This Mental Health Awareness Month, we recognize the importance of nurturing our children’s mental health, which has become a hot topic in recent years. While we have made great strides in supporting our children’s mental health, we still have a long way to go to ensure our children lead healthy lives and thrive.
According to statistics, nearly 20% of American children will be diagnosed with a mental illness, which shows how essential it is to ensure we can find solutions that address mental health concerns in our children, just as we would their physical health concerns.
What can we do to support our children’s mental health? Here are five fun activities to help you get started:
Exercise is an excellent way to promote a healthy mindset. When we exercise, endorphins are released in our bodies, leading to feelings of happiness. Exercising as a family can be a fun and engaging way to stay active and spend quality time together. Some of our favorite family exercises include going for a walk or a bike ride, playing sports together or even trying a family workout routine.
Practicing mindfulness is a powerful method to decrease stress and anxiety while cultivating feelings of relaxation. While meditation and deep breathing exercises are popular mindfulness activities, exploring creative avenues such as coloring or drawing can help your child express and process their emotions.
Cook Healthy Meals Together
Family time in the kitchen is priceless. Cooking together as a family not only fosters healthy eating habits but also provides another opportunity for bonding. Consider planning and preparing meals together, experimenting with new recipes or even starting a family garden to grow your own fruits and vegetables.
Connect with Nature
Spending time in nature has been shown to positively impact mental health, with research indicating that it can reduce stress, enhance mood and foster feelings of happiness and well-being. As a family, try planning outdoor activities such as hiking, camping or spending time in your backyard. You can also engage in nature-based activities such as birdwatching or even gardening.
Who doesn’t love family game nights? Playing games together can reduce stress, build resilience and promote feelings of happiness and unity. Certain games, such as card games or board games, may even enhance cognitive skills. To incorporate game nights into your family routine, consider scheduling a weekly or monthly event, with each family member taking turns choosing the game. Alternatively, you can make game night a spur-of-the-moment occurrence, choosing a game to play together after dinner or on a relaxed weekend afternoon.
Want more best practices? Don’t forget to check out our PTA Healthy Minds Program for additional activity resources to help you and your child make mental health an everyday priority!
Sarah Weatherby is a communications consultant with Sarah Weatherby Public Relations.