A recent analysis of millions of tweets found that people seem to want love and meaningful relationships – better friends, healthy relationships, and more time for family – more than anything else. This confirms what social scientists have long since known: that supportive relationships with friends, family, and work colleagues are good for your health and reduce stress. People with positive social relationships tend to live longer, are less susceptible to infectious illness and less likely to be depressed, and are more likely to feel a sense of belonging, security and self-worth.
So, during the holiday season, think about how you can invest in and deepen your social relationships. Here are some ideas:
1. Assess the Quality of Your Relationships: Conflicted relationships can be stressful and take a toll on your health, while positive ones support you. Take time to think about: Which of your close relationships fuel you and which drain you? How can you invest in connections that energize you?
2. Be Present with People: Reflect on how you plan to spend your time this holiday season – and see if you can make any adjustments so that you have more quality time with people who are important to you. Don’t hesitate to simplify, where you can. For example, instead of fighting crowds to shop for a gift, consider giving “an experience” that you can share with a loved one. When you are with people, give them the gift of your full attention, without rushing to be somewhere else. Avoid looking at your phone or multi-tasking – it is the quality of relationships that matters more than the quantity.
3. Commit to Consistent Time to Connect: If you’d really like to spend more time with a friend, colleague, or family member, schedule regular time for them. For example, make a plan in the new year to commit to a regular (e.g., weekly or monthly) time to connect, whether by coffee dates, walks, or phone calls.
4. Reconnect with a Lost Friend: Think about one person whose relationship mattered to you but with whom you lost touch and reach out to them.
5. Develop a New Relationship: Reach out to someone you would like to get to know better in the new year – maybe a work colleague, a neighbor, or someone in your community. Having a variety of social outlets, in addition to close friends, promotes optimal health.
Wishing you the most joyful and healthy holiday season and 2019!
Director, Thrivewell Coaching