Mental health is no longer a taboo topic that people shy away from discussing both in public and at home. In fact, focusing on discussing and improving mental health is arguably the most important thing you can do together as a family. Having open discussions about emotions in your family and individual needs can teach your children how to have a healthy system in place for supporting their mental health needs. Learning to verbalize their emotional needs at an early age will help your children thrive in life.
There are different things you can do to help take care of your family’s mental health. While every family dynamic is unique, there are certain activities and strategies that tend to work for all people. Finding what works best for your family is helpful to establish a secure bond and safe place to discuss and support one another’s mental health.
1. Schedule Weekly Check-Ins Together
Life can be busy and it is easy to get in a rhythm while ignoring the emotions you may be feeling as you conquer your daily responsibilities. For both kids and adults, it is important to have a dedicated time during the week to be able to discuss the emotions felt throughout different interactions both at home and out in the world.
Scheduling a dedicated time for your family to have a mental health check-in can help encourage your family to talk openly about both their struggles and successes. Even if things seem to be going well, there may be issues that have been unspoken that need to be addressed. Having a dedicated time for a check-in will ensure that everyone’s voice is being heard.
2. Create Healthy Habits and Routines
Many people thrive with routine and structure. KIds especially need to have healthy habits and routines in place to help them navigate school and home life. Children have lots of emotions they feel throughout the day, and having some things they know are stable and secure can help them navigate the different emotions they are feeling. Creating a family schedule together can help your kids take ownership of their own mental health by setting aside time for rest.
3. Work with a Somatic Therapist
One of the best things you can do to help take care of your family’s mental health needs is to schedule therapy appointments for different members of your family. Finding a nurturing and supportive therapist can provide your family with tools and tips to deal with any mental health concerns that may arise.
Working with a somatic therapist specifically will help give you the tools needed to help support your mental health. Somatic therapy focuses on connecting the mind and body to both present and past experiences. Many somatic therapists will work with an entire family at once so that everyone in the family unit is processing experiences together and learning tools and techniques they can use to help regulate emotions.
4. Plan Fun Family Activities
Mental health research shows that having activities and events to look forward to helps increase serotonin in the brain which increases your overall mood. Whether you are simply planning a fun family outing to a local park or planning a bigger event like a vacation, having something for the whole family to look forward to can help increase the overall mood in your home.
When planning the event, make sure to involve all members of the family so everyone feels included. Since different individuals will have different interests, try and incorporate activities that everyone will look forward to doing together. This is also a good opportunity to work on compromise as a family.
Kids especially need the chance to learn how to compromise and be patient with other people in the family. If one family member doesn’t have their favorite activity planned for the first outing, encourage them that they can help plan the next outing instead.
5. Eat Meals Together
It may seem like a simple thing to do, but eating meals together is an important part of taking care of your family’s mental health. Research has shown that when families eat meals together there are numerous benefits.
Studies have shown levels of anxiety and depression are decreased while levels of self-esteem are increased when family dinners are a regular occurance at home. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal. Simply sitting down together at a table for a meal and enjoying one another’s company is the goal for family dinners.
6. Prioritize Spending Time Outside as a Family
Sunshine can make a huge impact on mental health. Ensuring that you spend time together as a family outside can help strengthen your family bond while also providing some much needed Vitamin D.
Not only does fresh air and sunshine increase mood, but research has shown that there are numerous cognitive benefits you gain by spending time outside as well such as increased attention span and memory. Prioritize spending at least an hour a day outside as a family. Some ideas for simple outside time include going on a family walk or eating dinner outside on a patio or balcony.
Getting in the habit of prioritizing your family’s mental health will help your family establish a solid foundation of support and acceptance no matter what life experiences you all may encounter. Spending time working with a therapist and participating in somatic therapy can help give you all tools and techniques to use to support one another.
Eating meals together and spending time outside will allow your family to establish healthy habits together. Taking care of your family’s mental health is one of the most important things you can do together to support one another and help your family thrive.