December 1, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Familiar Family Activities Bring Happiness, Study Says

A trip to a tropical island sure does sound amazing this time of year. But before you pack your bags and ditch sitting by the fire with your family, consider recently published research that indicates spending time at home with your loved ones could bring more satisfaction than new experiences with them. All the more reason to continue your family traditions this holiday season!

The study, published in World Leisure Journal, “In the Pursuit of Happiness All Family Leisure is Not Equal,” found that families tend to be happier when they are sharing familiar experiences instead of new ones, because new activities require them to be “exposed to new and unexpected stimuli from the outside.” 

As reported by The Daily Mail, researchers noted that visiting new locations, meeting new people and participating in unfamiliar activities all required more energy to process the information, leaving less time for nurturing family relationships. Conversely, the study said that “decreases in environmental stimuli allow for better attention on the intended goal of family relationships during the family experience.”

The researchers concluded that familiar family leisure time is more likely to foster togetherness.

“The best predictor of happiness for families may be spending quality time together in familiar activities inside the home,” said lead researcher Karen Melton of Baylor's Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences via The Daily Mail

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But of course, creating satisfying family time is important no matter where you are. The study found that most family leisure activities are done in the home, but they aren’t always meaningful. Both new and familiar activities inside and outside the home create a “balanced and healthy family life,” the researchers noted.

No matter where you are, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in familiar family activities. If you’re traveling this holiday season, check out these tips for healthy family travel. And in the spirit of the season, consider continuing a holiday tradition, whether it’s baking cookies, exchanging funny gifts, or gathering items for charity.

At Integrative Nutrition, we believe in holistic health—nurturing our bodies, minds and relationships. Quality family time is an important part of what we call Primary Food. This holiday season, it’s important to enjoy that special time with loved ones in order to maintain relationships that are healthy and fulfilling!

What’s your favorite family holiday tradition? Share yours here. 

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