’s a great way to bond together too. Volunteering is also proven to have many mental health benefits, producing mood-boosting chemicals like oxytocin and progesterone—these chemicals lower stress too!
Instead, you could go out to eat as a family—try a restaurant you’ve never been to or revisit an old favorite. This gives you the benefits of eating together as a family, but without the hard work first.
Alternatively, go to watch a local sports game, getting your kids outside and connecting with the local community, or even just have a day out at a local park. Pack food and have a picnic! Again, this gets everyone outside and closer to nature and allows you to spend time together too.
These are just some of the ways that activities with family are great for your mental health. You know your family best, so it’s up to you to think about what activities are best for you all, and you should be able to boost everyone’s mental health too! Give it a go—what will you do with your family?
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your mental health and that of your family, check out some of our other posts.