I’m lucky. Or at least I consider myself lucky. I have help with the small tasks in life that I don’t always want to do. For me that task is grocery shopping. In my household, I get lots of help when it comes to the grocery shopping. That is a good thing, since I’d rather do 100 other things than grocery shop. But it also has its drawbacks. As a result of someone else doing the shopping, all sorts of foods end up in the refrigerator and cabinets that I would not normally buy (think: chips, hot dogs, salami, pickles, ice cream). And even though I wouldn’t buy them, once they appear within arm’s reach, it is tempting to eat these things. Well, maybe not the hot dogs!

Without realizing it, our families, friends and others we interact with regularly have significant impact on our health behaviors. The way our families come together, the way we talk together as family and friends about our health choices and they way we support and encourage each other, all work to influence our health behaviors.

In my recently published article “Family Wellness: The Power Is in Being Healthy Together” in the American Journal of Health Promotion, these key points address the impact of how we can work together as families to be healthy together:

  • A sense of community. Some family members may have grown apart. Where this is the case, wellness could be a mechanism for getting reacquainted. Wellness initiatives could be organized in such a way that family members have opportunities to help one another. While family members may not share the same lifestyle goals, they can be an important source of mutual support.
  • A shared vision. Many families could benefit from a sense of broader meaning and purpose. Health and wellExtended Family Group In Parkbeing could be that purpose. A family might be inspired by the aspirations of individual family members to, for example, be a competitive athlete, recover from an illness, or do well in school. The high costs associated with medical care and lost work may make wellness an economic necessity within the family system. Other inspirational family goals are likely to have a lifestyle component. For example, the family might join together to promote peace, social justice, or a healthier planet.
  • A positive outlook. A family wellness initiative could be the catalyst for a “can do” philosophy within a family. An emphasis on achieving wellness goals makes it possible to better appreciate achievements. In addition, wellness activities offer ready opportunities for families to enjoy time together.

A family does not necessarily mean the traditional nuclear family of our past. Your family may be the people you live with, your team at work, or a group of people with whom you regularly socialize.

Bring your family together and be well.

Mari Ryan, MBA, MHP, CWWPC, CWP

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