Every family wants to create an environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle, but the busyness of everyday life can cause healthy routines to fall by the wayside. Creating, executing, and maintaining healthy habits in a family setting takes time, and that time can often slip away if it isn’t prioritized; however, there are few things more important than the promotion of physical and mental health in your family. Practicing healthy habits together is the key to success; there’s no support system quite like the one that you live with. There’s a good chance you and your family are already practicing some of these habits, but a little extra encouragement never hurts, so let’s take a look at three healthy habits for the whole family.
This one is often spoken about, but can pose problems especially when everyone is busy, and less-healthy options are numerous and easily accessible. Step one when it comes to eating healthy, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition recommends stocking your shelves with good, nutritious foods; availability is half the battle when it comes to instilling healthy eating patterns. Still, with the hectic nature of modern family life, having a schedule that is aligned for the whole family can be nearly impossible. Not everyone has the time to make three healthy meals a day for the entire family, and if you don’t have young children you can’t exactly control what is and isn’t in someone’s diet on a daily basis. This is where step two comes in.
Step two is working to inject healthy eating habits into the family dynamic. This can be intimidating at first, because not everyone is going to have the same concept of “healthy.” However, one of the great things about family is that they can act as a great infrastructure for support and positive reinforcement. If everyone agrees to make moves to start eating a healthier diet, you can encourage your family to make nutritious food decisions, and they can encourage you in return.
It’s also important to remember to sit down and talk about what kind of food decisions you want to aim for as a family. Just because one person is comfortable with a particular sort of diet, that doesn’t mean that everyone will be. You want to find a middle ground that everyone can agree on that can promote healthy eating without totally eliminating the foods that some of your family members like. It’s not about getting rid of pizza night, it’s about not having pizza night twice a week.
Put the “Active” in Family Activities
Lounging on the couch and binge watching Netflix definitely has a place when it comes to family hang-outs, but it’s important to mix more relaxing activities with ones that involve a little exercise–and adventure. Whether it’s going on a family hike or just walking around town and doing some shopping, taking part in some physical activities as well as some that are more chill is an important balance to strike. Plus, doing some more physically active things aren’t just good for your health, they also help to create a diversity in your family time, which can stop things from becoming boring or repetitive. One good way to build a diversity of activities is to take everyone’s ideas into account; not only will this keep things interesting, it also ensures that everyone feels listened to! Here is what the American Heart Association recommends for healthy exercise for grownups and kids.
Making time for healthy eating habits and physical activity is important in every family, but just as important (if not more so) is taking the time to really talk to one another to create an environment with positive focus on mental and emotional health. Communication is key to any interpersonal relationship, and it goes double when it comes to the people closest to you.
Communicating, as the New York Times notes, can take many forms: from chatting about each other’s days to showing genuine interest in things that your family member is interested in, keeping the lines of communication consistently open is not only a key part of maintaining a healthy family relationship, but will also make it easier to sense if there might be something wrong. Communicating will give you the ability to be a helping hand earlier, and hopefully before a problem develops into something serious. This goes in the other direction: if you’re having problems, being able to talk about them with someone you can trust is great for emotional support and mental health.
One of the more difficult parts of communicating to close family members is working through conflicts. Conflicts are inevitable in essentially every family, and can be hard to navigate properly without hurting feelings or saying the wrong thing. When you do encounter conflict, as hard as it may be, it’s important to work through it. Talking things through and getting to the root of a conflict can be the difference between having a good relationship with family members and having simmering tension. Even though working out an argument isn’t exactly fun, it’s the kind of hard work that needs to be done to maintain a healthy family dynamic.
When people think of family health, often they think about eating veggies and going kayaking, and both of those things are great! But having healthy habits in a family unit is multi-faceted work, which needs both healthy physical habits paired with healthy emotional habits. These three habits are really only the tip of the iceberg, but we think they’re a great starting point when it comes to developing an overall healthy family dynamic. A family that focuses on health in all of its iterations is a family that puts love, support, safety, and good habits at the top of its list of priorities, and that’s something every family strives for. If you’re interested in further reading on healthy living when it comes to your children, we’d recommend this article!