Most parents recognise the importance of helping their kids stay physically fit and active. But, mental health maintenance is just as important. In 2021 alone, nearly 14% of children ages 4-17 were assessed as experiencing some kind of mental health disorder over the last year.
It’s easy to think that children are “immune” to such things, but they can be impacted by stress, depression, and anxiety as much as adults. Many times, it’s even harder for them if they’re not able to fully process or understand their feelings.
So, what can you do to make mental health maintenance a priority in your family every day? How can you take care of your mental state together and set a tone that will help your children manage their health into adulthood?
Setting an Example
The best way to show your kids the importance of mental health care is to practice it yourself. Though it may not seem like it, your children are watching everything you do. Taking a multi-faceted approach to your overall well-being will set a good example for them to do the same. Keep the eight dimensions of health in mind each day:
It’s easy to see how almost all of these can factor into your mental health state, so it’s important to focus on all of them rather than picking and choosing how to care for yourself.
You can also get your kids involved in daily maintenance habits. Make certain things parts of your wellness routine – together. Not sure where to start? First thing in the morning, find a quiet place to sit together and take a few deep breaths. Then, ask each other how you’re feeling at that very moment. Other questions to consider include:
Where do I feel the emotions in my body?
What are my intentions today?
What are some things I should let go of?
What am I grateful for?
By spending time with your children to answer those questions each day, you’ll set a positive tone that they can carry with them, even when things get overwhelming.
Creating a Healthy Environment
Did you know your environment can have quite an impact on your mental health? Everything from loud noises to large crowds can be overwhelming and stressful. Your home environment can be just as impactful on your mental state – and your children’s.
You can make your daily surroundings more conducive to positive mental health by establishing daily decluttering/organisational habits. The benefits of decluttering include reduced stress and anxiety, with fewer distractions to take up space in your mind. That’s especially important for kids who might already have things they’re worried about each day.
Cleaning and organising can be a family activity that gets done every day. Try giving everyone an age-appropriate job or two. In high-traffic areas like the living room, make sure you have storage space for things that your kids can organise easily. In their bedrooms, help them store their belongings in drawers, chests, and closets so they understand that each item has its place.
When things are clean and organised each day, you can put more focus on creating a calming, peaceful home environment. Consider adding more natural light wherever possible and ensuring each room is a colour that inspires a sense of calm, like tranquil blues or greys.
Teaching your family the importance of mental health now will create lifelong habits. The easiest way to do it is by incorporating maintenance into your daily routine, so they understand it as a basic part of life. Keep these ideas in mind to jumpstart your own mental health maintenance plan for your family, and enjoy the natural benefits that stem from it.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S.
She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to health and wellness, including mental health awareness and addiction education.