I love my Dad. Sure we’ve had our challenges over the years, but that’s what strong relationships are built on: working through differences with understanding and love. Overall he’s a pretty fantastic guy and I’m grateful for him every day.
Even though we live over 4000 km away from each other our relationship has not changed, it just looks different. He’s still the guy I call when my toilet is running and he walks me through how to fix it. Or I call him when the water pressure in the utility sink is low. He helps me correct the situation within minutes, on FaceTime.
He’s driven, dedicated and has the best work ethic of anyone I know. His ethics have rubbed off on my sister and I and it’s taken us far in life. He’s great with money and he’s extremely generous. He can repair or build anything. Like the time he and I fixed my 1997 Pontiac Bonneville’s exhaust pipe using a tin can. Is that even legal? It was the 90’s.
All jokes aside, my Dad’s family has a long history of heart disease. He’s the third son of six boys. He has lost his two older brothers from heart and cancer related complications. My grandfather has survived a quadruple by-pass and is still with us to tell the story. If there is anything my Dad has learned from watching his family struggle with their heart and health, it’s that you have to take ownership for your eating habits, movement, and your overall choices.
I do my part in helping my Dad make healthy choices even from afar. For the last few years on Christmas and his birthday, I sent him a zip-loc bag full of fresh walnuts to protect his heart. It’s the little things that make all the difference in our day and our lives.
This June I want to help you celebrate the men in your life and Father’s Day by talking about men’s health. Here are 5 ways you can support men to live healthier and happier lives:
Eat a Rainbow
Men are at greater risk for health issues like heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. In order to maintain good health and lower the risk for these conditions, eating a diet full of fresh fruits and veggies is the simplest way. On top of eating an array of fresh colourful foods, limiting saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats will also be beneficial. Enjoying fresh produce, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains while limiting deep fried foods, meats, and processed foods, you are offering the greatest protection you can to your body.
Families who play together stay together. Everything in life is more fun with someone else so make plans that include the entire family. Being inclusive means doing things with friends or family members that will increase the chances that both parties will actually commit. Having someone to hold you accountable to that daily walk, bike ride, or jog will help you stay on track to better health. It’s a win, win for everyone!
Encourage Hobbies (bonus points if they involve movement!)
Hobbies can be anything that we enjoy and that help us manage our stress. Things like art, music, sports, dance, hunting, gardening, fishing, kayaking, and hiking are all great options. Sometimes life gets far too hectic leaving little to no time to do things simply because we enjoy them. As we know, life’s too short to not have fun. Be a kid again, be creative and simply be.
Man Cave Self-Care
My Dad has THE BEST man-cave. It’s fully equipped with a fridge, large screen TV, pool table, and reclining chairs. It’s his stress-free haven and he deserves it. Letting Dad spend time alone unwinding in the man-cave has proven to lower his stress and increase his happiness. And you can use the time apart to recharge, restore, and enjoy your own self-care activities.
Remember to Breathe
Society at large seems to have this idea that men have to be the strong ones, don’t show emotion, be the primary breadwinners (although this is changing), and hold the weight of the household. This does not scream equality and it leads to more stress and unnecessary pressure. We each play our part in the family unit and we all need time to stop, breath, meditate, or unwind. Deep breathing resets the parasympathetic nervous system and calms the mind and body. Remind Dad to take a few extra slow and methodical breaths when times are tough, it really does help!
Finding ways to support the men in our lives so that they find enjoyment alongside responsibility is super important. And, as much as finding ways to connect, be inclusive and enjoy each other’s company is necessary, so is taking time apart. When we take space from one another we are reminded of how much we appreciate and love one another.
Like everything in life, we want to strike a balance between DOing and BEing. Eating well, moving, keeping stress in-check, taking time away, breathing deeply and making time for connection will help Dad enjoy health and well-being, today and always.
Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there and Happy 64th Birthday Dad, you’re one in a million.
What’s something special you do for your Dad on Father’s Day or any time of year?