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5 New Year's Resolution to Improve your Family's Mental Health in 2020

It’s a new year and it feels like a new page. That’s why, at this time of the year, we make New Year resolutions. It feels like the perfect time to start afresh. But New Year resolutions can be the target of humour too, because we often don’t stick to them and, by February, they are long forgotten.

But if there are resolutions that, more than ever, need our focus, they are those targeted at improving our mental health.

My husband told me yesterday of a High School teacher who is going back on Monday to his class knowing that one of his students will never come back. Tragically, one this teenager took his life over the Christmas holidays.

For the first time, there is an awareness of how vulnerable our children and teenagers are to mental health issues and it is our responsibility as parents, and as a society, to do what must be done to improve their situation.

Here are 5 easy New Year resolutions for you and your family to keep your minds as clear and happy as they can possibly be.

1. Limit Access to Social Media and Youtube

I know, that’s always a tough one. My kids are really bad for watching Youtube and unpacking videos, etc, but the impact of Social Media and online activity on children and young people has been more than proven. Instagram, by starting to remove the amount shown of likes on pictures, is taking a small measure to help the amount of dependence on online approval of people, but it’s hardly enough. From Youtubers showing you how marvelous their lives is to the best brands to buy for [insert product here], it’s a lot of information for children to absorb and it’s not the best reflection of what real life is like.

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And more than limiting the time, there needs to be more of a conversation on how realistic the images portrayed by these people, both on Social Media and videos, are and what reality looks like.

2. Set a Specific Time to Dedicate to your Children

It seems obvious, maybe, but it might be the most effective on. Set a specific day a month to spend time with your kids, individually. Having time that they can spend on they own with you, father or mother, will give them the opportunity to talk to you about things they might not have dared in front of their other parent, or their siblings.

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Knowing they have your full attention for a few hours alone will already make a difference to their ability to communicate their feelings, knowing that there will be a place and time when you will be uninterrupted.

And of course, if you can, make it more than once a month.

Other variations of this involve setting up a self space for honest, free of consequences (ish) conversation and communication, such as a monthly of fortnightly round table for everybody to share, if they need to, etc.

3. Set a Positivity Board

Positive affirmations help your brain face the day. Brains are strange and complicated and mysterious, to be honest, but, somehow, they respond to your state of mind. If you tell yourself over and over everything is going to go wrong, your brain will eventually believe it and face life that way.

So why bother with the negative.

Convince your brain you can do it (it being anything you want). It’s the first step to achieve your goals.

Hang a white or black board in the kitchen (or where you can) and get every member of the family to write a positive affirmation on it. Some ideas:

  • I’m going to finish my reports on time.
  • I am going to do great in my exam.
  • Math is going to get my full attention today.
  • I am smart!

It can be anything, really. The more you do it, the more your brain will get used to facing life with a positive outlook.

4. Practice Relaxation Together

Mindfulness and relaxation are both subjects that are now being addressed in some schools, but you can certainly do your bit at home. Movie nights, game nights, arts and crafts, all of those are good options.

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For the more proficient of you, yoga is great for both body and mind.

But for those with maybe not so much time, did you know that a hug that is 20 seconds or longer has great health benefits, both physically and mentally?

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Sometimes you can do everything ‘right’ (if there is such a thing, when you’re raising children) and still not make anything better. It’s time to call for help.

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On the NHS website you can find information of what services to contact, although you can always talk to you GP. Here you’ll find contact details for organizations who offer support, whether online or on the phone.

You’re not alone, not as a child, and not as a parent. There are mechanism to help you out there, and while they are not perfect, the first step is always to reach out.

Let’s not let 2020 go by without taking positive steps towards improving our mental health and making sure our families are as healthy as possible.

Happy 2020, everyone!

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