Journaling is an unsung hero on the fight against mental health for both children and adults. It is a simple activity but writing down your feelings can have a huge effect on your mental health and well being. The power of journaling needs to be utilised more especially for children.
My eldest daughter suffers from anxiety and can get stressed quite easily but since she has started writing in her journal everyday I have noticed a difference in her. She is a lot calmer, is more open with me and talks more about how she is feeling and her confidence has started to grow. She loves to sit down in bed every night and write down the events of the day before she goes to bed.
How Journaling can help with our mental health
Heather Rose from Mindset and Me has developed her own range of journals for both children and adults. She shares with us the benefits of journaling and the ways it can help with our mental health –
“Journaling can be very effective for many different reasons and help you reach a wide range of goals whether that is personal, lifestyle, family or work.
It can help clear your head and make important connections between thoughts , feelings and behaviours.
It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. And if you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.”
Heather’s business Mindset and Me has a wide range of affirmation and mindset products which can help with confidence boosting, teaching the importance of self-love and helping to give inspiration. Her journals have received amazing reviews from lots of parents that have seen the benefits of their children using a journal.
If you are your child is struggling why not give journaling a try and see the benefits for yourself. After seeing how it has helped my daughter I recommend Journaling.
It is Children’s mental health week and with 1 in 8 children aged between 5 to 9 years old suffering from at least one mental disorder it is time that we start looking into ways to help our children from a young age practice good mental health. Data from theNHS.
Emotional well-being in children is just as important as their physical health. If children have a good mental health they can develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and can grow into healthy adults.
We love our children but with our busy lifestyles how often do we show them that we love them. We may spend hours running around after them, tidying up and taking them from club to club, we know we do all these things because we love them but do our children see this as love?
Sometimes we just need to take a minute to spend with our children and show them the love we have for them and that we care about them. Taking time out to listen to them and give them our uninterrupted attention can help show we care and that we love them.
I recently took a online parenting course with Growth & Grit called ‘Managing the mayhem of Meltdowns’ and one piece of advise that has really stuck with me is the need to spend at least 10 minutes everyday with no electronic distractions doing what your child wants you both to do together. Not only will this show you love them but can help build your bond and give them the attention they need from you.
Smothering them with kisses and cuddles is also a great way to show you love them but make sure you get in as many as you can when they are little as once they grow it becomes harder to get kisses and cuddles.
Exercise can help children and adults feel good. When exercising our bodies releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin which help to boost our mood and can alleviate stress and anxiety. Exerciseright.com says that a short 10 minute walk is a great way to elevate anxiety and depression in children, so why not all get out together and go on a family walk.
Being out in nature can also help with mental health as it can help relieve stress, anxiety and in the long term help depression. Take a look at my post about the benefits of nature for more information on how it can improve health and also for ways children can enjoy nature. Even just encouraging your children outside to play for an hour or so a day can help boost their mood.
Yoga and meditation is a good thing to get your children into from a young age even just 15 minutes a week can help make a big difference and they will learn relaxation techniques that they can use in everyday life when feeling stressed.
Starting your children off Journaling at a young age can have so many benefits and help with mental well-being. Scholastic say that Journaling can help children deal with their big feelings. Journal’s are a safe non-judgemental place for children to record how they are feeling and it helps them to express and understand how they are feeling. Journaling for children can also help improve their writing and communication skills. Mindset & Me have created a journal especially for children which is designed to help improve their mental health and well-being as well as build confidence, resilience and help develop high self esteem, Mindset & Me Children’s Journal.
My girls have always been quite good at not spending too much time on their tablets and given the chance would much rather be outside playing than sitting indoors watching YouTube.
However like most of us they start to hibernate during the winter months. When they get back from school it is either too wet, cold or dark to go out and play with their friends so they choose to stay indoors and play on their tablets.
As it got more into winter the time they spent on their tablets became more and more to the point that they would get on them straight from school and stay on them until bedtime. Even when the batteries were running out they would sit on the floor and use them while on charge.
Their only break would be at dinner time!!
We always sit together as a family at dinner and normally talk about their day but when all my youngest could talk about was what had happened on her Youtube videos and couldn’t talk about anything else, that was when I realised enough was enough.
I did look into putting restrictions on their tablets so they can only go on it for a certain time limit a day but all the apps I could find charged and seeing as I would have to pay for them 3 times I decided against using an app. Instead I came up with the idea that they weren’t allowed to use their tablets or watch TV after we had dinner. While not completely banning them I hoped it would work and give them a good balance.
When I first told the girls they took it really well and didn’t moan but if I am honest I thought by the end of the week they would have broken me and I would have given in and let them have their tablets again. I was very surprised by how it went.
