Tags – Mental health tips for parents
In light of the recent pandemic, children and teenagers have been struggling with mental health, such as anxiety and depression, more now than ever more.
But, parents and carers are struggling too; they need to be there for their children whilst taking care of their own mental well-being.
Many parents can recognise signs and symptoms of mental health, but don’t always necessarily know how to cope with them or process them.
Unlike any other job, there is no rulebook or job description when it comes to parenthood. Rather, you have to depend on your own strategies to cope with both the good and the bad.
One thing for certain is: by taking a positive approach to promote healthy mental wellbeing in your children, will in turn have a positive impact on your own mental health too.
With that in mind, here are 5 mental health tips for parents.
1. Recognise When You Feel Overwhelmed
It’s very easy to spot when your physical health is not on point, but when things become too overwhelming, this often gets overlooked.
However, feeling overwhelmed can result in feeling tired all the time, poor sleeping patterns, headaches, feeling irritable, increased stress and anxiety levels and so much more.
Over time, these can cause physical changes, such as shallow breathing or muscle tenseness, which contributes to feelings of stress.
As such, recognise when you’re feeling overwhelmed and try to refocus the negatives into positives.
And if you do find yourself in a situation where you may react to your child with intensity, just pause and take a break until you can react with more control.
Remember, a hostile reaction is not good for anyone and it could hurt your connection with your child, so unless your child is in danger, sometimes no reaction is better than a bad one.
To put it differently, practice self-care. This doesn’t have to mean you have to go away for a spa weekend (unless you can!), but it can be as simple as closing the door and removing yourself from an argument, and this will also set a great example for your child too.
2. Focus on the Present
If your family is going through a stressful time, you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone – it happens to almost everyone.
As a parent, you feel it’s your responsibility to keep everything together, from a strict school routine to proper meal times, but it’s impossible to be perfect all the time.
Recognise that it’s OK to let some things slide, and what’s more important is your relationship with your child.
For instance, if your child is having a difficult time at school, rather than worrying about their grades, focus on their mental well-being instead.
In fact, children tend to perform better when there is less pressure put on them, and use this opportunity to connect with your child to solve their problems right here and now.
The same applies for anything else that may be causing you stress, for example worrying about a partner’s job security, finding it difficult to manage your child’s behaviour or money issues. It’s a good idea to write all of your stressors down and create a sense of order so you can think clearly and take action, one thing at a time.
3. Prioritise Bed Time
Everyone knows the importance of sleep for children, but it’s equally as important for parents too as this will impact both your physical and mental health.
Consequently, a lack of sleep will negatively impact your mood and is a key element for increased stress for everyone in the household.
As such, try to create a bedtime routine for you and your children. This means, minimising blue light emitted from screens, as this signals your brain to stay awake; consider buying smart bulbs that eliminate blue light at night but emit more of it during the morning.
Secondly, it’s recommended to avoid using any digital devices 30 minutes before you’re about to go to sleep and instead, engage in a relaxing activity such as meditation, reading, having a hot bath or drinking chamomile tea.
4. Have a Healthy Diet
As they say, you are what you eat.
And having a healthy diet not only gives you a healthy body, but a healthy mind as well.
It’s no secret the body needs fuel to function properly, and consuming a balanced diet will help the prefrontal cortex of the brain, allowing you to concentrate better and feel less irritated.
Backed by science, research reveals that a diet full of processed meats, fried food and high-fat dairy products can result in high levels of depression and anxiety.
On the other hand, a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables brings great healing and restoring powers.
If you’re unsure of which foods you should be eating, here’s a quick overview:
- Berries: contain antioxidants and compounds that improve attention, concentration and memory as well as reduce symptoms of poor mental health
- Nuts: specifically walnuts help to promote the growth of new brain cells
- Probiotics: found in yoghurt assist with lowering stress levels
- Omega 3: found in fatty fish like salmon, can reduce anxiety as well as improve memory
- Amino acids: from wholegrains produces serotonin – the “feel good” hormone, which boosts mood and calms your mind
- Beans and lentils: are full of fibre which helps to keep blood sugar stable and helps you burn energy needed for good mental health
5. Limit Alcohol
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favourite glass of wine in the evenings, but it is a good idea to limit your alcohol intake.
The biggest reason being, is alcohol affects the chemicals in your brain and nervous system. And the nervous system controls most of the functions in your mind and body, but alcohol slows down the ability.
Unfortunately, alcohol can have an effect on the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling inhibition, which is why many people feel less anxious after having a drink.
But whilst you may feel relaxed in the short term, drinking regularly can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, making stress harder to deal with.
If you are a drinker, try and stick to the NHS guidelines; spread 14 units over 3 days and try to have at least 2 alcohol-free days.
By no means is this an extensive list, but hopefully it has given you some food for thought on how you can minimise stress and therefore have a healthier relationship with your child.
By making small changes, such as a healthy diet or limiting alcohol intake, you will be able to better tune into your feelings and manage symptoms of mental health.
However, if you do start feeling overwhelmed and have any concerns about your mental wellbeing, do not hesitate to contact your GP.
For more information, get in touch today.
In the meantime, take a look at our Court of Protection services.
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