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What is Mental Health Awareness Month? 🤔
May is now considered mental health awareness month and is a time to raise awareness for those struggling with their mental or behavioural health issues and reduce the stigma that is related to it.
For children it is important that they are made aware of how mental health can impact their lives and how to support each other and themselves through difficult times.
We have cultivated activities that can help in this process of learning about mental health and how to raise awareness this month!
Relaxation Activities 💆
- Stress Toys
- For children struggling with anxiety and stressful times, stress toys can help in relieving tension from the body and relax.
- The idea is to squeeze the stress toy at different speeds and alternating the pressure concentrating on this, will in turn stop negative thoughts and collect the tension in the hands and then releasing it in to the toy so it goes out of the body.
- You can make your own stress toy as part of a fun activity with children by simply filling a balloon with dry rice/pulses. Take the stress toy into your hand and squeeze.
- Bubble Breathing/Breath
- While using a bubble wand and bubble liquid your children can imagine they are blowing the biggest bubble ever!
- Advise them to take a deep breath (for about 4 secs) in and then blow bubbles into the room.
- This relaxing technique gets children to fixate on creating the biggest bubble and taking a deep breath in and holding for 4 and not on intrusive thoughts.
- Push Against a Wall
- This is a perfect quick activity you can do with your child to relieve stress and anxiety without even leaving the space you are in.
- Find a wall and push against it for 10 seconds with all your might…pretending you can push the wall over! Repeat 3 times.
- Doing this makes your muscles contract and then relax, releasing (feel-good) hormones into the body.
For more Relaxation Activities get the Guide to Life and reap the benefits of an holistic approach towards giving children a healthy mindset and positive wellbeing.
Meditation is a great way of combating stress for all ages.
As children today have reportedly higher stress-levels and have brains that can soak up so much knowledge and excitement each day. It’s important that they have time to relax and recharge.
Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Feelings Chart 📊
A feeling chart can help children keep track of the emotions that they feel throughout the day. Children can easily identify the different emotions like happy, sad and angry and what they feel like.
This can lead to discussing through how they felt in different times and how they can prevent/deal with negative emotions and thoughts and concentrate on positive thinking.
Creative Coping Toolbox 🧰
For parents, carers and teachers to be supportive with children’s mental health it is important to understand what they need and how you can facilitate that need into everyday life.
A creative coping toolbox can really help a child feel like there is things to go to when they are not in a good place to switch off from their worries and aid their wellbeing.
Ask your children to find items/trinkets that remind them of good times and bring happiness to them when looking or playing with it. They can fill up their “toolbox” with these items and know that they are there when needed.
You can add extras like stress toys or anything else you think would be beneficial.
BONUS: Once your child has filled their “toolbox” full of things that make them happy explore the reasons as to why they make them happy…this can then be remembered for when they need their items in stressful times.
Communication Activities 💬
This can take place anywhere but the typical time to do this activity is around the table at dinner. Discuss and take turns on what has taken place during the day for each individual, focusing on troubles and highlights and how they were resolved or celebrated.
This can teach children emotional resilience and sets an example of how to deal with their own problems in school or at home (problem solving) and how to recognise and support others with similar issues.
Dress-up at home or “own clothes day” at school can really make a children’s creativity and independence shine. Showing that you are supportive of how they react to this and understand their feelings in this time is imperative.
To make this activity more inclusive do not segregate colour or gender clothing and accessories be more open to what the child thinks looks good and talk about how it makes them feel.
BONUS: It’s Fashion Show Time! Create a fashion show and even get involved to really make children feel at ease and comfortable in the close they have chosen and feel themselves in.