Mental health refers to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” To help your child improve his or her mental and emotional health it is important to simultaneously address his or her behavioral health. While one’s mental health encompasses several factors (e.g., one’s biology, one’s psychological condition, and one’s habits) behavioral health examines how one’s habits impact one’s overall physical and mental well-being. Good behavioral health means engaging in behaviors that aim to achieve an ideal mental and physical balance. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide the following six suggestions to help nurture and enhance your child’s mental and emotional health:
- Get quality sleep: Sleep is a fundamental necessity of life, and even a minor sleep deficit can have a significant effect on one’s physical and mental health.
- Strengthen social connections: Research shows that young people with strong social connections, who feel connected at school and at home, are 66% less likely to experience negative health outcomes related to sexual health, substance use, violence, and mental health issues in adulthood. Further, children that maintain social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network.
- Exercise regularly: Exercising can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin and norepinephrine) in the brain, boosting one’s mood. The Academy of Neurological Therapy asserts that “exercise has been shown to help improve and prevent many conditions, including: weight management, stress levels, emotional regulation/ mood, memory, attention, strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and blood pressure regulation.”
- Build resilience: Courtney Clark, in her famous TED Talk on emotional resilience, asserts that guided meditation and mindfulness practices have been positively connected to emotional resilience, and explains that “the emotional turmoil that follow a stressful experience can be purposefully resolved through practicing simple meditation every day.” Research has found that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.
- Embrace mindfulness: The Mayo Clinic explains that the practice of mindfulness involves focusing on “being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgment.” The purpose of practicing mindfulness techniques is to help increase one’s ability to regulate emotions, which simultaneously decreases unwanted feelings such as stress, anxiety, and/ or depression. Clinical findings indicate that the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness can be directly correlated to a reduction in one’s stress levels, producing a positive effect on one’s immune system, and boosting one’s mood.
- Be kind to yourself: Practicing positive self-talk, for example, encourages self-confidence, effective coping, achievement, and a general feeling of well-being. Select a few affirmations, or positive statements, that speak to you and repeat them regularly. Avoid self-criticism, treat yourself with respect, and show yourself grace and understanding when you make a mistake.
Further Information and Support
For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.