Two week into the electronic restriction
I have been so surprised by how my girls have taken to having their time limited on their tablets not one of them has moaned or even begged me to change my mind they have just accepted it and got on.
On the first few days they decided to play Monopoly until after dinner when they could get back on their tablets. Since then they have been playing chess (they have been teaching me how to play it and beating me), drawing, colouring, lego, baking and Lia even decided to raid through the recycling pile to build a house for the elf’s on the shelves to live in.
We also acquired a huge cardboard box for a few days that took up my living room but they had great fun playing and decorating it.
There are days now that dinner has come and gone and they have still been busy making and playing that they have forgotten all about their tablets.
I am determined to keep this up as long as possible. The atmosphere is so much better, we are all talking more and spending more time together and the conversation at dinner time is a lot better.
While technology is a big part of all our lives now I want my children to use and be familiar with it but I also want to find a balance so they can enjoy other aspects of life.
Please do share your comments and any advice/tips that you have on finding a balance with your children using technology.
It all started the day before sports day when I had my long day at work. I spent 8 hours in a glass fronted office in the boiling heat with only one crappy fan to blow round the hot air. I had planned that night to prepare our lunch ready for sports day the next day and I was going to make a pasta salad but instead I was feeling so ill that after the kids went to bed and Dino left to travel back to London for the week to work I went straight to sleep.
I had hoped that if I went to bed early I would be up early and be able to make all our lunches in time for sports day in the morning before the kids woke up.
As you can probably guess that didn’t happen, it was so hot during the night I didn’t sleep very well and of course I then overslept in the morning. We all ended up sleeping in until 8am which on a normal school day we would have been leaving the house at this time to get to breakfast club but this morning we were all still snuggled in our beds.
When we all did finally emerge it was all a rush to get everything ready, well mainly on my part while the kids pottered about all 3 of them moaning at me that they hate sports day and didn’t want to go. I had finally got them all ready when I realised that I hadn’t done the washing up or packed the food or got the blanket ready for sitting on the field with and by that time they should have already been at school.
That was it, I sent them off to school without me (we live 2 mins from the school and my eldest is 10 years old) and I quickly got everything ready and did the washing up then picked up my bags and ran to the school as quick as I could.
Before I could get to sports day I had a meeting booked with one of the teachers to discuss extra help for my daughter. That teacher was then ill so someone else filled in.
To summarise the meeting it went like this, we have had too many staff absences and a high number of children needing extra help so at the moment we cannot help her, we will try next term, it also seemed to me that they were implying some of the issues were down to my parenting skills. By this point I was a broken woman and didn’t have any fight left in me so I just accepted this with a view to meet again next term when I am in a better frame of mind.
By this point sports day had already started so when I went to the field to get a spot it was packed and I couldn’t find anyone I knew to try and sit with so I ended up walking round to the empty side of the field and sitting on my own.
I sorted the mat out and then sat down and got a drink out as I was so thirsty. As I started to sip that ice cold water it suddenly hit me, oh damn I didn’t give my girls any water bottles or bring enough water for us all. How could I forget their water bottles today of all days, it was a burning hot day and they would be out running as fast as their little legs could carry them.
That was it I couldn’t hold it any more the tears just started to roll, the harder I tried to stop them the more they came. Thank god for sunglasses, I put my head down let it all out and had a good old sob. Then I managed to wipe the tears away without anyone noticing, well I was still all on my own on the far side of the field.
After crying though I felt so much better, sometimes you need to reach rock bottom to be able to bring yourself back up.
I took a minute to compose myself then sort out what I was going to do. Co-op is only 5 mins walk away and it was still the reception classes doing there events so I had a little while before any of my girls come up to do their races so I picked up my handbag up and headed for the gate.
Before I got to the gate I spotted a refreshment tent (you have got to love the PTA) and they had water bottles for 50p each, I have never been so happy to see a refreshment stall. Problem solved, I bought the water and managed to hand them to my girls before they started their races.
After that more people came round to the other side of the field and I managed to find another mum that I knew and we chatted. I felt so much better, my previous troubles now seemed a distant problem. Then later on my children in the older years of the school were allowed out to sit with me to watch and cheer for their siblings, they were in a lot happier mood now so they kept me company.
(My older two keeping me company at sports day)
From there my day got better and I did have an enjoyable day, so did all my children despite them moaning in the morning they didn’t want to go and I even took part in the mums race.
I wanted to share this post with you not for sympathy , believe me I hate sympathy, it is to highlight that you never know what people are going through, on the outside they may look like they are fine but inside they can be fighting a secret battle. Even superheroes can’t be super all the time they all have their breaking point.
If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –
This Summer lets go wild, get outside and enjoy nature at its best. Nature can really help improve our health and the more we embrace it, the more we will benefit.
