‘Tis the season for family, friends, and festivities. But for many people, this can be too much of a good thing—with long to-do lists and not enough time, energy, and resources to get everything done. While it’s helpful to focus on priorities, the question is, which priorities?
According to mental health experts, one of the most helpful things to focus on during the holiday season and throughout the year is relationships. Research shows that healthy social connections are one of the most reliable predictors of a long, healthy, and satisfying life.
Healthy relationships and friendships not only provide emotional support and companionship but also protect against mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Studies also show that new relationships can be made at any age and still have a positive impact on physical and emotional health.
Psychologists have also found that everyday interactions with others—whether family, close friends, distant acquaintances, or even strangers—can boost our mood and be surprisingly sustaining.
The holiday season provides opportunities to reach out and strengthen relationships. Here are a few strategies you can use to nurture relationships in the weeks ahead and throughout the year:
- Focus on people. The holidays often involve special gatherings, traditions, menus, and gifts. If your to-do list seems daunting, look for ways to simplify the preparations so you have more time and energy for family, friends, and even yourself.
- Show appreciation, gratitude, and inclusion. Be genuine and caring of those in your life. Be aware that the holidays can get stressful for everyone. It helps to communicate plans and expectations openly and honestly. Sharing responsibilities can help promote a sense of cooperation and inclusion.
- Be aware of potential challenges. Emotions can run high around the holidays—for all kinds of reasons. It’s helpful to set healthy boundaries, and not feel pressured to participate in activities that may be detrimental to your physical or emotional health or your financial health. Keep in mind that healthy eating, sleeping, exercising, and moderation can help sustain you.
We recognize that relationships sometimes face challenges. If you would like additional support in strengthening relationships, managing loss, loneliness, or other life challenges, please contact Member Support.