Yes Dads Can: Take a Break

Feeling trapped or tapped out? Being a dad is great, but you might need to take a break!

Sometimes dads need to break out!

Generally speaking, we like dads to be strong. Productive. Dependable. Solid. We don’t want shows of negative or weak emotions. We prefer to be solution-oriented. With a dad, people expect that everything is either a) under control or b) able to be fixed. And to our great credit, that’s generally true. A good dad is there for his kids when they get injured or bullied, or when something breaks or is lost. A good dad is also there for his partner, a good listener and part of the “home team.”

But what is a dad without kids or his partner? How do we feel? Most of us just keep “dadding,” and apply the same rules to our personal lives. We expect that we should be calm, collected, and in control.

Understanding the Problem

The problem is that, like most human beings, we aren’t in control. At least not always. And when things are out of control, what then? Do we cope with the challenges of not only being a dad but also just a man in society? Do we do things that are fulfilling for ourselves? Do we face disappointment, anger, sadness, and pain, or do we push it away, or down?

Before we pretend it isn’t an issue, let’s be real: you are hardwired to worry. Millions of years of evolution have primed us to seek threats to our safety – and the safety of our families – so we can confront or avoid them. In modern society, these threats aren’t tigers in the grass, snakes on the road, or the weapons of rival tribes. Instead, they are job or financial insecurity, social threats to our values, and disruptions to our comfort and routine.

Modern relationships, work, illness, and much more eventually take their toll on us – both physically and mentally. What do we do? Where do we go? Where does a dad go to take a break from, well, everything?

Here are a few strategies dads can use to stay on top of their games, and be the dads we want and need!

Take a Break with Exercise

exercising with the kids
If you do it right, you can get double points by taking the kids out for a jog and bike ride!

Regular and sustainable exercise can go a long way in maintaining a dad’s mental and physical well-being. Cardio (running, cycling) and sustained isometric (weights, resistance) exercise both have their physiological benefits, but also release endorphins. Endorphins act as a counter to stress hormones (especially cortisol) which can induce flight or fight responses, which trigger fear and anxiety.

Setting aside time for exercise might be tricky, and if it is, check out our article on Getting and Staying Fit. And if that’s not enough,

Take a Break with Friends

brad and steve
Heading over to a friend’s house to move a piece of furniture? Bring a beer and make it a break!

Most men don’t have as many friends as we’d like. Sure, we have work friends, or friends through our wives or partners or kids, but outside of any hobbies we’ve been able to maintain (see below), most guys have MAYBE one or two really good friends they can be themselves with.

I am lucky to have a group of guys from my college days, and among them, my best friend from high school. We don’t get together as often as I’d like. We’re all married or in committed relationships, and we all have schedules to manage and balance. But I’ll tell you, on the rare occasion we can get together, it’s great. So if you can, make it happen, or make an excuse to spend time with them. Ryan Reynolds did it, we did it, and so can you. Read our blog on Yes Dads Can: Have Friends for more!

Take a Break with Hobbies

Grilling is a great pastime that also provides! Nothing like a good outdoor cook!

In addition to being dads, we are also coaches, musicians, programmers, toymakers, gamers, car enthusiasts, etc. While these hobbies may not be productive or profitable, having a fulfilling hobby is such a great way to take a break from everyday troubles and issues. Here at Smoking Hot Dad, we all love to cook and grill, but we each do our own things as well!

It may feel selfish to work on your computer rig or car, or to play basketball with friends, especially when there’s work to do for the job or family. But you will be a better person for everyone if you can budget time for a healthy, fulfilling hobby.

Take a Break with an Emotional Release

A good friend of mine who also happens to be a life coach once said to me its OK to cry, as it is a good way to release tension. Honestly, it’s great to have ways to avoid, take a break from, or otherwise handle strong emotions, but there is a lot of science behind the benefits of letting an emotion rip. To be clear, we’re not talking about raging out on people – anger DOES need to be managed, or even better, understood.

But if the tension doesn’t go away after a run or a weight lifting session, if you aren’t ready to share with friends or even your partner, then give yourself permission to WORK THROUGH THE EMOTION. Here are a few ways I myself have done just that:

  • Go for a walk and “talk it out.” Imagine confronting the person giving you grief and saying what you need to say. Did it make sense? Will it get you closer to a solution? Then say it! If not, rethink it and understand what is REALLY going on.
  • Crank up the music and let yourself feel whatever you need to feel. Put on the music that resonates with how you are feeling, and play it as loud or long as you need.
  • Write it down. Sometimes we can be cruel or impatient with ourselves or others, and sometimes that means words and phrases keep echoing in our minds. I have found it good to write it out, not worrying about structure, or even making sense. The process of thinking about the feelings may lead somewhere, and that somewhere may be closer to understanding the feeling.

Take a Break and Lean on Your Community!

Smoking Hot Dad at their first boutique
The Smoking Hot Dads working to build DAD COMMUNITY around FUN, FRIENDS, FAMILY, FOOD, and FERMENTATION!

Knowing what dads are going through, and how we can support each other, we at Smoking Hot Dad are all about creating a community around fun, family, friends, food, and fermentation. We had our first Smoking Hot Dads Event back in December when local dads got together and spent a few hours chilling out over a few beers.

As expected, we started off talking about beers, BBQ, food, work, families, etc. But as the afternoon evolved so did our conversations. When it came time to leave, we had discussed and shared information about being a dad, some personal life experiences, and so much more. It was a very relaxed afternoon and great to chill and talk to other dads.

If you’re local and want to connect, any dad is welcome to come and join us at these social events, check out the Upcoming Events section on our home page. And if you are NOT local, keep an eye for events in your area! Or stay tuned for more about a virtual Smoking Hot Dad community!

Conclusion: It’s Not Just One More Thing

Prioritizing yourself and your health shouldn’t be optional. Yet many dads find it hard to take a break for themselves. If you have struggle with anxiety, frustration, depression, or just a general sense of stress, read our blog on Yes Dads Can: Dads are Stressed. You are not alone, and help is out there!

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