We have written several times on the subject of the importance of foster carers maintaining a good level of general fitness. To foster care successfully means looking after yourself as much as the child or young person you are caring for. Energy and a positive frame of mind are essential for a foster carer. The maxim ‘Fit body fit mind’ really does carry a great deal of truth: and a fit mind is more likely to be resilient and able to cope with the challenge. And as every foster carer knows, fostering certainly is challenging. It is also highly rewarding – these rewards are best experienced when you feel fit and well in yourself. There is definitely evidence that keeping fit and taking regular exercise is likely to enhance the experience of fostering – and this means for everyone involved. When we exercise, certain significant biochemical changes start to take place within our bodies: special chemicals called endorphins are released. These are known as the ‘feel good chemicals’. Being physically active also delivers the benefit of increasing the blood flow to the brain as well as reducing muscle tension.
Psychologically, establishing a regular routine of exercise can improve our sense of self and confidence and general well being. Most importantly of all, we are more likely to feel in control of events. Exercise can both help prevent depression as well as play a key role in treating it. Certain research studies have found that exercise can be at least as effective as psychotherapy in dealing with the symptoms of depression. Remember also, exercise really can help us feel more positive about ourselves – and our lives. This applies to all age groups. People who are physically active will often discuss not just feeling fitter, but also feeling a higher sense of self worth. The benefits of exercise continue once we are in bed: physical exercise doesn’t just help us fall asleep, it plays an important part in the quality of our sleep. If we have exercised well, we usually sleep more deeply and for a longer period of time. Regular physical exercise reduces the risk of suffering from sleep disorders in both men and women. One of the best things about exercise is that it can help us deal with our feelings of anxiety. This means that it can play a huge part in the way we live our lives for the better.
If you are a foster carer, one of the best things that you can do for a child or young person in your care, is to help them establish a good relationship with food. Doing this can help them avoid significant health problems in later life. This is one of the best ways that you can express love and interest in a child. A good diet can help ward off feelings of sadness and depression. Serotonin is a chemical that has been used for a long time as a mood stabilizer; it has even been looked at as a means to help people ward off depression. This chemical messenger is also believed to help boost healthy sleeping patterns. It can also help stimulate feelings of relaxation and happiness. Drugs can be prescribed to raise the levels of serotonin in the brain; some foods can also play a role in increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin does not occur naturally in foods. It is possible to find a substance called tryptophan in certain foods. This is key because serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan which is an amino acid that is present in a range of food sources. Without tryptophan, it is not possible for the body to produce serotonin.
These foods have high levels of tryptophan: to make sure that you get the best uptake of tryptophan into your body, these foods (listed below) will need to be eaten often in conjunction with carbohydrates:
So if you have a foster child with you, it is useful to have knowledge about all these benefits. Pay attention to your general level of fitness: diet plays a crucial role in this. Whatever your age, it is important then to think about maintaining both a good diet and keeping active. This does not mean running a marathon, or climbing a mountain or aiming for Olympic gold! In the UK, there is an epidemic of obesity on the horizon which is affecting growing numbers of children, young people and adults. Again, taking an interest in your own health and well being will set an excellent example for the foster children in your care. All foster carers are aware of just how much children notice – so you can set an excellent example. Remember, for a foster carer this is a very good way to demonstrate that you care. It is a depressing truth, but many foster children will have been neglected in a variety of ways. One of the most common of these will have been being denied a good diet. Daily life should encompass conversations about the importance of eating good nutritious food. Foster care is all about addressing the needs of a child or young person with a view to establishing good habits that will help a child to thrive.
At Rainbow Fostering we are always keen to promote the idea of being ‘Fit to Foster’ at any age. We have already had some great feedback from a programme of yoga that one of senior social workers has been running. It is important to realise that – considering most people are aged over 35 when they become foster carers – that yoga can be started at any age. It is not unusual for some people to take up yoga when they are in their 70’s – and sometimes would you believe even older!
For more information about yoga as well as valuable assistance in how to lead a healthier life visit http://fitnessgoals.com/guide/ultimate-guide-fitness/
Do you wish to foster children, foster babies or foster teenagers? Whatever the ages of youngsters you wish to care for, Rainbow is a London fostering agency offering all the support services you can rely upon for your career. Could you refer someone to us? If so, £500 will be paid to you: you’ll have the money once your referral has been approved and the first placement has been accepted. Current foster carers perhaps considering transferring to our Rainbow Fostering network could also be in line to receive a bonus under our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ scheme. This will be in the form of a bonus once approved, for foster carers who already have children placed with them on a long-term basis. Rainbow is an independent fostering agency always keen to recruit people interested in being able to foster. Call our foster recruitment team on 020 8427 3355 for more information.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…Our exciting programme of summer events for our foster children is now complete. Phone and ask to be put through to our Youth Participation Officer for details.
Foster care news – ‘read all about it’
Long term foster placements coming under pressure
August 3rd, 2017
There is now a rising incidence of long term foster care placements breaking down. The main reason that is given is the failure of Social Services to meet the needs of the placement. This has meant that in certain instances, children have left long term placements to go into residential care.