Despite New Year's resolutions and the like, January and February lull us back into our hibernation with snow and cold weather, impeding change in habits and lifestyles. Or we're so busy that all our good intentions are put on the backburner right next to the comfort food. But even the busiest of families should be able to take a few steps towards better health. Here are a few almost painless tips.
According to the American Council on Exercise, we still need our sleep! Sleep deprivation directly affects our health and well-being. We heal faster, lose weight better, and our brains function better with more of it. Burning the midnight oil to meet deadlines can work every once in awhile, but as a habit it's not doing anything for us.
All of us need sleep. Not just the kids. Do a sleep survey this week and count how many hours you are getting each night. More than likely you are not getting the full eight, and other members of your household aren't either. What could help?
- WebMD recommends cutting off all caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime. Consider cutting off food and beverages at suppertime.
- Limit the time spent vegging out in front of the television. Save TV for the weekends or just watch the shows you truly enjoy. What you watch could be impeding your sleep.
- Have set bedtimes for the whole family. Kids in bed at 8-9 depending on ages and homework. Adults in bed by 11 p.m. This way, adults still get the alone time and kids get full sleep.
- Bring back meditation, yoga, herbal tea, and baths!
Work on your general fitness.
We cart our kids to any number of activities so that they remain active and get the exercise we need, but what do parents do when they take their kids to T-ball practice or gymnastics? They sit and watch, of course. Parents need to take their own fitness seriously — even when it seems like it doesn't fit into the schedule.
1. Walk more
Take the opportunity to walk as much as possible. Instead of sitting in the stands, why not power walk the perimeter of the park while the kids are drilling? And there's always the option to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Really incorporate it into the day in little bits.
2. Do short workouts
So you don't have time for a half hour/hour workout — make it happen through out the day. Do arm rotations and stretches when you're at your computer, some yoga stretches when you get out of bed and before you go to bed, and walk, walk, walk. Ten minutes here and there throughout the day add up to good fitness practices.
Deal with stress.
A big reason people don't get enough sleep and have no time for fitness is being stressed out. They are all interconnected. Find positive ways to deal with stress. (Getting sleep and more fitness help.)
1. Write it out
What are you stressed about? Write it out on paper or on the computer. No one need ever see your words. If you are working on something for work and staring at a blank screen, odds are there's something blocking you from finishing. What is it? Write it out. Crumple up that paper afterwards and feel better.
2. Talk it out
Not a writer? Talk it out! Even if it is just to the mirror. Scream it out if need be. What's troubling you? Don't let it fester inside. Get it out.
3. Stay positive
Most likely, whatever is stressing you out is not the end of the world and you probably have good company. While there are legitimate times to be worried about impending doom, most of the time we should try to focus on solutions instead of the negativity. What's the worst case scenario? Tell it to yourself. Walk back from there. What are the solutions? Keep them in focus.
It's all about striking a balance.