Humans are animals, and animals often suffer depression and illness incaptivity. So leave the dishes in the sink for now and get the family outside,ideally into natural surroundings. A study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology had students take walks through hallways and treelined paths, view alternating cityscape and landscape images and imaginethemselves in scenes both sedentary and active. Those who spent time orimagined themselves in natural settings consistently felt more energetic,and researchers noted that spending just 20 minutes a day surrounded bynature raises vitality levels.
turN oFF tHE scrEENs
Powering down isn’t just important for theenvironment — it’s vital for your family’shealth and imagination. Even when families carve out together-time — a raritythese days — what good is it if everyoneis buried in a screen? The Public HealthAgency of Canada recommends lessthan two hours of screen time per day forchildren. Unfortunately, the Governmentof Alberta’s 2009 Report Card on PhysicalActivity for Children and Youth found lessthan 10 percent of kids are meeting thisguideline, with many children spendingcloser to six hours in front of a glowingscreen. A recent article in San Franciscomagazine described a growing trend ofSilicon Valley visionaries sending theirchildren to decidedly unplugged WaldorfSchools and banishing technology athome to reconnect and encourage self-driven creativity.
Ask For HElp BEForE
proBlEMs sEt iN
Many of us wait for problems to strike before
looking for outside help, but knowing
what resources are available to you can
help parents deal with everyday issues
and keep smaller issues from escalating.
Albertans have an enviable number of
crisis, relationship and parenting services
available to them. Edmontonians and
Calgarians facing depression, loneliness,
work stress, addiction or relationship
problems can simply dial 2-1-1 for 24-hour
guidance. Across Alberta, the Kids Help
Phone ( kidshelpphone.ca, 1-800-668-
6868) provides children emotional support
for dealing with a death, family break-up
and any other trauma. The Calgary Coun-
selling Centre is a non-profit organization
that offers sessions to help children and
parents adjust to changes as a result of
separation and divorce (calgarycounsel-
ling.com, 403-691-5991). Alberta Health
Services offers clinics and counselling for
parenting, anxiety, depression and other
mental hardships, as well as over-the-
phone advice and referrals to helpful
resources. Find out more at albertahealth-
services.ca or by calling HealthLink at
1-866-408-LINK (5465). a
It can be hard to find a single activity thatengages family members equally. No matterthe age, or the interest, there is a book outthere that can fill the lazy hours of a winter’sday. reading to babies and children helpsdevelop to language skills and promotesliteracy, but the benefits of reading togetherare not limited to reading “to” children.
When kids of all ages see people readingaround them, they are encouraged to develop a greater interest in their own reading.
Take a family trip to the library orbookstore, or create a special spot for booksand reading in your home. Talk about whateveryone is reading and share your favouritebooks with each other.
sEE your doctor As NEEdEd
See your doctor periodically, based on yourage and your medical conditions, says Dr.
Cathy MacLean, head of Family Medicineat the University of Calgary. For somepeople it’s every year, while for others itwill be every two or three years. Those withongoing or chronic health concerns mayneed to see a doctor several times a year.
“It’s good to have a conversation with yourdoctor about how often to come in,” saysMacLean. She also recommends havinga conversation about prevention andscreening. Her other tips: pay attention toyour health, know your family’s medicalhistory and work with your doctor toachieve your best health.