Ways to optimise your physical and mental health while juggling the demands of parenthood
Being a dad is a tough gig. While it is one of the most rewarding roles a man can take in life, it doesn’t fall short on challenges. As a father, it’s easy to prioritise your children’s health over your own physical and mental health. But, at the end of the day, one cannot pour from an empty cup, so it’s essential to make time to focus on self-care and healthy living.
Since achieving the balance of child-to-dad care may seem an impossible feat, this father’s day we’re here to help you out with healthy tips to optimise your own health as a dad. Think of it as your personal form of health insurance to stay healthy, fit, and incredibly good-looking for longer.
Proactively look after your hair
If you’re a dad, chances are you’re no stranger to stress. And, as anyone who’s ever experienced hair loss knows, stress is one of the many causes of hair loss and thinning hair. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent or slow down hair loss due to stress, including:
Getting plenty of rest
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body doesn’t have the energy to properly repair itself, including your hair follicles. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and give yourself permission to nap when you can.
Eating a healthy diet
Turns out eating a healthy diet isn’t only good for your waistline, it’s also good for your hair growth. A wholesome diet provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly and promote healthy hair growth.
Trying hair loss treatments
42% of men experience moderate to extensive hair loss in their lifetime. With the help of topical and oral hair loss treatments, a lot more of these men are likely to see fresh hair follicles popping up on their scalp.
If you’re a dad living in Australia who needs help with hair loss, Stagger doctors can prescribe hair loss treatments online, and have them delivered fast to your door, leaving you with more time to spend with your fam!
Exercise helps to relieve stress and promote circulation, both of which are essential for healthy hair growth.
Reducing stress in your life
This may seem easier said than done, but finding ways to manage the stress in your life can delay the onset of hair loss. If you’re constantly under stress, it’s bound to take a toll on your overall health, including your hair growth.
Maintain healthy habits in the kitchen
As a dad, you often have to juggle a lot of responsibilities. From working long hours to fixing up the house, it can be difficult to find time to make and eat healthy foods. But by making some simple changes to your diet, you have the ability to enjoy the health benefits of boosted energy levels, improved immunity, weight management, and overall wellness.
As a general guide to healthy eating as a dad:
Make sure to eat enough protein
Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, so it’s important to include plenty of protein-rich foods in your daily diet. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and eggs.
Reduce salt, red meat and saturated fat
Excess salt, red meat, and saturated fat are all linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure in men. Instead, replace these foods with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are essential for good health.
Limit processed foods
Consider processed food the opposite of healthy food. They are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats that can lead to weight gain and chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Try to limit your intake of processed foods and instead focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.
Avoid sugary drinks
If all the dads in Australia consumed excessive amounts of sugary drinks, we’d have a pandemic of overweight fathers on our hands. Sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks are a form of junk food that can be detrimental to your health. Instead, choose water, or kombucha if you’re chasing that refreshing fizz factor.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
It’s fair to say that many men enjoy a thirst-quenching beer at the end of the working week, and sometimes it’s easy to let that one beer escalate into a binge drinking session (especially when other men are encouraging you to continue). The thing is; alcohol can have a negative impact on men’s health, with excessive alcohol consumption increasing the risk of coronary heart disease in healthy men.
To protect yourself from an increased risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or health issues, adult males should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.
We can all appreciate a good dad bod. But, if you can sense the weight around your waist stretching beyond a healthy range, it’s time to amp up the physical activity levels in your life. We get that finding the time and motivation to exercise can be a struggle when you’re a busy dad. But, with the health benefits of improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, improved mood, and reduced stress levels, staying active is a no-brainer.
Tips on how to stay active as a dad:
Schedule time for physical activity
Set aside time each week for physical activity. This could involve going for a run, playing catch in the backyard, swimming early morning laps in the pool, or signing up at a local sports club. Remember; exercise is a form of preventive care, so it deserves a spot in your calendar.
Make it a family affair
Whether you have a new baby, or a child of older age, involving your kids in your physical activity will not only help you to stay active, but it will also be a good opportunity to spend quality time with your children.
In the ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ community randomised controlled trial – a community-based healthy lifestyle program for fathers and their children – it was found that physical activity improved health outcomes and behaviours in fathers and children. So, encouraging healthy habits and better outcomes for your children’s physical activity and health really can be as simple as leading by example and including your kids in your workouts.
After reaching a fitness goal, treat yourself to a reward, like a new pair of sneakers or a massage. This will help you stay motivated to continue being active. And, if you want to pass the health benefits of exercise on to other dads in your social network, invite them to participate in a physical competition or challenge. Perhaps winning the competition will be the only reward you need to work out harder and more regularly.
