Family Resolutions for a Healthier 2018

Another holiday season has come and gone and here we are the beginning of a bright new year. The start of a new year is a special time full of opportunity and potential, but it is also a time of year that is difficult for many people. The nights are long and dark and there are no longer the festivities of Christmas to look forward to, spring is far away and many of us can’t escape the often oppressive cold. We also tend to feel an obligation
to make an unrealistic and unfocused list of resolutions, only feeling worse by the end of January when we have failed to maintain an unreasonable new workout regime or diet. We make such an effort to make everything a little bit more special for our families, our communities, and even for complete strangers during the holidays. We make time to see the special people in our life, even for a coffee or a glass of wine. And perhaps most notably, we are in general kinder, friendlier, and more open than we are at any other time of year. Why can’t we incorporate some of these ideas into a simpler list of resolutions for your family, and find a bit of that wonderful Danish hygge (which very simply refers toparticipating in simple rituals or habits that result in a warm, cosy, happy feeling)? Here are four simple resolutions you can make with your family that will lead to both a happier and healthier 2018:

Family Meals
Perhaps your family already prioritizes having dinner together. For many of us, however, our lives get so busy between work, social obligations, exercise, school, and after school activities, that a simple dinner hour is rarely a priority or even a possibility. Start with picking one night a week, plan a meal, and make it together before sitting down and eating as a family. Allow everyone to take a turn picking their favourite dish/meal, with an emphasis on healthy, whole food based meals. Encouraging your kids to participate in this aspect of making healthier food choices will help shape the way they will be making food choices for the rest of their lives. Be adventurous and try new things, maybe even making a booklet of your recipes at the end of the year, complete with comments and adjustments.

Move Together
Exercise is such an important part of health and much like healthy eating, our initial introduction to activity is through what we do with our families growing up. Exercise is the single most impactful lifestyle change you can make, other than quitting smoking. Our family ate whole foods, went cross country skiing together, and as kids we
were always playing outside. These habits undoubtedly shaped who I am. These are different times, and families are definitely busier with “activities” which makes it challenging to fit family-focused exercise in, but making the time will give your family lasting memories as well as teaching your kids about how fun exercising can be which will result in healthier behaviours when they are adults. Pick an activity with your family that you would enjoy doing together, even if it’s as simple as a half day on the ski hill every week. Pick one thing and be consistent.

Family, Unplugged
Our devices are amazing. Our phones, iPads, and computers have completely changed the way we work, communicate, travel and essentially live our lives. They are a necessity for most of us, but we have to find ways of limiting our attachment to them and our time on them for our sanity, but most importantly for our health. Make a rule for your family about your devices, perhaps limiting time to a certain amount, having no devices at the dinner table, or even just putting them away for an hour before bedtime. There is no right or wrong way to limit your family’s use of devices, but it is important to limit it somehow. Essential, even.

Sacred Sleep
Sleep is such a critical time for our bodies, and even more so for our growing children. Much work gets done while we sleep, and the impact of long term sleep deprivation can be catastrophic, increasing your risk of many diseases down the road. Establish a bedtime routine for everyone in your house, and help to create a sacred
sleep space with your children that will encourage quality sleep. Create a routine of keeping bedrooms clean, have soft lighting immediately prior to bedtime, reducing stimulation for an hour or so before you want them to go to bed, including no screens. This helps to send our brains the message that it is time for us to shift into sleep mode and will result in longer and better quality sleep for everyone.

These may seem like small things, but it is the art in these simple things that will change your life for the better throughout the year and not just at Christmas. The Danes created hygge as a way of breaking up the monotony of the dark and cold winter, thus having small but special rituals creating a bit of that holiday feeling everyday. Call it what you will, but resolve to make these changes with your family and in a year, see what you have created as a result.

Happy New Year!