How to keep your family strong
Family life is constantly rewarding, whatever struggles you might encounter along the way; and there are helpful habits you can develop to strengthen your ability to manage stress in the healthiest way possible, whatever life throws at you. From healthy eating and spending quality time together, to being unashamed to ask for professional help – be it dietary, counseling, help organizing your home or even for sex problems if necessary – a few small changes can go a long way to ensuring a long, happy family life together.
Regular gentle exercise, outdoors if necessary
Exercise releases brain chemicals that help you feel good, relax, and manage stress. It can feel hard to fit exercise in amongst the school runs, grocery shopping, dinner-making, crisis-solving… the trick is to introduce little strolls, every few days, and just increase their frequency, until it becomes habit.
People tend to make resolutions that “from tomorrow, I’ll work out for an hour every day”, and then fall at the first hurdle because it simply isn’t an achievable goal. If you can take your walks from one errand to the next, even better. The kids might complain about walking home from school to start with, but persevere – in the long run, it’ll make them physically and mentally stronger. Try to find the most scenic routes, instead of walking along the main road, if you can, as exercising in nature has been proven to be even better for you than doing it indoors.
Stay up-to-date on the latest medical news
But don’t let it scare you. The newspapers are full of the latest developments, but remember that they’re frequently exaggerated for sensational effect. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and lots of play and de-stressing are the most effective ways to keep your family healthy. Of course, it’s important to keep an eye on their moods, and make sure they’re not eating anything that makes them feel ill; it’s just equally important not to worry when there’s nothing to worry about, because prolonged stress has a physical impact on your immune system, and stops it from working effectively.
Learn what a healthy diet really is
Lots of vegetables, some lean protein (chicken, fish, tofu etc) and whole grains, and a few glasses of water each day. Everything else is a treat, and should be eaten in moderation. Food like this needn’t be boring – don’t forget that you can make things delicious using garlic, spices, char-grilling, dolloping a bit of creme fraiche on top (if you can eat dairy) and cooking your rice in tasty stock.
Play games together
“Couples who play together stay together”, they say, and in my experience that extends to families too. You do have time to play – it’s one of the most important things you can do with your kids – and, if you worry about how silly you’ll look, or that you won’t be any good, it’s time to stop thinking like that and just have fun, instead. Everyone will respect you much more for joining in, than if you sit off to one side being aloof while everyone else dives around playing Wii ping-pong (seriously – Wii ping-pong is hilarious).