HomeRelationshipsThe Science Behind Family Connectedness: A Prescription for Improved Mental Health during the Holidays

The Science Behind Family Connectedness: A Prescription for Improved Mental Health during the Holidays

According to a recent study, family connectedness during the holiday season has been proven to have a positive impact on mental health, contributing to increased wellbeing and reduced stress levels.

The holiday season is a time for joy, celebration, and connection. Beyond the festive decorations and exchanging of gifts lies a profound aspect that directly influences our mental wellbeing – the strength of family bonds. Scientific research supports the notion that family connectedness during the holidays can serve as a powerful elixir for our mental health.

  • Neurobiological Foundations: Recent neuroscientific studies have shown that positive interactions with family members trigger the release of oxytocin, commonly known as the “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.” Oxytocin is associated with feelings of trust, empathy, and connection, contributing significantly to an individual’s overall sense of well-being.
  • Stress Reduction: The holidays often come with their fair share of stressors, from gift shopping to meal preparations. Engaging with family members activates the body’s relaxation response, reducing cortisol levels and mitigating the negative impact of stress. Shared laughter, meaningful conversations, and a sense of belonging all play pivotal roles in buffering against the strains of the holiday season.
  • Emotional Support: The holidays can be a challenging time for those grappling with loneliness or facing personal difficulties. Family connectedness provides a vital support system, offering a safe space for individuals to share their feelings, seek advice, and receive emotional support. This interconnectedness acts as a buffer against mental health challenges, fostering resilience and a sense of security.
  • Creating Positive Memories: Engaging in shared holiday traditions and activities with family members contributes to the formation of positive memories. Research suggests that reminiscing about positive experiences and shared moments can have a lasting impact on mental health, acting as a reservoir of resilience during challenging times.

As we immerse ourselves in the holiday season, it is crucial to recognize the profound influence of family connectedness on our mental health. Beyond the festive decorations and seasonal cheer lies a scientifically supported source of well-being. Taking the time to strengthen family bonds during the holidays is not just a tradition; it is an investment in our mental health.


Smith, J. L., & Baucom, D. H. (2017). The influence of holiday celebration on individual and relational well-being. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(6), 745–750. doi:10.1037/fam0000329