by Maureen Pratt
He’s strong, smart, funny and wise. He can handle multiple responsibilities—from family to job, church to home—within a single day and never tire. He always has time for one more project. He never says, “No,” to someone in need.
All right, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But, it is true that today’s dads are called upon to give of themselves like never before. And, as the stresses and pressures in the world increase, so, too, does the burden on men’s shoulders grow heavier, requiring even more strength. But, unfortunately, the same men who stand as pillars of strength for us sometimes forget to cultivate that strength and health in themselves. Whether from lack of time or aversion to all things medical, many men relegate their own self-nurturing to the bottom of their to-do lists. With Father’s Day, June 17, and Men’s Health Week, June 11-17, this is a perfect time to remind men that it’s more than all right to take time and care for themselves. It’s vital for them and important for those of us who love and appreciate them.
Here are seven ways for men who are always on-the-go and in demand to take some time to take care:
It’s all right to rest…and unplug
Sometimes, “rest” is mistaken for “laziness.” But you need only to go as far as Genesis 2:2-3, when God rested on the seventh day after he created the world and everything in it, to understand that work and rest go hand-in-hand. Today, with technology connecting all of us 24/7, one of the first steps to rest is to unplug. It might seem uncomfortable at first. But disconnecting the myriad gadgets that carry messages, information and images allows you to enjoy moments connected with family, in prayer, or simply sitting and admiring God’s world. Rest is doing something—recharging depleted batteries, allowing the body and mind to relax, allowing God’s voice to be heard deep within. Schedule in a few moments of rest each day, and see how rejuvenating it can be.
Fuel for mind and body
Water doesn’t work in the gas tank, and the wrong food doesn’t give our bodies the fuel they need for optimal health. As delicious as some food favorites might be, nutritious fare is the best fuel for all the things you want to accomplish. It helps the body generate optimal energy, and it can provide minerals and vitamins for strength inside and out. It also sets an excellent example for others, especially children. Consciously cultivate a taste for new, more healthful foods, and add them to your family’s menu of favorites.
Become a week-long warrior
Although the phrase “weekend warrior” sounds good and strong, people who concentrate their vigorous exercise into two short weekend days often risk incurring more injury than those who try to keep to a regular regimen throughout the week. Scheduling time for one or two shorter exercise sessions during the week can help muscle tone and stamina so that the body is not so taxed if you have more time on the weekends. And, if you want to work up to running a marathon or taking a ski vacation, you’ll be in better shape by working up to your goal gradually. Figure out where you can fit in one or more short exercise sessions during the week, perhaps including your children or wife in the activity (be sure to run—pardon the pun—any new exercise by your regular physician first).
Speaking of Doctors…
No man or woman loves going to the doctor. Yet, taking care of our bodies is a very real way of showing how much we respect this life we have been given. An annual physical exam is an excellent way to touch base with basic health issues and possibly prevent serious problems from developing. For example, heart disease is the number one killer of men, but early diagnosis and treatment can be, literally, a life saver. Decide to have an annual physical and keep the appointment. You’re doing yourself and your family a tremendous service.
Although the way men relate to their guy friends can be different from the way women relate to their sister-friends, those relationships are no less important. As men move through life, they benefit greatly from the support, empathy and camaraderie of their male friends, but they might get so caught up in the day-to-day that they drift apart. Take the initiative to call a friend, schedule a round of golf, or organize a fishing expedition with some buddies. You’ll be sharing a tremendous gift.
Forging ahead into the thick of life’s ups and downs comes naturally to many men. But just as important is the retreat, that is, focused quality time with God. Distinct from “rest time,” retreating enables you to deepen your understanding of God’s will in your life and of His many blessings. Whether at home or at a scheduled, more structured retreat, a retreat can renew courage and brighten the inner fire of faith that can become dimmed with the constant buffeting it takes from the world’s challenges. Be sure to take time with God and be filled with peace.
Children are so easily amused, but as they age, they gradually lose their ability to burst into laughter. There is, however, still a child in all of us, even the most serious, responsible “Superdad.” Laughter spreads smiles, is full of light, and has medically proven properties to reduce stress and tension. One study at the University of California Los Angeles showed that people who were exposed to something humorous before they underwent chemotherapy withstood the treatment better than those who did not have the extra dose of laughter beforehand. Find a few ways during the week to enjoy and share a good, pure, heartfelt laugh—music to everyone’s ears!
Maureen Pratt is the author of six books including Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness. She writes and speaks about faith, medical and health issues, and walking with God while living with chronic pain and illness. Maureen’s website is www.maureenpratt.com