Supporting Mental Health at Home
Developing healthy coping strategies is not an innate ability and as children continue to grow, there are some ways parents and caregivers can assist in helping them obtain good mental health habits.
Talk openly about mental health
There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness which discourages people from talking about any mental health challenges they may be facing. When we talk openly about mental health, you are promoting a safe environment that will encourage youth to seek support and help when it is needed.
Model your own healthy habits
Children learn by observing. When adults use positive coping strategies to manage life’s stressors, youth are more inclined to develop and use their own strategies.
Spend time together as a family
Children need love, time and attention. Setting time aside to be with your child produces a stronger bond, making them feel valued and loved. Invite them to join you in an activity you enjoy to reduce stress. Incorporate these activities into your family’s weekly routine and acknowledge their mental health benefits.
Participate in community or volunteer activities
Children will meet and connect with new people. They will experience a sense of belonging and purpose, and will learn how to relate to others.
Encourage regular exercise
Children and adolescents need at least 1 hour of daily physical exercise to promote health development, and exercise is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy mind. Exercising stimulates chemicals that improve our moods and allow us to channel negative energy positively.
Praise your child’s efforts and behavior
When we are praised on something we did, we feel good about ourselves, and our confidence and self-esteem increases. Praise also helps to motivate kids and encourage them to continue to try new things.
Creating a Calm Space
Do you often feel overstimulated and overwhelmed? Do you find comfort in quiet spaces and calm environments? Not surprising…when we are fatigued and stressed, or struggling with mental health problems, our brains process environmental cues (lights, sounds, etc.) differently. Creating a comfortable space and minimizing clutter can have a positive effect on our mood, thoughts and behaviors at home, in the classroom or at the office.
Create a calm space that is as unique as you!
- Sounds – different sounds can promote different moods.
- nature sounds or instrumental music are soothing background sounds
- pop or dance music can promote energy and movement
- Colors – choose a color palette that works for you.
- cool colors can be both soothing and energizing
- colors found in nature can be very grounding and peaceful
- Smells – consider what smells good to you
- use candles, aromatherapy or cooking to fill your space with smells
- Textures – positive memories can be brought back with how things make us feel
- wrap yourself in a comfortable blanket
- fill a bowl with pinecones or smooth stones from outside
- Objects – fill your space with things that lift your mood
- photos of family and friends
- images from the beach or the woods
- inspirational quotes
Finally, declutter – too much “stuff” can feel overwhelming
- pack away what you don’t need; you can always bring it back out later
- unsubscribe from email lists to reduce the number of messages you get
- delete emails, recycle or throw out things you don’t need
- not using it…give it to a friend (you’ll both feel better)
- get organized; the internet is full of tips and articles about “how to”