The holiday season is a timely reminder of the importance of visiting friends and relatives; not for exchanging gifts but for enhancing health and wellbeing.
“Holidays are not just pleasurable, they are good for our health. Research has shown that holidays will improve the quality of life of most people,” Associate Professor Elisa Backer from Federation University Australia said.
“Of course, not all people can afford to go on holidays, and some, such as the elderly, may feel disinclined for mobility or other reasons.
“If it is possible to find a way to reconnect with people over Christmas, then you could literally be helping their health.
“Studies have shown that almost one-third of elderly people tend to rate ‘reduced social contacts’ as the central issue that reduces their quality of life – more so than ill health, immobility, or indeed anything else,” Associate Professor Backer said.
“Therefore, if people can find ways to reconnect over Christmas, they could be giving the best gift of all – their time, which can boost health and wellbeing.”
Recent research through medical studies has highlighted the importance of social connections for aiding health, with loneliness being regarded as an epidemic that can cause health problems.
Some studies have claimed that loneliness is as bad for someone’s health as obesity or substance abuse.
“Loneliness can increase blood pressure, heighten stress levels, and yet in some cases it may be possible to improve someone’s health by simply reconnecting with loved ones,” Associate Professor Backer said.
“This can be especially important over Christmas when there is an expectation of spending time with friends and family. For those with nothing to look forward to it can make their sense of loneliness all the more pronounced.
“The focus of tourism tends to be on its economic benefits, but escaping the everyday to engage in new experiences improves most people’s quality of life.”
(Source: Federation University)