A follow on from the last – Mommy Shoulder post . As discussed earlier caring for children can be or rather is stressful on many levels. This often leads to painful situations for the care giver. Despite this there is much that can be done to help oneself. Having a framework to work through often helps a person take action. I suggest that using the acronym D.R.E.A.M. can be useful. This represents Diet, Rest, Exercise, Alignment and Mindfulness. What follows are a few suggestions to help a parent help themselves. It is not an exhaustive list, but rather a short simple list that will be easier to use.D is for Diet: More like an eating guideline, it is challenging sometimes to eat at all when the kids are small. Stress is part of being a parent (physical, emotional and chemical) and you need more than the RDA of vitamins and minerals strongly consider a multivitamin to help give you some peace of mind. In a perfect world eating lots of vegetables, lean protein and whole grains addresses this. Focus on veggies 8 to 10 servings per day it is easier than you might think (see http://oneserving.com/). Embrace the imperfection of the situation and focusing your time and attention on this pays healthy dividends. When fatigue and pain is especially significant concentrating on B-vitamins and especially extra magnesium.R is for Rest: Sleep is when the body repairs and restores itself. To the extent that you are sleep deprived you will hurt more because this normal repair and remodeling of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) does not proceed normally. Muscle tension begins to “wind up” because it is not dissipated during the night. Sleeping when they sleep (the child that is) is the common suggestion. Unfortunately it is often ignored as not being enough time to make a difference. Not true, small naps can help with muscle pain, and energy not to mention restore your sanity. The more sleep deprivation, the faster you can fall asleep… right up to falling asleep at the wheel. There is no substitute. E is for Exercise: The benefits of exercise are numerous and well-known. Increased circulation, cardiovascular health, weight control. Often not mentioned are; improved digestion, better immune function, enhanced energy, reduced muscle tension and pain relief! Our bodies have a phenomenal ability to adapt to changing stresses, whether it be chemical, mental or physical. One who exercises regularly is training their body to efficient adapt to stress. One who is sedentary has a diminished ability to do so in comparison. A simple routine can do a lot and as kids get more capable yoga is a good choice to give you both strength and flexibility (local Yoga instructor Tiffany Belzer’s recent DVD on Family yoga offers series for younger and older children).A is for Alignment: Anything that you want to last must be maintained. Poor alignment wears car tires more quickly and unflossed , unbrushed teeth decay prematurely. The the human body is no different, exceed its capacity for too long and it begins to breakdown. Chiropractic assessment and adjustment can prevent this. More than this a small measure of attention to ones posture can greatly reduce the stress and strain. (one example is the simple mantra “breath deep, shoulders blades back and down”) M is for Mindfulness: You might also describe this as you attitude We have to maintain our mind just like our body. Putting good things or thoughts in your mind positively influences your health. Research during WWII showed that patients with optimistic attitudes recover more quickly from surgeries and injuries, even if their injuries were more severe. Bernie Siegel, M.D. found that cancer patients faired far better (longer remissions, better medication tolerance and fewer recurrences) if they were exposed to comedy and laughed every day. So find joy and humor in every day. This stressful and demanding time will pass so quickly, you might miss it later.
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