Why not get the whole family together to enjoy the great outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and don’t be afraid to get dirty.
There has been so many studies showing how beneficial spending time in nature can be for both adults and children. An article I found by the BBC reported that spending time in nature can improve vitality, mood and also help anxiety.
I also found on Askthescientist.com a list of 10 interesting health benefits of being in nature these include strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.
With mental health problems on the rise in today’s society and more and more children suffering from stress and anxiety we owe it to ourselves and families to use the healing powers of nature. We need to all take time out from our stressful lives and enjoy some relaxation in our natural surroundings.
Here is a list of ways you can get out with the kids and enjoy nature this summer –
Get the kids digging around in the dirt, looking under stones and in the plant pots to see what bugs they can find. This will help children understand about habitats and they get to see bugs up close. Playing in the dirt has health benefits and there have also been links to it helping fight depression.
Grow your own Vegetables
This is a lovely way to enjoy the outside world as a family you can spend a day together planting your favourite fruit and vegetables and once planted everyone can watch them grow and tend to them. The best reason to grow your own fruit and vegetables is that you are rewarded with delicious home grown produce which always tastes so much better than anything food you buy in shops.
Even if you don’t have a garden you can grow produce in pots and grow bags or go all out and get an allotment.
Wild swimming is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in nature it is both invigorating and refreshing. This can be done in rivers, natural pools or even the sea. Here is a website with a list of places you go wild swimming. Wild swimming can also help boost your immune system and can decrease inflammation and pain. Please do check that it is a safe place to swim beforehand especially in a river.
Just getting out for a walk with the family is a great way to really enjoy nature and there is always so much to see. There are lots of set walks throughout the UK and with the wonder of the internet you can find routes and walking trails before you leave. The National Trust has a list of UK walks and also the Forestry Commission has a list of woodland walks around the country.
I love the beach and always find it a relaxing environment. There is always something for everyone to enjoy at the beach and it is perfect way to get out and enjoy the natural environment. We do tend to avoid the highly commercialised beaches and stick to the quieter more natural beaches.
Build a Den
Den building is a great activity that everyone can join in with it brings out the inner child in you. Whether you hunt for and collect your own materials to build a den or you go to a wood where materials have already been provided for you it will be an enjoyable activity for all.
Pond dipping is a lot of fun and can teach you a lot about what lies below our rivers/ponds and is a very relaxing activity. Just listening to the trickling of the water can help calm any mood.
The Beatles may have famously sung ‘All You Need is Love’ and while Love can bring you together it is Laughter that will keep you together.
We hear stories all the time about people who love one another but argue all the time and this doesn’t just go for couples it is the same for families. While you may love your mum, sister, brother or child unconditionally you may not get on with them or even like them.
Laughter can strengthen relationship bonds and bring you closer together. Real laughter can only be achieved when you are in a state of true happiness so the more laughs you can achieve together the happier you will be with each other.
As we grow older we tend to laugh a lot less as the stresses of life take over which is a shame as laughter can help alleviate stress and there have been some evidence to show that laughter benefits our health too. (Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm )
If you ever needed an excuse to take time out and watch a comedy sketch, movie or even visit a comedy club together this is it, put down phones and immerse yourself in comedy allowing the laughter to take over. You also find laughter can strengthen memories. If you have been somewhere with a friend or family member and had a really good laugh in the process you are more likely to remember this event in time and put it as one of your happier memories.
If you are in search of laughter as a family there are plenty of ways to achieve this together. If you have children listen and pay attention to them kids say and do the funniest thing no doubt you will catch something to make you laugh and children most of the time will join in the laughter and smiles when they see you doing it even if they have no idea what the laughter is about.
You can also play games together, there are games like Pie Face and Speak Out that are designed especially so you can laugh at each other. Also you can make your own games my children love the ‘try not to laugh challenge’ they either make up their own version or put one on youtube. We as a family have also been getting really sour sweets and taking it in turns to eat them and laughing at the faces we all pull whilst sucking on them and if all of the above fails to raise a laugh then a good old tickle fight is sure to have you laughing.
Installing a good sense of humour in children is important and it will help them in the future to build relationships and combat stress and as adults we need to work on adding more laughter to our lives to help balance out the stress we already have. Not to mention laughter is a great tool towards helping mental health issues and stress. With 1 in 6 of us experiencing mental health issues at some point in our lives it is important to try and look into ways to prevent and aid recovery from mental health.
The BBC Trust me I am A Doctor states that laughter can be as effective as exercise as it release endorphins, which can make us experience positive feelings.
So let’s do our best to try and install some laughter back into our lives and spread the joy of laughter to as many people as we can.
If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –