Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Ways to help your child cope with mental health issues

There are many different mental health disorders that young children might have to deal with in their lives and, although each might need addressing slightly differently, there are some common ways to help your child cope.

Communication

One of the best ways to help your child cope with mental health issues is by communicating openly with them at all times. By showing your child respect and by being able to communicate honestly, you are allowing them the opportunity to discuss their feelings in a safe environment where they feel loved and unjudged.

Even without facing a mental health issue, growing up can often be difficult for children as they are learning about themselves and discovering their identity in the world. When we share our experiences with our children and discuss how we have dealt with similar issues, it can make them feel less alone and more comfortable to speak about their own feelings.

Ask for help

Because there are many different mental health issues, including bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD, depression and autism to contend with, sometimes we need to ask the experts for help as we are not always equipped with the knowledge and resources to deal with it on our own.

Encouraging your child to talk to the experts can give them and yourself a greater insight into the issue and you’ll learn about different strategies that can be put in place. Also, you’ll find support groups for children with similar mental health issues, which can make your child feel less alone and more accepted.

Provide a supportive environment

Once you've spoken with your doctor or social worker, you’ll be able to recognise symptoms and adjust your child’s environment accordingly. If you notice certain mood changes or specific symptoms that relate to their disorder, you’ll be more equipped to provide the right environment.

Perhaps you need to give them some space, or maybe they’ll benefit from an activity that will stimulate their mind, but you will be in a much better position to understand what your child needs.

Take care of their physical wellbeing

It’s equally as important to look after your child’s physical wellbeing in order for them to cope with their mental health issue. Spend time with them outside, whether that’s taking a walk in the countryside or going on a bike ride. Plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet and a good sleep regime will all contribute towards improving their mental wellbeing.

Take care of yourself

Most importantly, remember to look after yourself, both mentally and physically so that you are able to provide the best possible care for your child. We are all human and no matter what age we are, we also need self-love. If you feel yourself becoming stressed, anxious or tired, take some time out and do something you enjoy or simply rest and clear your mind. Mindfulness and meditation are great ways to recharge your batteries and gain a clearer perspective on life.

Further information

It can be helpful to know what are ‘normal’ issues for a child to experience at a given stage of their life. Our booklet ‘Flourishing children – help your child to thrive’ looks at the different issues a child may experience and the sorts of things that may help. Download our families booklet here >

The NHS also has a wonderful online hub of information that provides children with advice and help on dealing with mental health issues.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Tips for preserving your energy

Have you ever felt that you’re being pulled in so many different directions that you can’t keep up? Work demands, family commitments, peer pressure and even the pressures of social media can all have a huge influence on your life without you even realising how much they’re draining you of your life energy.

When you’re being deprived of your inner strength and natural spark, it’s time to re-evaluate your life and flick the off switch. We have some much-needed tips for preserving your energy and reclaiming your life.

What drains you?

First and foremost, it’s important to take some time out to sit down and assess your current situation. What gives you the most beneficial return for the energy you spend and what do you need to eliminate from your life?

You might find that the most common stressor in your life is the demands of other people, or perhaps you get too caught up in 'keeping up with the Joneses', but whatever it is that’s draining you, you need to reverse the effects.

Avoid negative people

Often, one of the greatest drains on our energy reserves is people. Maybe they expect too much of us or pass their negativity on to us.

However, it's not possible to avoid all people all the time, but there are ways that we can reduce the impact they have on our lives. If a chat with a friend or colleague turns into gossip, make an excuse to leave the conversation and don’t get drawn in. Not only can negative talk of others cause an unwelcome atmosphere, it can also cause a lot of upset to the person being talked about.

You’ll also probably meet the types of people who are all too quick to point out your flaws or are critical of your lifestyle choices. Remember that how you conduct your life isn’t the business of anyone else. Try to avoid sharing any personal information with this type of person and don’t get into an argument with them.

How to say no

It can be easy to fall into the trap of being a people-pleaser, especially at work or with close friends and family, but if you are making too many sacrifices that ultimately leave you feeling unhappy, you need to learn to say no.

This can be quite difficult and can make us feel uncomfortable but once you realise that self-care is important to your wellbeing, the easier it becomes to say no.

  • Don’t feel the need to give reasons behind your decision
  • Remain polite yet assertive at the same time
  • Don’t give into pressure

If the person who is asking something of you has a negative response, all the more reason to stay firm. Do you really want to sacrifice your happiness for someone who doesn’t respect your decision?

Stop competing with everyone else

With social media playing such a huge part in many people's lives these days, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself and trying to live up to others’ ‘perfect lives’. Remember, what is portrayed on social media is often a false perception and people only let you see what they want you to see.

A study by the Royal Society for Public Health examining the effects of social media, shows that in the last 25 years, anxiety and depression in children has increased by 70%. There is so much pressure to look or live life a certain way, that we forget to appreciate our positive qualities and instead, focus on the negative.

Try replacing scrolling with something more meaningful, such as a country walk among nature. The less time you spend online and the more time you spend outside or doing something that makes you feel good, the less you will feel drained. These ongoing negative feelings can leave us stressed, anxious and depressed so it’s vital to step away and remind ourselves of what’s really important.