We talk a lot about wellness as it relates to you, as an individual, but no woman (or man) is an island and it’s impossible to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit without community, so this month I want to address wellness in the context of family.
Whether it be a more traditional biological family, a chosen family, or a soul family, for many of us this is the most important community we will ever belong to, and our relationship to that community can greatly impact our overall health and well-being (1).
In this blog post I’m sharing a few ways that we can be well and healthy with our families, but before I dig into the topic in-depth, I want to define family.
Many of us are taught that family has a very specific look and definition – two married adults and their children – but family can be defined in many different ways. There are same-sex partners, unmarried partners, and single men and women with or without children, and while they may not fit the traditional image of family, they are still a family.
We can also belong to a family that isn’t biological, a group of individuals that we chose to be in close community and partnership with – our chosen family.
Personally, I belong to three families, my biological family, and two non-traditional family units.
My biological family is more traditional, composed of my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, and cousins.
I also recently married an amazing man and became a stepmother, or “soul mother” as I like to call it. I didn’t give birth to my stepchildren, but I consider it an honor and privilege to love and care for three amazing humans. They are my family.
In addition, I have my chosen family here at Vitality Natural Health Care. I consider everyone in this community, from patients to staff part of my family. As staff members at Vitality Natural Health Care, we spend at least 8 hours a day with each other, working together in community. We are a family, and we welcome and treat each one of our patients as if they are a part of our family.
So my first piece of advice for you in the context of family wellness is to find your family.
Studies have shown that people who feel lonely and isolated are at a much greater risk of developing illness (2, 3), so even if you have to think outside the box to create your family unit, make the effort to do so. Familial bonds and a sense of belonging are essential to your health – physical, mental, and emotional.
My second piece of advice, once you’ve defined your family unit is to examine your relationship to your family – is it loving, supportive, and nourishing? Or is it causing you unmanageable stress, pain, and suffering?
It’s not enough to simply have a family. In order to be well, your experience as part of your family has to be healthy. For that to happen, you must first have a healthy relationship with yourself.
If your relationship with yourself is not balanced and healthy, it can negatively affect your family and the ways that you interact with and engage with others. It can also impact and influence the way your family engages with you.
Once you’ve established your family unit, here are some things that you can do together to maintain your overall health and well-being:
Support your family in getting quality sleep, 7-9 hours each night. Setting a family bedtime and creating the time and space to decompress at the end of the day or at mealtime will help everyone rest more peacefully.
We’re social creatures, but sometimes we can get so caught up on our phones and other technological devices that we neglect in-person connection. Make mealtime time a tech-free zone, a time to converse and share challenges and positive experiences from the day. This helps strengthen family bonds and creates a truly nourishing mealtime experience.
Move Your Bodies
Movement is essential for your overall health. It’s also essential for a healthy family. Find activities that you can enjoy together 2-3 times each week, like yoga, biking, or taking family walks.
My husband and I make time each week to hike the mountain behind our house. It gives us time to connect with each other and with nature, enhancing our quality of life and our health.
Have a Joint Spiritual Practice
Having a spiritual practice can enhance our health, by giving our lives greater meaning and purpose. Instead of practicing alone, invite your family to participate. You can meditate together or pray as a family. Whatever your spiritual practice, come together as a family to nourish your soul. Family wellness is not just about the physical.
The journey to good health and wellbeing doesn’t have to be one you take alone, so let’s move into Fall with a focus on community and family health.
I’ll lead the way with three more blog posts over the next month full of information and resources to help keep your family well!