When it comes to protecting our mental health there are some things which are beyond our control such as our genes, but there are many things which we can control including our diet, sleep, exercise and attitudes. We speak to Alicia Drummond our in-House Parenting and Mental Health Expert and Founder of Teen Tips and The Wellbeing Hub on how we can cultivate healthy coping strategies
Too often when times get tough we stop doing the things which make us feel good. We withdraw from friends, give up hobbies and don’t look after ourselves. Sometimes we even turn to things which give us temporary relief like drugs, gambling and alcohol all of which might help us forget our problems in the short term, but they cause more problems than they solve in the long run.
If we are trying to protect the mental health of our children we need to build their emotional resilience. We need to help them find the things which make them feel calm, safe and happy and then encourage them to do more of them. What works will be different for everyone, but we all need to discover what suits us and make sure we do two of those activities every single day. They need to become our non-negotiables. They must be prioritised, diarised, ring-fenced and protected. It is too easy not to do them when times get busy or stressful, but they matter because they bring balance to our lives. They are the activities which boost the production of our happy hormones, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine and reduce the production of the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.
My non-negotiables are walking every morning and reading every night. What are yours because parenting is tough and we need to look after ourselves whilst modelling healthy self-management for our children? As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty jug”.
Once you have your two a day sorted, add as many others in over the course of a week as you can.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:-
- Prioritise sleep – 8-10 hours is essential for wellbeing
- Eat a varied diet to boost gut health which is closely linked to mental health
- Exercise every day
- Spend time in nature
- Socialise with people who make you feel good
- Do something creative
- Make or listen to music
- Cook or bake
- Write a journal
- Listen to podcasts
- Express gratitude
- Do something to help someone else
- Have a hot bath
- Check out your social media feeds but for no longer than 20 mins at a time
- Take a nap
- Give/receive a massage
- Listen to a guided meditation and breathe deeply
- Spend time with animals – they are great listeners
The wealth of resources available within The Wellbeing Hub help parents support their children through adolescence and gives them the skills and knowledge to meet their social and emotional needs. It’s a live and interactive web-app which parents can subscribe to individually here or they can refer us to their child’s school so the whole school community can benefit. Contact us for more information.