Unplug and Tune into Your Family

Secrets of a low-tech, high-connect Labor Day weekend

Starting off a new school year (or work opportunity) can be stressful — whether you’re a family of six or two. Your mind is overloaded with thoughts of school supplies, commuting schedules, sports plans, and psyche prep for those early, hectic mornings — and what about that Labor Day BBQ?

Staying healthy and stress-free may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it’s more beneficial to your family life than you realize.

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Prioritizing your family’s wellness — especially on holidays — will provide clarity, ease your mind, and increase your family’s quality of life.

Before fall is back in full swing, here are some pointers for a fresh start, as shared by New York-based health and fitness author Dr. Brooke Kalanick.

1. Unplug and be present.
“Put down the phone,” said Dr. Kalanick. “One of the major downfalls of our busy, frazzled lives is that we are rarely present and completely focused when we’re with our loved ones.”

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Start out the holiday weekend (or any weekend) with more intention, allowing yourself to enjoy quality moments with family and friends.

“Stay off email and social media, giving yourself permission to just let it wait until next week,” Dr. Kalanick said. “If you have a hard time putting down the smartphone, put it out of sight — or even better, out of reach.”

Be a good example and encourage your kids to give their iPhones and tablets a rest — and instead soak up the sun.

2. Plan to make memories.
“It’s easy for holidays to become all about the food, treats, and booze,” Dr. Kalanick said. “Those things may be a part of a fun, healthy weekend, but be sure your Labor Day also includes plenty of activity, and that you are mindful to do something really special.”

We have the potential to refresh and set our focus on what these holidays are all about — enjoying unforgettable times with family and friends.

Most families plan out every meal or stress about what to make and when. Show your kids that Labor Day — or any holiday, for that matter — goes beyond the burgers. It’s about making memories together.

“Whatever it is,” Dr. Kalanick said, “be engaged and enjoy the heck out of it!”

Make a point to create fun things that will fill your days this weekend — it doesn’t have to be costly. Play Frisbee at the beach or volleyball in the backyard. To wrap up the day, pull out those nostalgic board games in the evening.

3. Focus on family — not food.
At your weekend barbecue, you will no doubt hear at least one person say, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow,” while reaching for a third helping of potato salad.

The word “diet” literally means “the foods you eat.” Our views of diets and health, however, tend to hold a negative and unpleasant stigma.

“You will find that you actually can enjoy your meals more and will overdo it less if you avoid the ‘diet’ mindset,” said Dr. Kalanick.

Start out your Labor Day celebration with the notion that there will likely be leftovers — instead of thinking it’s the last opportunity you have to enjoy roasted marshmallows.

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We tend to think we have to end these holiday meals feeling “stuffed” and bloated — it doesn’t have to work that way. Instead of making burgers and ice cream sundaes the focal point of the day — get up, goof off, and make memorable moments with your kids and family.

The Good Doctor recommends that you make some time this weekend “to exercise, play more with your kids, eat more vegetables, drink plenty of water, and aim to get some solid sleep.”

By the end of the day, you will no doubt feel better about yourself as well.

All too often, we forget that these holiday weekends shouldn’t include over-indulgent meals and lazy hours. This Labor Day, we have the potential to refresh and set our focus on what these holidays are all about — enjoying unforgettable times with family and friends.

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