International Day Of Families

Families can be tough, lots of us will know that. Relationships can affect our mental health, personality, behaviour, and maybe even our physical health.

Numerous studies have shown that social relationships, in particular family relationships, can affect our mental health, both short term and long term. Depending on the nature of these relationships with our families, our mental health can be enhanced or depleted.

If you have the support of a stable family and are suffering from mental health issues, you may be more responsive to treatment. Companionship and emotional support will undoubtedly positively impact you and your well-being. Most of the time, people who need mental health care will rely on their family first, and when that’s not there, and your family doesn’t understand what you are going through, be prepared that the recovery process can take time.

But what if you don’t have a positive or even any relationship with family? What if your family members are toxic and unsupportive? What if they constantly criticise you and don’t understand what you’re going through? What happens if your family rejects you? Because of your mental health issues? Because you’re gay? Because your partner is someone of a different ethnicity or religion?

15th May 2022 was International Families Day, a time to reflect on yours. Not having the support of a caring and understanding family can bring up feelings of loss, hurt, isolation, alienation, and rejection, which won’t help your mindset. We know it’s difficult to talk to your family when no one wants to listen but talk you must.

There is, of course, a different type of family, the one that we choose ourselves and let into our lives, rather than being born into it. Friendships make up a big part of us, and we nurture and gather strength from those relationships whether we are related or not.

We are all guilty of neglecting our relationships when life gets busy amidst the daily hassles and major life events. Phone’s ringing, emails beeping, screen time, work to get done. But whether you have family or friends on your side, you must make the effort to spend time with them, for your sake and theirs. We may sometimes lose sight of what we value in our relationships and get bogged down with Groundhog Day, but having a social presence with your people and talking and listening are just some of the ingredients of a healthy life. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but the people closest to you are the perfect place to start opening up and talking. Find a suitable location, be honest and open, and suggest things they could do to help you and you to help them.

Family Day celebrates the importance of connecting with others, blood or not. So take this opportunity to revisit your relationships and decide what needs attention. How can you free up time to spend with others? Who have you neglected of late? Who do you need to reconnect with? Who do you know needs support? It may be just some simple day-to-day companionship that you crave, a coffee, a beer, a chat, just someone to listen to your story, but whatever you need to do to feel your best, do it now.

However you choose to spend this Family Day, let’s switch off and take a minute. How can we make our relationships stronger? How can we get the support we need to make us healthier? Who can we help in return?

Time to get off the computer and go give them a call.