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5 valuable ways to manage mental wellness in kids

My mental wellness plan started early in my years. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It’s not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘relationship with nature? That sounds weird, but what we’re addressing here is mental health and how to manage it. And nature was my #1 go-to, I also have four other incredible ways to tame the lion within ourselves and kiddos.

The beach

My toes were planted in wet sand. My arms stretched out as wind combed through my pigtails. “Let’s give them a show,” I said. I cleared my throat, threw up my hands, and orchestrated the waves as they crashed and rippled onto the beach. My mind was free, I had no stress, I played and used my creativity; I was happy. It was just me and the beach. No toys. No electronics. In fact, no one else was by me. It was a simple setting, yet a powerful one for my mental wellbeing.

The brain

National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be shrugged under the rug. We all have them! Sorry to break that news to you, but we do have our own mental poo; whether it’s addictions (large or small), obsessive-compulsive disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, anger, hypochondria, social challenges, depression, PTSD, or what have you; we all have a touch of something, even your kids do too. Perfectionism doesn’t exist in this world. Now, don’t you feel better you’re not alone?

What can we do about it?

You’d think that we can either fix it or we can try to ignore it. But neither way works very well. What we need to do is manage it. Fixing it 100% doesn’t exist, it’s bound to surface again someday, and ignoring it is going to lead to other problems. Who needs more problems? Yet managing it helps us understand our triggers and how to handle them.

My mental issue

For me, I’m mad at my body. I know that sounds silly, but my body has caused me a lot of grief in my life, from autoimmune hepatitis, hyperemesis gravidarum, bulging disc, miscarriage, colitis, torn ligaments, and nerve damage to name a few. These all have put a mental toll on me. It’s one thing if these ailments are short-lived, but they weren’t and are not. They go on and on. Anyone hear me out there? Some people just go with the flow, and boy, I admire those people. I honestly don’t know how they do it, hence, my mental issue. I’m just mad that my body can’t figure out balance and I eat well and exercise. However, what I do know is that I’m driven to figure it out; that’s why you’ll see posts about health stuff every so often at Simplify Firefly.

Maybe this will help you understand my madness, my dream as a kid was to have optimum health. Weird dream for a kid, but hey, I’m weird. At a young age, I wanted to be super healthy, strong, and run an Iron Man. I’ve been trying to work towards this since 1982 when I was doing Disney Mousercise in my driveway…basically aerobics to Disney tunes, and yes on a Boom box, I had the cassette version. But even at a young age, it was one blow after another, then another. However, I always had hope that I’d learn something new. The Lord gave me that light and helped me through and through. Oh, I love Him so much.

Acceptance

It has taken me years to accept my mental issue, but it’s clear as day to me as I look back on life and I can see how this all came to be. Believe me; my madness wasn’t helping my health at all. It was probably making it worse. A vicious cycle it was and still is if I ignore my mental state.

With that said, this is a journey friend. I still struggle with management today, but I’m determined to understand my root cause, which I know I’m getting closer to. I think that’s why I share so much because maybe someone has gone through the same kind of thing and we can help each other. What do you have to lose?

What to do.

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned. I may not run an Iron Man, but I’ll know a heck of a lot more about how my body works and why it does what it does.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

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When we have an anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call is passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good!

Okay, so what do we do now?

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. Another route to managing our mindfulness includes prescription drugs and/or counseling. These are helpful ways if used correctly, but they can be pricy and scary for that matter. And what about the kids? As parents, we can teach our kids how to manage our ‘uniqueness’ in less complicated ways, of course depending on the severity.

*Disclaimer: For the record, I am not a therapist, nor am I trying to be one. These are things I have personally learned and wanted to share them with you. Please consult your physician before trying anything new, especially if you or your child is at risk of hurting themselves.*  

5 valuable and creative ways to help

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental uniqueness.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

I don’t have 90 minutes to take a walk but I do have 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes are gold to me. My ideal walking area is to be around trees. For you, it might be the beach, the park, field, or mountains.

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The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Show them how to get started with orchestrating the waves, climbing trees, building a fort out of sticks or snow. My favorite is to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken. We had gotten one for our son and he absolutely loved it! He still goes back and looks at his pictures.

If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Head to your hobby

A hobby can do loads for you. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focuses on being creative and being you! Kids love this! I wrote a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try, check’r out!

3. Do something kind for your body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt from stress. As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need a run, a yoga session, a massage, a hot bath, a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches kids how to pamper themselves when pampering is needed.

4. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free-radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados.

5. Journal

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I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given permission to let the hurt get out of you. Write about your journey and what you’re trying to do to help. Put down what is working and what is definitely not working! Put in what you’re grateful for too. Not all journaling needs to be venting, having a flip side to things to healthy. Journaling is a great exercise to help kids express their emotions yet feel like they have some privacy. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal. Another idea is to check out this workbook specifically for anger management. It will you guys understand each other.

For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Taking little steps here and there are strides for our health both body and especially mind. Show your kids how to do it. You’ll be helping yourself and teaching your family. Win-Win!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

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