I recently wrote 6 Steps for Stress-Less Living for Manilla.com. In that post I wrote, "If you feel stressed out, it’s your fault." I think I still mean it. Here's why: stress happens. The only thing you can control is how you think and what you do. The following list is meant to be simple. It's meant to remind you of the things that you can control.
When dad is unhealthy, his child is more likely to be unhealthy. It's the power of example. What you model to your child often comes back to you.
While this is scary, there's a deeper level of scary at play. The health issue is generational. What you do, as a dad, changes a life. How you live and what you teach your child, your child is more likely to teach to his child.
When a dad is involved in his child's life, he can expect:
- better overall infant health
- reduction in the likelihood that his child will smoke or abuse drugs
- more likely to have a stronger vocabulary
- perform better in school
- have a healthier weight
Mental health and fatherly involvement is no different. Someone smarter than me said this: the mind and body are one. If you have a problem with your mental health, it will show up in your body. If you have a problem with the health of your body, it will affect your mind, how you see the world and how you treat people.
We need to get serious; not stressed, but serious, about how we can "get back to basics" and find ways to reduce stress and live happier lives. These are a few basics where I easily go astray.
In order to manage work and family, try these six steps to help combat stress in your life.
1) Exercise: We need to be active. I'm so new at this, but coming home from work and sitting on the sofa isn't as relaxing as you think. I haven't yet conquered "the morning workout" so I come home and immediately change into workout clothes. If I don't do this, exercise will not happen. Getting active will change your life. Trust this skeptic, you only think you don't have the energy to exercise. You will have more energy if you can find a few minutes to exercise. You will feel better if you walk or jog for 30 minutes each day. Get outside when possible. Your body and mind will thank you.
2) Eat “clean”: Over the last year, I’ve lost over 45 pounds. I’ve done wrong things and right things. But my diet has been the single craziest thing I’ve learned to manage, some days, eh, some hours!
Your schedule and your diet are often closely linked. The busier you are the worse you may eat. Healthy eating takes planning. Aside from the occasional, weekend Chipotle (not an official sponsor of this post...someone should tell them they can be!), I'm cooking from home. I know exactly what's in my food because I put it there.
One cheeseburger won’t kill you, but if your diet consists of mostly processed or fast foods it's time to change your diet. Force yourself to try new things like raw veggies and peppers and grill everything! I haven't had a burger in months; now I want one!
3) Sleep: I don’t have this one figured out yet. I still blame my daughters for this even though they are seven and four years old now. Shoot for at least six to eight (ha) hours of sleep a night.
Work in a nap of 20 minutes during the day if you can’t get enough sleep. Simply a few minutes of closing your eyes and breathing will do wonders to help reduce stress. I've read where naps allow folks to get twice as much done in one day as folks who aren't nappers. Yes, "nappers" is a word. I just wrote it.
4) Keep Work at Work: Bringing your work home is a fine way to stress yourself and your family. The secreat to how to balance work and family is this: Leave your work at the door. Not really "at the door." If left "at the door" your work may get rained on unless you have a front porch. In which case, you shouldn't bring your work to your front porch.
I've gotten into the weeds, but here's my point: Stop your car in your driveway; do something, anything, to separate your mind from work before entering your home. Home has its own work. I'm terrible at this. If you have tips that work, tell me in the comments, I'd love to know! It's the iPhone that's my ultimate problem. I'm an addict. I must stop!
5) Date your Spouse: No spouse? Find a friend and get out of the house! The point here is to get out periodically and do something you enjoy. Date your spouse or find a buddy and get to dinner, movie...something. For those with spouses, think about this: a guaranteed way to increase stress is to stop communicating or spending time with your spouse. Not that I have any experience at all with increase my wife's stress. Oh no, not me. I'm perfect and always date my wife periodically!
6) Find a Hobby: A hobby will take your mind off of "stuff." Find something that takes your time and energy completely out of work and "stuff." Something you really enjoy. Experiment with photography, running, anything (that's legal) where you can't be thinking about work while you're doing. What's that one thing that when you do it, time flies by? That's probably a great hobby.
The point with these tips is that you can help get your family healthy while leading by example. Learn to how to be an active dad. If you are healthy, odds are good that your child will be healthy. As dad goes, so goes the family.
What's the one step where you need the most work? Talk to me in the comments or using #247Dad on social.