May is all about moms, and let’s face it … most moms have it good on Mother’s Day. We like to treat our moms well because we love them; we make them breakfast in bed, buy them chocolate, and pick out a card or gift that really shows how much we care.
But when June rolls around and it’s time to show dad some love, things can get a little more challenging. Men aren’t always great at making their needs known, so its hard to figure out how to really show our love and appreciation for them on their special day.
Sometimes the best gift you can give dad isn’t one that comes wrapped in a bow … As it turns out, June gives us more than one way to celebrate the dads in our lives. In addition to Father’s Day, it’s also Men’s Health Week –a time intended to help men do something they’re not often inclined to do: focus on their health.Because men are more goal-oriented and competitive, they often view health as something that can be measured in concrete terms like how many push-ups they can do, how much they can bench press, or how low their golf scores are. By default, this narrow focus means that other critical aspects of their health tend to get neglected, underscoring the need for Men’s Health Week to increase awareness of the importance of total-body health and health issues specific to men.
If you consider that chronic stress is the biggest and most overlooked factor affecting men’s health today, then one way you can show dad some real love is by getting him to adopt a total body focus to help him keep stress in check. Anything you do in that department will go a long way to keeping him healthier and happier. I can’t think of a better gift than that!
It’s no secret that when left unchecked, stress can lead to very serious conditions like chronic depression, and even fatal illnesses like heart disease and stroke. Men tend to exacerbate the effects of stress with their lifestyle choices –overdoing it in the gym, not getting enough sleep, ignoring diet and nutrition, overconsumption, or nursing an unhealthy attachment to work. And to make matters worse, they keep things bottled up inside –further compounding the effects of stress until it becomes obvious there’s no turning back.
So how can you know if your dad may be headed down a chronic stress collision course? Here are six key warning signs to watch for:
Irritability. When asked to do something, big or small, he snaps or lashes out, or easily becomes angry out of proportion to the cause.
Forgetfulness. He seems to frequently misplace his keys, papers, or other important items.
Lack of Motivation. He has difficulty starting projects at work or around the home. He shows little interest in going out or socializing and becomes increasingly withdrawn.
Loss of Concentration. He has difficulty finishing the projects that he starts, and often seems distracted when spoken to.
Muscular and Skeletal Aches and Pains. He suffers from unexplained aches and pains –especially in the lower back– and his injuries take longer to heal than they should.
Expanding Waistline. His struggles to lose weight may be due to more than just his love of sugar. A large belly may be the result of a buildup of stress hormones like cortisol, which also increase with lack of sleep.
Not surprisingly, work is the main source of stress for most men –lack of control, increased responsibility, tight deadlines, and poor work environments –all put a heaping pile of stress on a working man’s shoulders. These stressors are made worse for working fathers because of the added stress tied to being providers and their additional responsibilities at home.
While it may not be possible to remove the sources of dad’s stress, you can help him learn to manage and eventually reduce it before it takes a serious toll. Find ways to introduce him to meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques –these are the most natural cures for stress as they can alter brain wave activity in ways that quickly lower blood pressure and heart rates. Help him create a dedicated space that’s just his to enjoy some peace and quiet, and enlist the family’s help in re-prioritizing household responsibilities to allow room for more down-time. This will make even the most hectic of days seem more bearable. When in doubt, love, laughter and music can always bring levity and relief.
If your father is showing some of the warning signs listed above, then a visit to his health care practitioner is in order. Because men often have trouble asking for help and fear being seen as weak, you can show your support and concern by offering to make the appointment and accompanying him. Let him know that agreeing to do this is not a sign of weakness but an act of love.
Taking a trip to the physician’s office may not be as much fun as being pampered and showered with gifts, but helping your dad live a longer, healthier and happier life is as sweet as any box of chocolate!