Five Simple Steps to Healthy Living

Vicki Steine

It’s summertime, and our theme this month is Impact on the Parent’s Life. We wanted to share with you this article that first ran in 2011, and focuses on one of our favorite topics, taking care of yourself!

Let Food be thy medicine-Hippocrates
 
I remember the first time I traveled with my son on a plane. When they got to the part about putting the oxygen mask on me first, I thought, “no way”! But I immediately realized the wisdom of taking care of myself first. If I was unconscious, what good was I to my son?
It’s the same thing in our daily lives, though we often forget it. Caring for our families, especially with a special needs child, can be a wonderful ride. However, sometimes it can be tumultuous, and we forget about ourselves. As a result, our health and marriages suffer for it. Just like being unconscious versus conscious on a plane, if we are not operating at our optimal level, how can we be at our best for our kids?

So try these 5 Steps to Be at your Best:

1. Get enough sleep
Discover the joys of getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is the time when your body regenerates and heals. If you are sleep deprived, you stand the risk of increasing your susceptibility to illness, weight gain and irritability. (It's hard to be a good parent when you are cranky).

    • Avoid alcohol (2 hours) and caffeine (6 hours) before bedtime
    • Avoid heavy food 2-3 hours before bedtime
    • Do not exercise right before bedtime
    • Create a nice bedtime ritual which may include a hot bath, reading or aroma therapy
    • Avoid electronics at least one hour before bed
    • Make sure the room is totally dark, cool and comfortable
    • Only your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy.
    • Maintain a regular time for going to bed and rising
    • If you still aren't asleep after 15-20 minutes, go to another room and read quietly
    • Keep a pad and pencil handy and jot down thoughts so you can “let them go”

2. Exercise Regularly
Increase your energy and manage your stress.

    • Find something you like to do.
    • Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes every day
    • Find a buddy to do an activity with you; it's harder to blow it off.
    • Get creative: ball room dancing, rock climbing, hiking, rowing may be good options
    • If all else fails, go for a walk!

3. Meditation
Enjoy the benefits of taking some time to just be quiet. Renew and refresh.

    • Turn off the radio, TV and phone.
    • Sit outside on your deck for a few minutes.
    • Take a meditation class.
    • Take a few deep, slow breaths.
    • Learn Tai Chi.
    • Start with just 5 minutes of quiet time and build up.
    • Transform your waiting in the carpool line into special time for you.

4. Take Care of your Relationships
Do not lose sight of your marriage or close friends. It is very important to nurture your close relationships. You have lots of difficult decisions to make raising your kids. Schedule time each week to be with your partner in parenting or significant friends. If married, remember why you got married in the first place. If not, identify people you can turn to for support and encouragement.

    • Get a sitter and go out.
    • Put the kids to bed and TURN OFF the TV so you can talk.
    • Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Hold hands.

5. Nutrition
Good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Our bodies are made up of cells, and those cells are created by the food we eat. A healthy diet will improve your work out, enhance your sleep, and allow you to enjoy your relationships more.

    • Avoid “the white stuff”-- refined sugar and flour
    • Eat whole foods--fruits, vegetables, whole grains
    • Eat quality proteins--organic meats and wild caught fish
    • Avoid processed and fried foods

In order to be an effective parent, it helps a lot to take care of yourself and your adult relationships. Life comes at us fast. Utilize the tools outlined here and you will find the power and stamina to do it well!

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