Tips and Information on Healthy Living

Health Information Newsletter


Investing in Your Family

Families are busier than ever before, so it's important to consciously make an extra effort to let your spouse, children, parents and other special people in your life know how important they are to you. There are lots of ways to do this. Here are some to get you started:

  • Make time to listen thoughtfully to your loved ones. Be careful not to jump in with your opinion too quickly.
  • Schedule time alone with each of your children. Let them decide how they want to spend this special time with you.
  • Make a date with your spouse. Plan something special like you did when you were dating.
  • Take your kids for a walk after dark. Look for stars in the sky and listen for the night noises. Children remember these out of the ordinary times spent with parents.
  • Watch the sunset. Better yet, get up really early and watch it rise.
  • Read books together every day. Don't stop just because your children learn to read.
  • Give lots of realistic, specific praise to your children.
  • Tuck love letters under pillows.
  • Allow each of your children to plan the dinner menu one day each week.
  • Cook together without worrying about the mess you are making.
  • Create a special hand signal that means "I love you" to your family. Use it often.
  • Invite each of your children to go for a ride in the car alone with you. Make your destination a surprise (the park, the ice cream store, etc.) but plan on the ride being half the fun. You'll be amazed at the subjects that your children will talk about in the car!
  • Have a family movie night once a week. Rent a video, pop some popcorn and enjoy the time together.
  • Pull out your old board games and have a game night. Include all generations of your family. Some great games are available on DVD too.
  • Show films or photographs from when you were young. Compare them to your children's photos. Share your family history. Encourage your parents to tell your children about things that you did when you were young.
  • Tell every single member of your family how much you love them. Tell them often.
  • Never underestimate the power of a hug!

Be careful to keep family activity schedules from becoming a burden. It's important to have time for some of the little things that create the best memories.

You can see that most of these ideas for busy families do not cost a lot of money but they do require an investment of your time. Children grow up fast, and the best thing you can give them is an armful of memories to look back on. They will stay connected to you because you took the time to connect with them!


Learning to Relax

Most people can gauge how much stress they're under by the amount of physical and emotional tension they feel. Too much tension can be unhealthy as well as uncomfortable, which is why relaxation is so important. Relaxation provides a way for you to reduce some of the tensions developed as a result of stress-which in turn helps you to function more efficiently.

One of the ways the body copes with the effects of stress is by "powering down" every night when you sleep. During sleep, your body becomes very relaxed and your heart rate, pulse, respiration, blood pressure and body temperature decrease. This gives your body and mind a chance to renew themselves and allows you to face the next day's stress with a fresh supply of physical and mental vigor. And while relaxation isn't sleep, of course, it does produce many of the same benefits of a good night's sleep:

  • Decreased muscle tension
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Improved immune-system functioning
  • Reduced edginess or irritability
  • Improved concentration

In effect, relaxation does the opposite of what stress does, giving the body a break and helping to counteract many of the long- and short-term physical problems that stress can produce. Relaxation can also be a powerful tool in managing pain. It can help to reduce the muscle tension that often accompanies injury or illness, and can provide a distraction from pain and worry. Finally, even a brief relaxation exercise can provide a quick energy boost or give you a time-out from concentrating on a difficult problem or project. Often, when you return to a challenging problem after a short relaxation break, you're able to focus better and generate new solutions.

Relaxation Tips

Practice

Learning to relax is like learning to play golf: It takes practice to relax, especially if you're used to being under a great deal of stress.

Understand relaxation is part of a healthy life.

Relaxation may sound like another term for goofing off, but it can be beneficial to your health. Research shows relaxation training can help alleviate the symptoms associated with many medical and psychological disorders, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic and acute pain