Be honest. How healthy are you? If your report card says ‘could try harder’, it’s time to start putting your health first. Our health is something we should never take for granted. The good news is that making simple changes can make all the difference. Self care is a vital part of being an autism parent. Once I realized that I would be a better advocate and parent for Logan by taking care of myself it was a no brainer. That and eating the cement at Epcot when I passed out leading me to spend multiple days in the hospital. That incident opened my eyes to how important my heath was to everyone.
Most people associate poor heart health with older people, but it’s never too early to start looking after your heart. The healthier your lifestyle, the lower the risk of cardiac complications, such as angina and cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is an emergency situation, which occurs when the heart stops beating. It is possible to save lives with CPR and defibrillators that are available in Foremost Equipment’s Zoll AED Plus selection, but like everything in life, prevention is always better than cure. The most beneficial changes we made to our lifestyle included exercising more as well as paying more attention to what we ate. We increased our intake of whole gluten free grains, fruit and vegetables in addition to lean meat, fish and poultry while reducing sugar and salt consumption. Bake, grill and steam instead of frying and try to avoid processed foods. We try to get out and about more as a family and make an effort to be more active. Play around in the yard, go to the park or hit the beach for a long walk once a day. It’s particularly important to prioritize heart health if you have family history of heart problems, you have high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. See your doctor on a regular basis and seek advice if you want to make lifestyle changes. Remember I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on this blog.
Healthy eating is not just beneficial for your heart. A healthy, balanced diet should provide your body with everything it needs to function properly. You need vitamins and minerals to carry out important functions and to aid growth, development and recovery. When you’re planning menus for the week ahead, think about nutrition and include foods that have benefits for your health. Good examples of staple foods that are packed with nutrients include oily fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. If you need any help with improving your diet, your doctor will be able to recommend healthy eating plans. You can also search for nutritious recipes on one of my Pinterest boards.
Mental well being
Being healthy isn’t just about having a strong immune system or being able to run a half marathon or hit your 5-a-day target. Mental health should also be a priority for every family. Promote open discussion, let your kids and your partner know that you’re there to talk, and try and take advantage of the time you have together. Plan fun outings, take care of each other and let everyone know that it’s ok to admit that they’re not feeling ok. As an autism parent, it’s easy to get burnt out on the day to day caring of your child’s intense needs. When Logan was younger , this translated into ducking into the closet and taking several deep breaths when I thought I would lose it. It means not feeling guilty for asking someone to watch your child while you go on date night. Take a shower while Dad is home and lock the door so no one can come in. You might have to be creative but be sure to find a way to recharge.
You should never take your health for granted. If your family could do better when it comes to putting health first, now is the time to make some changes. Never feel guilty for prioritizing your health. You make your family stronger by being the best you. Besides, you can’t help your child if you’re dead. Healthy or dead are your only two choices.