24 October 2016
Some men smoke and drink to relieve the stress, but these habits are harmful to their health. Photo: Bloomberg
Some men smoke and drink to relieve the stress, but these habits are harmful to their health. Photo: Bloomberg

Dads need tender loving care

I hope you spent some time with your dad last weekend to celebrate Father’s Day.

Though fathers often try to appear tough, they, like mothers, also need care and concern from their children.

This is especially true for those who have reached middle age when their mental and psychological wellness might be challenged due to increasing responsibilities from work and family.

According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The brain is the organ of the mind. All mental processes are brain processes which can be expressed in six aspects, namely emotions, cognitive functions, thoughts, sensations, behavioral and physiological functions (sleep, appetite, etc.).

There are five pillars to mental wellness: sleep, diet, exercise, stress management, and early medical attention.

Sleep is necessary for survival, though some people have misunderstood it as a time-wasting activity.

Recent medical research shows that sleep is crucial for the brain to flush out toxins built up during the daytime and to store memories.

Some people, although feeling exhausted, still find it hard to fall asleep.

They should avoid using the computer or smartphone at least two hours before sleep, as the blue light emitted by the digital screen is found to inhibit the release of melatonin, a key hormone that regulates our body clock or circadian system.

In other words, too much screen time at night would delay sleep or adversely affect the quality of sleep.

A healthy digestive system also promotes our mental well-being. Many middle-aged men suffer from constipation because they don’t eat enough vegetables, which means low intake of dietary fibers that are essential for regular bowel movement.

Men who have busy work schedules often take high-calorie but unwholesome meals. They prefer food that gives them huge amounts of energy instantly.

That’s why many of those who work under pressure crave sodas and cakes which have high sugar content.

High-calorie food may give us energy, but they may not provide us the vitamins and minerals that our body needs.

For example, those with folic acid deficiency are prone to depression and have poor response to medical treatment.

Some men resort to drinking and smoking to relieve the pressure. But that is detrimental to their health in the long run.

Alcohol may help some people to fall asleep, but it doesn’t help them get good-quality sleep.

In fact, long-term intake of alcohol damages brain functions and causes a decline in cognitive abilities.

Nicotine from cigarette smoking is a stimulant and can cause insomnia.

Smoking also damages the structure and function of blood vessels, thus cognitive functions could be impaired when blood vessels in the brain are affected.

Children should encourage their parents to do regular exercises. Some weekend hiking or even just an evening stroll could go a long way in improving physical health.

In today’s hectic world, middle-aged men face a lot of pressure and are often prompted to work overtime because of their huge volume of work.

That’s why they need a lot of understanding and caring.

Sometimes just sending them a caring text message or joining them in a stroll in the park can do wonders for their health.

If you think your dad is not holding up well, you may want to ask him to consider seeking professional help and medical attention.

An iPhone app, Stress Reduction DIY (Chinese only), has been developed to enhance self-awareness of one’s emotions and encourage positive thinking.

You can download it for free.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 22.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Associate Consultant of Castle Peak Hospital

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