Physical and mental health are intertwined, and both aspects of our health need to be addressed. It tends to become easier to address one when the other is thriving. In today’s family, each individual tends to isolate him or herself behind a computer, television, or other electronic device. The family, though, while made up of unique individuals, is a unit. There’s no family like your family! So to keep everyone fit physically and mentally, try some of these tips.
Rest and Sleep
Families are busy. Sleep is often low on the list of things to do in everyone’s 24 hours. But experts agree that adequate sleep is essential for adults and children of all ages. Sleep and rest are important for both physical and mental health. Establishing routines and bedtimes can help. Of course, no routine is completely rigid; everyone can “stay up past bedtime” now and then. But that should be the exception, not the norm.
It’s so tempting to have junk food handy – everyone likes it and it’s convenient. But the benefits of junk food are deceptive. Everyone may like it, but it’s convenient only insofar as your family stays healthy despite eating it. In other words, junk food’s convenience is undermined if you have digestive upsets, behavior problems, sleep disturbances, and many other possible reactions to the dubious ingredients in junk foods.
Of course, junk food requires little or no preparation, which is part of its appeal. Isn’t it easier to throw your kids a bag of chips than make them a healthy snack? However, as noted above, “easier” can be deceptive depending on the fall-out experienced from eating too much junk food – especially weight gain. The easy aspect of junk food becomes a lot less easy when you think about how hard it is to exercise the excess weight off!
Healthy foods help keep us fit physically and mentally. Healthy fats are said to keep skin, brains and nervous systems in good working order; fresh fruits and vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, and vital nutrients; whole grains promote good digestion and also provide fiber and key nutrients. Healthy foods do not have to be complicated – it is no more difficult to prepare and eat a handful of nuts than it is a bowl of chips.
If you’re going to take all this talk about healthy foods seriously, it means someone has to prepare them! Try involving the whole family. Not only will it burn more calories to get family members up off the couch and into the kitchen, but it invites experimentation and a willingness to try new foods. After all, aren’t we all a little more inclined to try something new if we had a hand in “inventing” and preparing it?
Your family is unique. Celebrate that uniqueness with special family traditions and activities. This does not mean you have to host two enormous family reunions each year. It can be something as simple as a weekly bike ride or hike, or attending local events each year. Let this be your family time together that is distinctive. Talk about building memories!