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How your family can improve your health

19 June, 2017
Family improves health

These past holidays might have been a happy reminder of how important and fulfilling it is to spend time with family, whether it’s your children, parents, or cousins that you may have temporarily forgot existed. Shared meals and work, like cleaning up after the children-shaped bombshells that left mess everywhere, can reignite bonds lost over the course of the working year.

Fortunately, these bonds can last longer with a little effort, and have mutually beneficial health benefits!

Making time for family can reduce stress

If you’re finding your mind is constantly banging back and forth between obligations to your work and to your family, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing some stress.

A study from Oregon State University showed that repetitive thought on the conflicts between work and family life impacts your:

  • Life satisfaction
  • Positive affect
  • Negative affect
  • Fatigue
  • Perceived health
  • Health conditions

Not good.

What is good is that the Fair Work Ombudsman sees a healthy work & family balance as Best Practice for businesses. The guide shows that providing flexibility in the working environment has benefits like:

  • Cost-effective in retaining staff
  • Increase in staff returning after parental leave
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • A way to get recognised as an employer of choice

So while your first instinct might be to kick open your boss’s door and demand a better work schedule, there is a calmer and more demonstrable method to getting that extra time. What’s important is that you bring your needs to your employer’s attention.

For those whose jobs and careers have stricter demands, not to worry – there are ways to find time in your already busy schedule. Just like any other goal or activity, it’s about budgeting time, making plans, and changing your environment to encourage success in your efforts.

Make calendars, let people know in advance what time you’re out the door, and try to organise your day so you can ensure that the highest priority work is done. It can be hard to leave your work at your desk – but if you’re getting what needs to be done sorted, you’re likely to focus more on the quality of your family time.


Relationships with family members decreases likelihood of deaths

Unfortunately surrounding yourself with every relation in the country won’t make you immortal – but it will keep you alive longer in your twilight years.

Which is, surprisingly, not something that your friends can do.

That’s right, friends, aka, the family you choose, don’t have as much of an impact on your likelihood of death.

The study found that older adults who had closer, more intense relationships with their families had a 6% likelihood of death within the next four years, while those who weren’t close had more than double the rate of mortality at 14%.

Factors most associated with a reduced mortality risk were:

  1. Being married
  2. Larger network size
  3. Greater social participation
  4. Feeling close to confidants

In another twist, marriage, regardless of quality, was seen to have the most positive effects on longevity.

As hard as it is to get along with family at times, keeping strong bonds with your related loved ones can have a positive impact on your health.

Family influences your heart health

Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s biggest killers, so any steps you can take to improve and influence your and your family’s heart health are worthwhile.

In a reveal that surprises no-one, the family attitude towards health and diet affects everyone in the family. Where families prepare for their time together to have proper meals and physical activity, it becomes part of the family’s values.

AKA the kids will probably eat healthier and be more active into later life.

For those who have long left childhood behind, not to worry – if your family is engaged and committed to giving their time and energy to nutritious meals together and organising physical outings, then you too can reap the benefits.

Some easy ways to

Faster physical healing

While we can’t promise Wolverine-like powers, we can say that being in a happy relationship can lead to quicker wound-healing. The paper, which investigated the impact of stress on wound-healing, found that:

“Individuals who displayed more self-disclosure, acceptance of their partner, relationship-enhancing statements, and humour during the interaction task healed the blister wounds faster than participants who exhibited less positive behaviours during the marital interaction task”

In short, if you can make your partner giggle even when they’ve gone through the horrific experience of a blister, then chances are they’re going to heal faster. What this shows more than anything is that our mental approach to our family is just as important, and linked to, our physical approach.



All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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