Get enough sleep
As a father, one of the most difficult things to deal with is no sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for family health, but it is especially important for parents, as they need to be well-rested in order to handle the demands of parenting. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Tips on how to get better sleep as a father:
Drink caffeine in moderation
Caffeine can be a great way to perk yourself up when you’re feeling super tired from managing the demands of parenthood. However, too much caffeine can actually make you more anxious and irritable. Stick to one or two cups of coffee or tea per day.
Take naps when you can
When you’re struggling to hit a full night of Z’s, don’t feel guilty for taking a nap whenever you can squeeze one in. Even a short 20-minute power nap during the day can be your best mate when it comes to making you feel more energised.
Create a bedtime routine
Setting a bedtime routine is one of those healthy habits that may seem silly in theory, but is totally worthwhile in the long term. By planning your evening wind-down, you’re physically and mentally preparing yourself to relax and fall asleep more easily.
Setting a good morning routine may also help! Find out how a good morning routine can transform your life.
Avoid screen time before bedtime
The blue light from screens can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle – aka your circadian rhythm. If you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid watching TV, working on your computer, or using your phone for at least an hour before bedtime.
Practice relaxation techniques
There are a number of different relaxation techniques that can help you fall asleep. Some effective methods include meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Talk to your doctor
If you’re still struggling to get enough sleep, talk to your doctor about other options. They may be able to help you out with prescription sleep medications or other treatment options to help.
Take time out for yourself
Taking time out for yourself on a regular basis can help you to de-stress and refill your own cup, providing both mental health and physical health benefits. Time spent mastering your hobbies, relaxing, or catching up with friends can also help you to feel like a normal human who has a life beyond your role as a dad.
Tips to take more time for yourself as a dad:
Wake up early
If you can, try to wake up a little earlier than the rest of the family. This way, you can have some time to yourself before your children wake up and start demanding your attention.
Stay up late
Once the kids are in bed, take advantage of the free time to read a book, watch TV, relax, or connect with your partner (need help to last longer in the bedroom? We’ve got you).
Take a break during the day
If you can, try to take a break during the day to get outdoors for some fresh air, take a short walk, or just sit and relax with a cup of coffee in the sun.
Find time on weekends
Weekends are often the time of the week to work through your endless list of house chores and errands. They’re also a great time to find balance by carving out some time for yourself to catch your mates for a beer or morning surf.
Get help from others
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, close friends, or other family members. If you can delegate some of your responsibilities or call on friends or family to look after your children, you’ll have more time to focus on taking care of yourself.
Stay connected with your children
It can be challenging to stay connected as a dad. You’re busy with work, your kids have their own lives, and you can easily slip into feeling like you’re just not on the same page. But, there are plenty of ways to stay connected as a dad, even when life gets busy, including:
Making time for your kids, even if only for a few minutes each day
Whether you’re helping your kids with their homework, taking them to the park, or just sitting down for a quick chat, making time to spend with your kids is crucial for staying connected.
Being involved in their lives
Show interest in what your kids are doing and what’s going on in their world. Start with baby steps, such as starting a conversation about their day, their friends, and their interests.
Being supportive, even when they make mistakes
It’s important for your kids to know that you’re there for them, no matter what. Whether they’re dealing with a tough situation at school or they made a mistake, let them know that you love them and you’re there for them.
Staying positive and upbeat
Children pick up on your mood, so if you’re feeling stressed or down, it can impact your relationship with them. Instead, try to focus on the positive and stay upbeat around your kid. You may even score bonus points for staying positive with the surprise of their father’s day and birthday gift ideas.
Stay connected with friends and family
With the commitments of parenthood, it’s easy to let your social life fall by the wayside. But staying connected with your loved ones is important for your mental health and well-being. It can help you relieve stress, feel more supported, and improve your overall mood. Plus, dads who have strong social support systems are generally healthier and happier.
Here are some tips for staying connected with friends and family as a dad:
Make time for phone calls and video chats
If you can’t meet up in person, make an effort to connect with your friends and family via phone or video chat. Set aside time each week to catch up with them.
Join social groups
Whether it’s a local football club, trivia team, or running squad, social groups are a great way to stay connected with existing friends, while giving yourself the chance to expand your social circle by meeting new people.
Volunteer in your child’s community
If you’re thinking of striking two birds with one stone, volunteer to help out at your child’s school, community, or sports club. By doing so, you’ll be supporting your child and the community in a social atmosphere at the same time.