Creating a mentally healthy family life
Mental ill health can strike anyone. At any time of life. But, just as with physical health, there are definitely things we can do to promote good mental and emotional health. There is lots of research linking lifestyle and mindset factors to positive mental wellbeing – so if you want to foster a mentally healthy family life, think about including these factors:
Do things for others
Whether it’s formal volunteering, fundraising or just helping out a neighbour in need, being of service to other people is great for our own wellbeing. Children can do things for others through formal schemes like Scouts or the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, or just be helpful to the people around them – walking Gran’s dog when she is poorly, doing the washing up or making mum breakfast in bed on Mothers’ Day! Small acts of kindness can reap big rewards for our sense of wellbeing.
Exercise delivers a huge boost for both physical and mental health, in both the short and longer term. Team sports, solo cycling, pounding the treadmill or just a brisk walk. As long as you get a bit out of breath, it all counts and releases feel good chemicals in the brain. So, for a mentally healthy family life, make sure you and your kids are as active as possible. (See Fun family activities to tear teens off tech for lots of ideas!)
Slow down and look around you. Notice that pretty spring flower, that orange streaky sunset, that huge full moon. Appreciating the world around you enhances contentment, which is essential for good mental health. Take a blanket (or something waterproof!) and lie on the grass with your kids and find patterns in the stars. And don’t always be in a rush to get from A to B.
Learn a new skill together as a family. Do a cookery workshop. Play a new board game. Go white water rafting. Or surfing. It doesn’t matter what you do, but learn it together and it will keep your brains agile and help build strong family relationships. Learning new skills helps children feel competent and effective which is great for building children’s self-esteem.
Guided meditation and mindfulness can help the whole family relax, be in the moment and manage anxious thoughts. Mindfulness can be practised through formal disciplines like yoga or just by shutting your eyes for a few minutes and focusing on your other senses. Lots of people find mindfulness apps helpful, especially when first setting out. There are some really good mindfulness apps specifically for children and teenagers – check out this review of the best ones.
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