Get a family stress-fix this weekend

Search for a list of top life stresses and I guarantee that family will feature in one way or another. There are times when living under the same roof can create friction we could well do without.

But families can also be a source of stress relief. Studies show that companionship, hugs, laughter and more can all reduce pressure, improve our health and even help us live longer. After a busy week at work or school we can harness the benefit of family-time at the weekend and see improvements in mental and physical health that will see us through the week to come.

Here’s how:

Get outdoors.

Fresh air, exercise, vitamin D….and the chance to switch off and have some fun. Perhaps set your family a mini-challenge like walk to a specific destination, climb a hill, try a cycle route. Or kick a football around, throw a frisbee, play catch. It’s a guarantee that everyone will feel better than if they had sat in front of the TV – and it’s amazing how much more talkative people can be when active. That can help stress levels too.

Get cooking.

Less time pressure at weekends gives you the opportunity to try out a few healthier recipes, with everyone mucking in. It’s great for all of us to be confident in cooking from scratch –that way you can avoid the added salt, sugar and bad fats that are found in a lot of pre-prepared food. Not only do you end up eating healthier food, but preparing and eating food together is a great way to switch off, chat and get a sense of working as a team. What’s more, children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be a normal weight and have healthier eating patterns than those who don’t.

Do some chores.

Yes, really! Working together to sweep up leaves, sort out the washing, make a trip to the supermarket makes the most tedious task more pleasurable for us and teaches kids a bit of responsibility and a few life skills that will stand them in good stead for the future. Plus, doing the chores together gets them done more quickly, leaving time for fun later. And once those chores are no longer niggling away at us, we will feel less stressed and more able to relax and enjoy the weekend.

Turn back time.

Bin the screens and dust off some good old-fashioned board games. Whilst TV and computer games kill any conversation dead, those games from the past can get us all chatting happily again. Unless you are all fiercely competitive, in which case leave the monopoly board in the cupboard and avoid the arguments that may otherwise ensue!

Health promoting effects of friends and family on health outcomes in older adults. Seeman TE. Am J Health Promot. 2000 Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review. Savage BM, Lujan HL, Thipparthi RR, DiCarlo SE. Adv Physiol Educ. 2017 Does hugging provide stress-buffering social support? A study of susceptibility to upper respiratory infection and illness. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Turner RB, Doyle WJ. Psychol Sci. 2015 Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents? A Hammons, B Fiese. Pediatrics 2011