Whether you’re new to being a dad or this is your 20th Father’s Day, you’re surely in for a day where your family celebrates you, be it with gifts or a special dinner. However, have you considered giving your family a gift this year, possibly in the form of taking care of yourself?
Every year, the week leading up to Father’s Day is focused on men’s health as a reminder for men to look out for themselves, as well as encouraging their loved ones to step up and help the men in their lives lead a healthier life. After all, no one wants to miss out on a Father’s Day with the important guy in their life.
If you want to take the first steps to improving your health for your sake and your family’s, here are some simple ways to get started.
(Plus, by doing these things, you’re modeling healthy behavior for your spouse, children, or grandchildren to follow! Talk about being a superman!)
1. Get Enough Sleep
Maybe it’s a no-brainer, but if you’re losing sleep because of a new baby in the family or work commitments, getting those essential seven to nine hours can feel impossible. Try to set up a sleep schedule with your partner that allows you to accomplish your sleep goals without compromising your plans for the day. Maybe aim to be in bed an hour after the kids lay down for the night, or cut back on TV time in the evening and swap it for a screen-free alternative (as it allows you to relax and fall asleep quicker without the influence of blue light).
Even if you can’t get traditional shut-eye, even making a point to sit back to relax and rest can help! Again, just avoid screen time—just because you can’t fall asleep doesn’t mean that you should watch TV or catch up on work via your laptop. Find a comfy spot, be it your bed or your favorite chair and relax. Maybe you’ll fall asleep while you’re at it, but even just intentionally resting your eyes can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
2. Focus on Healthy Food Choices
Sure, grabbing a burger and fries with the guys sounds like a great thing, but how many leafy green things have you eaten recently (and no, the lettuce on the burger doesn’t count for one serving). While you don’t have to cut out those guilty pleasure foods completely, limiting food and drinks with high sugar, salt and fat content is the best way to go.
While you’re at it, also focus on adding more fruit and vegetables to your diet. It’s one of the best and simplest ways to get more vitamins and minerals and take a preventative step against developing chronic illness later, such as heart disease and diabetes.
3. Quit Smoking and Drinking
Sure, things are good in moderation (for instance, having a beer with your father-in-law is fine, as long as it isn’t an every night kind of thing). However, smoking is definitely one of those guilty pleasures to cut out entirely. From the damage that smoking wrecks on the body to all the family things you miss out on because of a smoke break, it’s definitely not worth keeping the habit.
In a way, the same thing goes for alcohol. In general, it seems that men reach for smoking and drinking as stress relievers and social activities, but these things can easily get out of hand, particularly if one develops an addiction and dependence on these substances. If you feel that this applies to you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help! Whether it’s with your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous or getting advice from a helpline, any step to quitting is one in the right direction!
4. Find Ways to Respond to Stress Healthily
As noted previously, some coping mechanisms for stressful events in your life aren’t the best. However, more often than not, these habits were picked up because they seemed like the simplest solutions. If you know where to look and how to ask for help, this can easily not be the case.
For instance, exercise can be a great and productive stress-reliever that you can do alone or take the whole family with you. Another thing to consider? Finding support, be it with your spouse, your friends or a trusted therapist. (A therapist can provide extra, professional insight and advice for any part of your life, and can be a great way to keep a finger on your mental health’s pulse.)
5. Go to the Doctor
Sure, there may nothing apparently wrong and you may feel just fine, but when was the last time you had a physical? When you had your shots updated? Were screened for potential health risks?
There are a million and one good reasons to visit your doctor, from learning and understanding your family history more or showing your children how important their health is by your example. Don’t resist the reminders and make an appointment so you can be better prepared for the future and for your family.
Whether you implement these health tips gradually or commit to a healthy life revamp immediately, just remember: there are so many people looking up to you and hoping that they can spend as many Father’s Days with you as they can. Do your part, and don’t let them down.