The answer, believes Simone Tregeagle, chief operating officer at rt health fund – and mum to lively little Aja (below) – is to pay closer attention to your children.
They are always putting their health first, without even realising it.
Here are seven valuable lessons Simone says we can all learn from them.
1. Better breathing
Have you ever seen a baby breathe? This is called diaphragmatic breathing, and is the natural way to take in a deep breath and oxygenate your body. When stressed or anxious, adults are prone to breathe shallow from the chest, which means that the bottom parts of your lungs don’t fill up, denying your body of vital oxygen.
Whether you’re sitting, standing or lying down, place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach and breathe out exhaling completely. As you inhale, count slowly to five and the hand on your stomach will rise up. Then exhale counting down slowly from five until that hand goes down.
2. Ask why
Whether you’re eight or 80, you can always learn, so enjoy the journey to discover, develop and grow. When you can, be flexible, open and embrace uncertainty, rather than letting your doubts take over. Take your time to look around, appreciate what you have and talk with each other about the weird and wonderful world that’s out there.
3. Eat like a kid
No, this doesn’t mean order the chicken nuggets off the kid’s menu! But, do try to keep your portion sizes smaller. That way you can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Healthy children usually eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full because they follow their natural body and brain cues and are in tune with their hunger and fullness.
4. Don’t sit still
Children are always on the move and this is not only a great way to learn, but it also strengthens bones and muscles and burns calories. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for adults, especially if your job means you have to sit for long periods behind the wheel or in front of a computer terminal. If that’s the case, make sure you get up frequently, stand and stretch.
5. Know when it’s time for some R&R
When was the last time your kids said ‘I want to go home’? Generally speaking, kids know when they are tired and will let you know when they need to rest. So just like them, respect your cues and listen to your body when it tells you it’s tired. Ignoring those natural signals to rest can trigger stress and illness in both your body and mind.
6. Ask for help
When kids need help, they ask for it, whether it’s with their homework or getting something off the top shelf. As we grow up, asking for help becomes a little harder – perhaps because we fear the way we will be perceived by others. Asking for help when you need it may be out of your comfort zone, but it helps you learn, grow in confidence and get better whether this is better at a skill or better health wise.
7. Look on the bright side
Not only are kids naturally inquisitive, but they’re optimistic as well (usually!). Looking on the bright side is linked with less stress and better wellbeing. One study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that people who were more optimistic had higher levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides, which are a type of fat that is often around the middle causing belly fat. No wonder they say that laughter is the best medicine!