Healthy Together: Family Resolution
January is often a time when we reflect on ways to improve ourselves in the New Year. While it can be easy to let resolutions slip by the wayside, creating goals as a family can help to build accountability and support to see it through. For 2021, resolve to make positive changes that benefit the whole family and work together to make it happen.
Many resolutions focus on our health — eating healthy and exercising — but don’t forget about your mental health! Mental health is a huge component to overall health and well-being and learning how to manage stress is an important step in creating a healthier you. Find things to do as a family either for a few minutes a day or once a week that bring joy and laughter home. These positive emotions create chemical reactions in your body that promote positive mood, stress relief, and you guessed it, better mental health.
Take it a step further by focusing on gratitude. Whether it is sharing a positive daily experience around the dinner table or creating a gratitude jar, take time to mentally focus on the things you are grateful for in life. Gratitude is another powerful emotion that contributes to physical health. Some of the benefits are lower blood pressure, decreased aches and pains, new energy and motivation. It also boosts the mood of the person on the receiving end of gratitude and creates stronger relationships within family, among friends and loved ones. Look for opportunities to give to others. Though you often don’t get to witness the recipient’s gratitude, the action of serving others and knowing you are doing good has the same powerful effect. It also grants you the opportunity to take the focus away from yourself and possibly the struggles of your own situation by BEING the good you wish to see in the world! Remember, gratitude (and kindness) has a ripple effect.
While we all experience stress, there are times when stress can be significantly reduced or prevented. If you know your particular trigger (say getting your kids ready for school in the morning), look for ways you can plan ahead to make that less stressful. Avoiding unnecessary stress is mentally and physically better for you. Of course, stress isn’t always avoidable so practicing tried-and-true ways to positively cope with your stress is also very important.
While we’re talking about prevention, make sure you have your wellness visits scheduled for the whole family. While meeting with your doctor or pediatrician, be sure to mention any significant changes in mood or behavior. While some changes may be normal, others can be signs of depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Your doctor can refer you to experts who can provide professional treatment, medication management or therapies that are individualized to your needs.
Make this the best year ever by focusing your resolutions on ways to strengthen yourself and your family physically and mentally. While it may not get you rock-hard abs or size 6 jeans, it will create a happier, more cohesive family better prepared to weather anything 2021 has in store.
Laura Walker is the staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions. Canopy offers an array of behavioral health, educational and social service solutions to children and families throughout Mississippi. For more information about solutions offered through Canopy, please visit mycanopy.org or call 800-388-6247.