Remember the days where we all huddled around the TV to watch the weekly episode of the X-files? Getting together and watching a favorite show as a family was a time of bonding, we waited the whole week for it and would excitedly discuss how the story would evolve in the next episode. We would go to the toilet only during the commercial breaks and sshh anyone who spoke during Skully and Moulder’s dialogue. Fast forward 15 years, we all have our own personal devices that we can watch a show on, there is a plethora of options available to us to choose, we can access hundreds of episodes immediately and commercial breaks during shows don’t exist anymore. Wow, this is a real change, moving from an addiction to screen time, a mode of isolation, binge watching for hours at a time- all this has drastically affected our relationship with screen time, our health and our family, all in the name of innocent entertainment.
We are at a tipping point where more is no longer better, our overdose of screen time has caused us to experience sustained high levels of cortisol, this is a stress hormone that continues if there isn’t a trigger to relax and activate the ‘growth and repair’ function of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is as important to you as it is to your family members, healthy relationships cannot be fosters if all members of the family are operating from stress, which keeps us in an individualistic survival mode. Here are our top 5 activities to share quality time together, experience a communal belonging in the family and improve your relationships at home:
Get involved and excite your senses! Roll up your sleeves and make pasta from scratch, the kids love using their hands, taste test a curry the layers of flavors slowly develop and gain an appreciation of the produce and the process of the meals we take for granted when someone else does the cooking. If you have picky eaters chances are they would be more likely to dig in at the dinner table if they helped put the feast together
Getting out to move and enjoying nature is a great way to shift our perspective and see the positive. Turn your attention to the different sights and sounds while hiking, the different shades of green, the smell of the earth, the birds singing- when we can appreciate the finer details become gratitude for our family flows easily and sparks joy from within. Feel grounded and stable in our identity is correlated with our connection with the electromagnetic rays of the earth, no wonder our heads are up in the clouds living and working in high rise buildings all the time!
Private family yoga classes at home are one of our most popular programs, its great to get on the mat together where everyone can shine during the practice, everyone is different and certain poses will come more naturally to certain members, as a generalization we have seen children much more flexible than their parents, strong poses tend to be dad’s forte while mums showcase their equipoise during balancing poses. It a time where we can learn from each other, connect within and focus on what really matters- having fun together while inspiring healthy habits.
Shared interests encourage a relatedness which brings about a deeper sense of connection and belonging. Get each member a copy of the same book and every week discuss a chapter of the book, what you learned, which characters you like, predictions on how the plot will unravel. Reading excites the imagination which is deprived with so much visual stimulation in the digital age. It’s therapeutic as you have to consciously switch off from your mental rumination to concentrate on the words and develops our patience which in this world of immediate gratification is becoming an elusive virtue. Each member of the family can take turns choosing a book so that everyone picks a book that personally interests them, do you know if your father prefers sci-fi or historic novels?
Mindfulness is being taught in schools, why can’t it be practiced at home? It’s never to early to start as you will find focusing on your breathe and clearing your mind can be challenging at any stage of life, in fact you may find it comes more naturally to children. Don’t you think a weekly practice of mindful meditation will make you more sensitive to notice if anyone in the family is upset rather than letting it fuel into an argument when everyone’s energy levels are running on ‘empty’? Guided meditations can be done in person at home, taking the time to expand your awareness, establish your center and deeply relax.