February is American Heart Month
You may have noticed the bombardment of various hearts of all sizes and colors this month. From media to decorations, hearts have graced us from every angle. Besides being the trademark for Valentine’s Day, did you know that February is also American Heart Month? This was done in an effort to raise awareness to all Americans about the importance of being heart healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke and in this country alone, and more than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure. The CDC goes on to note that high blood pressure, which excess stress can play a part in, can cause a range of health concerns.
As it has been well documented, families with a child with autism or other developmental disability may be more prone to stress than other families.
While a parent and guardian may be juggling the therapy, school and extracurricular activities of their child, parents and guardians should not forget their health own needs. Stressful situations will develop for all families, regardless of whether they have children with different needs or not. What are some things we can do to help stress? The CDC highlights the following:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting enough physical activity.
- Not smoking.
- Limiting alcohol use.
As a parent or guardian with a child with autism or a developmental disability, accomplishing all or some of these healthy concepts can be daunting. Try and involve your family so that you can offer each other support in these activities:
- Healthy Diet: Plan meals and if possible, let your child help! He or she may be interested in mixing, pouring, or setting the meal up. It can be a fun but educative time as well.
- Healthy Weight: Try and have the whole family exercise. Use your child’s favorite songs or TV programs to dance, let go and just act goofy!
- Not smoking: Smoking is not beneficial for you or your family. If you need help quitting, there are resources available for you at the end of this article.
- Limiting alcohol: Be vigilant about your alcohol consumption. Excess consumption of alcohol can add additional stressors to a family, not relieve them.
Just as we work diligently with your child, we ask that your health does not take a back seat. February is has been designated to bring awareness to your heart health, but once the hearts of February slip away and gives way to shamrocks and clovers, that doesn’t mean that the awareness should go with it. Have it be part of your ongoing life, and always consult your doctor if you are ready to commit to life changes that would benefit you and your child in the long run.
CDC Website: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/healthy_living.htm
Quit Smoking: http://smokefree.gov/