Family can enhance your life

Dr T K Munshi

Whether you have connected your family members by blood, official documents or love alone, they can enhance your life and health in immeasurable ways. The depths of those bonds can shape us to strength.
Strengthen ties
Maintaining bonds with your loved ones improves your well-being and theirs, says the therapist, Trevor Crow, author of ‘Forging Health Connections.’ How relationships fight illness, ageing and depression? These three tips can help. The most powerful three words you can say to someone you love are:” Tell me more.”
Practice little kindnesses
Research has long shown that for every negative interaction in a relationship, you should aim for five positive ones. ‘Small gestures go a long way’, says Crow. You might send your partner a text saying, ‘you looked so nice today.’ For example drop off some freshly baked cookies for a friend who has had a hard week.
Respond to cues
Maybe your dad is reading the paper and says, ” Huh that’s interesting,’ or a friend texts you, ” O, I’m having a day !” These are attempts to connect, and it’s important to honour them. But interacting as much as we can, will help our loved ones to know how much we value them.
Talk out a conflict
Being able to work through problems is one of the most important skills of any strong long-term relationship, says Karen Forsthoff, a family therapist in San Francisco.
Set a time to talk
Ask when it would be a good time to talk, so you might suggest taking a walk together. Movement helps our body cope with stress and tension.
Pace yourself
Imagine your spouse or sister says something unkind. It’s natural to want to fire back. But that will escalate the tension, Forsthoff points out. Instead say something like, ‘ I can see that you’re upset.’ Acknowledging, the other person’s feelings can be soothing.
Allow space
If not making progress, suggest a time-out. ‘If you both have a little time to cool off and think things through, you’re more likely to be able to approach the issue with greater kindness and love,’ says Forsthroff.
Be realistic: Holidays and festivals are tough because ‘ there are often tremendous expectations that everything will be perfect and everyone will get along,’ says Elana Katz, a family therapist in NY. The truth is that no get-together can live up to that. Look for opportunities to engage with your loved ones with care and curiousity.
Consider old hurts
Childhood resentments often get replayed and more ingrained through the years , says Ann Steiner, a psychotherapist in SanFrancisco. Brainstorm healthy ways to react to those resentments you’re holding on.
Plan activities
Put out family photo albums, give up a classic holiday movie, or take the whole going to volunteer at a soup kitchen for the needy. Sharing a fun or meaningful activity can build bonds and help you avoid controversial topics,’ says Steiner.
Come with your best self
‘Try to go into the event feeling strong, centered and rested,’ says Steiner. Being tired makes it more difficult to handle, stress and tension effectively.’
Acts of gratitude
Cicero the philosopher-statesman called gratitude ‘ the greatest virtue’, for fostering patience, generosity, wisdom, and humility. Researchers call gratitude a social glue that bonds us in friendship and appreciation. Research shows gratitude positively shifts mindsets and moods, prevents burnout, and boosts self-esteem. One study found that grateful cardiac patients slept better, experienced less fatigue, and had lower levels of inflammation.
There are people who deliver home-made pizzas to the needy homeless. There have been numerous instances when helping humans delivered masks and food to the populace that didn’t have any Govt. support. There are people in abundance who write notes of appreciation for the person who cleans their office. There are people who write a positive online review of a great book, that upgrades the author. There are people who send a gracious email to somebody in an unappreciated profession like our insurance adjuster or chartered accountant. In nutshell, there are as many ways to practice gratitude as there are grateful people.