Everyone wants to have a happy, healthy family. Here are some proven tips for helping your family thrive.
Eat Nutrient Heavy, Minimally Processed Food
Bodies and brains work better when given the proper fuel. Nutrient heavy, minimally processed foods provide the fuel we need. Think vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats and avoiding fried, fast, and prepackaged foods. Eating this food together brings additional benefits of family meal time.
Be Physically Active
Physical activity is good for our physical health and it boosts mood and decreases stress and anxiety. Physical activity can be fun and social as well, increasing its benefits. So, take a family walk, play with your kids, or enjoy a sport together. Just make sure to leave time to relax before bedtime.
Sunlight and being in nature improve mood and decrease stress, so spend some time outside. This can be combined with physical activity and connecting with loved ones to increase the benefits. Remember to use sunscreen and avoid sunlight for two hours before bedtime.
Connect with Loved Ones
Social connections can be the bright spot of our days. Taking time to focus our attention on talking and listening with loved ones also can improve our sense of wellbeing. Try to avoid negative conversations and have fun trying to understand each other’s unique perspective. Great conversation starters can be found online, in books, or even through playing games.
Practice Healthy Sleep Habits
Everyone gets irritable without enough sleep and many people struggle with getting enough sleep. If you need to use an alarm clock to wake up on time, chances are you are shortchanging yourself on sleep. Use your bed only for sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, allowing for enough time based on age and individual needs. Create a dark, quiet, cool, and relaxed environment for sleep. Avoid caffeine for six hours and screens for two hours before bed (both interfere with sleep).
Acknowledging the things we are grateful for boosts happiness. Even practicing trying to recognize those things can change our mindset to focus on the positive. Noticing and sharing the little positive moments each day can bring us together and improve our outlook.
Practice Compassion or Be of Service
Thinking of others kindly and being helpful helps us feel better about ourselves and the world we live in. Plus, it makes the world a kinder, better place. Showing compassion and helping within and outside of the family can improve relationships, build self-esteem, and foster a positive worldview.
Limit Social Media and Smart Phones
Smart phones are not just a distraction when we are driving, they can lead us to miss out on those small, precious moments in life. Additionally, teens who use social media more are unhappier and those who use it less are happier. Setting the phone down for face-to-face time is a fantastic way to make memories and improve wellbeing.
Practice Relaxation or Mindfulness Strategies
Relaxation and mindfulness strategies reduce the physical and psychological effects of stress and improve wellbeing. This includes deep breathing, stretching, meditation, and other activities that allow your mind to be present and your body to relax.
Slow Down and Reduce Stimulation
In a fast-paced world, taking time to slow down and enjoy the peace and quiet is not just a luxury, it is a necessity. Limiting distractions and doing just one thing at a time (or even nothing!) allows us to relax. Besides, multitasking decreases productivity while taking breaks increases productivity.
Learn Something New Together
Not only is learning great for our brains, it gives our self-esteem a boost as we master something new. Learning something together can be a fun bonding opportunity for families, and who knows when those new skills or information will come in handy.
Ask for Help
If you or one of your family members is struggling after trying these strategies, please talk to a medical or mental health provider. Early intervention is key to preventing and treating mental health concerns. Information online can be helpful, just make sure you turn to a reliable source such as The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychological Association, or The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.