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Sharp Health News

Fostering family connections during the holidays

Dec. 17, 2018

Fostering family connections during the holidays

For many of us, the holidays are a time to “eat, drink and be merry” with loved ones. It can also be a perfect time to foster connections with family you may not see on a regular basis.

“During the holidays, make it a point to not just see your loved ones, but to spend quality time with them,” explains Lori Alford, a licensed clinical social worker affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “Ditch the cellphones, turn off the TV and be present.”

Lori offers the following ways to help promote quality, mindful family time during the holiday season:

Put away electronic devices.
Technology is a distraction that can keep us from having mindful, meaningful face-to-face conversations. Tell guests about your plan to prioritize family time and ask if they would be willing to put away their mobile devices while everyone is together.

Plan for quality family time.
Build in time for activities that children and adults can participate in together. Building a family tree, playing games or holding a talent show are fun ways to bring generations together.

Another idea is to create a family oral history by recording older generations as they recount stories of the past. If you’re interested in starting an oral history project, view these tips from The American Folklife Center.

Get outside.
New guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlight the importance of physical activity throughout one’s life. Even something as simple as a family walk is good for your health and can help foster communication, as well as shared positive experiences and emotions.

For some families, team sports are an option — and with San Diego’s mild climate, it’s easier for people to get outdoors and be active. As generations come together during the holiday season, it is the perfect time to not only get moving, but also connect with your loved ones.

No matter what your plans this holiday season, find some time to connect mindfully with loved ones, Alford says.

“Many families tend to spend their holidays sitting around indoors eating and drinking, with many of us glued to our mobile devices or constantly checking them,” she says. “It may feel uncomfortable to change habits, but if we make the commitment to put aside the electronic devices and to get outside and be active with our loved ones, it can benefit both our mental and physical health.”

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