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As parents, we have the tendency to put our families first and set our own needs aside. However, if we’re not healthy, our whole family suffers.
Just like our cars require certain types of maintenance at different points throughout their existence, so do our bodies. By taking preventative measures and establishing healthy habits, we can hope to live long and healthy lives.
1. Schedule Doctor Visits
Making and keeping regularly scheduled doctors appointments is a helpful method for staying on top of your personal healthcare. Aging eyes, bones, and bodies are a part of growing older and require our attention to prevent degradation. Don’t skip out on any additional testing offered by your optometrist or dentist, such as oral or eye cancer screenings. It may cost you a few extra dollars and a few more minutes of your time, but it may be more costly to your health if you avoid them until you start showing symptoms and it’s too late.
2. Sweat it Out
Exercise is a very important part of leading a healthy life, but it can be difficult to find the energy to do so after a long day of chasing the kids around. Instead of thinking of exercise as a one-hour chore to add to your to-do list, pick up an active hobby instead. Consider an activity that you can do while the kids are doing their extra curricular activities, such as taking an aerobic class at the same time they have basketball practice. Another possibility is getting the whole family involved by training and participating in a fun run or marathon.
3. Get More Sleep
As a parent, you often operate on as few hours of sleep as possible. The long-term effects of such habits can have negative impacts on your health. Setting an alarm on your phone alerting you to your bedtime may be helpful in getting more sleep. It might be enticing to try a sleep aid if you have a difficult time falling and staying asleep. However, getting more sleep is not the only goal — instead, focus on getting natural, quality sleep. To get better quality sleep, consider different sleeping positions for specific conditions such as neck or back pain.
4. Eat Right
Pop culture is constantly encouraging us to buy in to fad diets and extreme diet changes. Choosing a diet that suits your body’s nutritional wants and needs will best serve you in the long run. If a blood test reveals your body is low on iron, you may want to reconsider adopting a vegetarian diet and instead implement more red meat and dark green, leafy vegetables into your daily meal plan.
Establishing healthy eating habits for you and your family will help to eliminate poor choices from making their way into your home by setting nutritional guidelines for everyone to follow. It goes without saying as well, make sure to avoid too much sugar on a daily basis. Although an occasional treat now and then won’t do you any harm, the risks associated with consuming too much sugar should give you second thoughts about incorporating desserts and sugary processed foods in your meal prep plans.
5. Find Community
The old adage, “you are as good as the company you keep,” holds quite a bit of truth. Surrounding yourself with people who contribute to your happiness and lift you up, as opposed to pulling you down, is truly valuable. Finding community can be done in a number of ways and in various places. If you are affiliated with a religious practice, you may find yours at church, temple, or wherever you choose to practice. Alternatively, it can be found in unlikely places such as a writer’s group, a knitting club, or at the gym. Foster groups and communities full of people who you can lean on from time to time and who you will readily support in return.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Our days can be so fast paced and can lean towards feeling like frenzied chaos you are continuously attempting to keep in balance. A daily mindfulness practice has been shown to help reduce stress and in return have positive health benefits. Adopting a meditation practice, journaling habit, or yoga routine has proven to lower anxiety — a common issue among parents of all ages. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be time consuming and can be as simple as a short breathing exercise to bring you back to the present moment. Mindfulness practices also offer you a designated time devoted to yourself and no one else who may feel entitled to your time and attention.
Try setting attainable goals for yourself that you know will be beneficial to your health and stick with them. Changes can seem overwhelming when you feel like you already don’t have time, but adding in small things here and there as well as getting yourself in a good routine will help make these changes manageable. The small changes that you make will add up to make a large difference in the grand scheme of your health and the health of your family.