Raising a family isn’t easy. Between the chaos of work, school, and everyday routine, there’s a lot to do in little time—and it can be tempting to cancel doctor’s appointments, pick up fast food, or ignore your health because you don’t have enough time.
However, it’s important to create healthy habits early on to encourage your family to make smart choices. The World Health Organization defines health as the “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It’s essential to consider all aspects of health from the inside out—a balanced diet, regular check-ups, and self-care are all crucial to managing your family’s physical and mental health.
With that in mind, here’s how to take charge of your family’s health to ensure everyone in your household lives happy and healthy lives.
Schedule regular check-ups.
Scheduling regular check-ups for your family can help find potential health issues before they become a bigger problem. Regular check-ups help your family’s primary care provider detect health conditions and diseases early, giving your family the best chances of getting the right treatment early on.
In addition to early detection, regular check-ups can increase your lifespan and improve your health, reduce healthcare costs over time by avoiding costly health services, and help you stay up-to-date on the latest medical information and treatment options. Above all else, regular screenings and routine check-ups can help your family live a longer, healthier life.
For children, regular check-ups create a solid foundation for healthy growth and development. Check-ups are important regardless of age—and you should continue scheduling regular check-ups for infants, children, and adolescents. Sometimes, children who appear healthy have an underlying medical problem, and check-ups can help clinicians detect the problem early on.
On the other hand, adults should schedule annual check-ups. Adult preventive health screening typically includes an annual wellness check-up, cancer screenings, sensory screenings, and any necessary immunizations.
Eat a balanced diet.
Eating a balanced diet is important at every stage of life. For children, healthy diets help ensure proper growth and development. As you get older, you need a healthy diet to give your body energy throughout the day and prevent health conditions, such as diabetes and health disease. According to the myocarditis research experts at the Myocarditis Foundation, it’s important to eat foods that protect the heart, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats, to manage myocarditis and prevent heart failure.
However, everyone’s nutritional needs are different. Between age, weight, height, activity level, and other health conditions, it can be challenging to ensure everyone in your household is meeting their daily nutrient and calorie needs. For the best results, talk to your family’s primary care physician to find out more about you and your children’s dietary needs. Depending on your current situation, some questions to ask your doctor include:
- How many calories should my kids eat each day?
- What kind of physical activity do you recommend?
- Obesity and weight-related conditions run in my family. Are my children at an increased risk?
To get everyone involved in healthy eating, take turns plotting menus and preparing meals, try finding alternatives for sugary drinks, and bring your family grocery shopping on a full stomach. With a little supervision, even young children can help plan meals. Ultimately, the more involved everyone is in meal planning, the more they’ll want to eat what’s on the menu—and treating your family like a team can encourage everyone to work together.
Whenever possible, eat dinner together as a family. It can be hard to have dinner on the table at the same time every night, especially when you take work and school into account. However, scheduling dinner for the same time each night can help your family members plan around it. When families eat together, they tend to make healthier choices and develop healthier eating habits.
Take care of your oral health.
Your dental health is an important component of your overall health and quality of life. As a result, scheduling regular dentist appointments is just as important as staying up-to-date on your doctor’s appointments.
Your dental care needs change throughout your life, and it’s imperative to attend to the dental needs of your family members. For babies and toddlers, tooth decay is a big problem, and teething infants are especially vulnerable to cavities. Meanwhile, for younger children and teenagers, it’s typically an uphill battle to maintain good dental hygiene habits. Consequently, regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential.
For parents, it can be easy to let dental check-ups and cleanings slip by, but routine dental exams are essential. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can help prevent gingivitis, gum inflammation, and periodontal disease. As you get older, health conditions—including diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease—can manifest first in the mouth, according to Mayo Clinic. Scheduling regular dental exams can help you maintain a healthy smile and catch anything as early as possible.
When it comes to finding the right dentist for your family members, it’s essential to find a healthcare provider that addresses your dental health needs with quality and compassion, according to the dental experts at Dexter Family Dentistry. To find the right dentist for your household, try asking friends and family members for recommendations, or start with a location-specific Google search, like “family dentistry in Dexter,MI.“
Don’t forget about your mental health.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Taking care of your mental well-being—and maintaining healthy relationships with your family members—can promote productivity and effectiveness and help you keep an open line of communication in your household.
Make sure you take some time every day to check in with yourself and encourage your family to make self-care a priority. Stretch, meditate, pray, or engage in other activities that you enjoy to help alleviate stress and anxiety. Opening up to your family members about difficult issues—and encouraging them to do the same—can help you work through any fears and concerns. Technology can also exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, so aim to limit your family’s social media and news consumption whenever possible.
Remember: there’s nothing wrong with seeking therapy to help get your mental health into the healthiest shape. Especially in adolescents, hormonal changes can trigger emotional extremes, and it can be stressful for adolescents to cope with painful emotions and feelings. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a common type of talk therapy, is an empirically based treatment that teaches individuals skills to manage their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
With individualized modules for adolescent, teenager, and adult patients, comprehensive DBT therapy programs help families learn to importance of mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT therapy is an effective treatment for common mental health concerns, including suicidal behaviors, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use issues. Even if your family isn’t experiencing any mental health concerns, working with a psychologist is one of the best ways to improve family functioning and take care of your mental well-being.
If you’re the head of your household, making sure that everyone in your household is happy and healthy can be challenging. It’s important, now more than ever, to monitor your family’s physical and emotional—and taking simple steps to manage your family’s health can help ensure your family lives long and happy lives.