Home for the Holidays? Family Time Is Good for You!

Home for the Holidays? Family Time Is Good for You!4 reasons strong family ties can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Sure, they drive you crazy sometimes. But time spent with family may not only improve your health and happiness but may also help you to live longer.

Research shows that people who feel happy and in control of their lives are more likely to exercise, eat right, remember to take their medications and take care of their overall health. What's more, positive feelings can have a direct positive effect on your heart. Conversely, feelings of discontent and anxiety can cause the body to release stress hormones that speed the heartbeat, constrict blood vessels, raise blood pressure and, over time, weaken the heart.

So the next time your sister borrows your favorite sweater and doesn't return it, just let it go. One study shows that having a sister reduces loneliness, fear, guilt and feeling unloved. Don't dismiss the role of brothers, though. Having a caring sibling of either sex nurtures our most charitable behaviors.

Here are four other reasons to embrace family time this holiday season:

  1. You'll live longer. Where do you find the most centenarians (or people who live to 100 or beyond)? In places like Sardinia, Italy, where people live closest to their families.
  2. You'll eat better. And so will your kids. Sharing meals with your family can significantly improve your diet. In a study published in Pediatrics, children and adolescents who ate meals with their families three or more times a week were more likely to maintain a healthy weight. They were less likely to develop eating disorders as well.
  3. You'll be less stressed. Although your blood pressure and heart rate rise when you are under stress, they increase less so when you are with close friends and family members.
  4. You'll have happier kids. Simply having a talk with mom can help kids who have just gone through a tough situation. Research shows that talking to your mother can increase your level of oxytocin, often referred to as the attachment hormone. Kids who have close relationships with their parents learn better, are more resilient, are less likely to abuse drugs and are more likely to be involved in school.
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