Children’s mental health week

This week is recognised as Children’s Mental Health Week. So, I wanted to bring some practical tips and advice to anyone who may be struggling.

I do however want to start by being open and honest with you all. I am not a mental health expert for children, and some of the information below I know is far easier said than done. If you have any concerns about your or your child’s mental health please seek professional advice, your GP is a good place to start.

In the same vein though, the human body and physiology remain the same for all us human beings so these simple steps can have the potential to make all the difference for anyone suffering with mental health challenges.

Let’s first investigate where mental health struggles may start. And if you have heard me speak or read my blogs before, it will come as no surprise to you that the three areas that can cause the body to become sick are the same three areas that can affect our mental health. These are:

  • Thoughts
  • Traumas
  • Toxins

These are the three examples of stress that affect us, and it is not simply ‘the stress’ that gets us, it is how well our physiology (our body) can adapt (cope with) to it that is key.

You see, someone could be under what we would all perceive to be extreme emotional stress but show no signs of it physically or mentally affecting them, or on the other hand someone could be under the simplest amount of stress and be totally physically and mentally consumed by the whole process.

So, the key to really improving mental health is to improve the human body’s ability to adapt to the three stressors; Thoughts, Traumas, and Toxins.

Here are some examples of each:

Thoughts: Emotional stress is most commonly thought of when we are discussing mental health because emotions in the brain have a real hold on us. I have found that for the majority of people I have worked with, most of it stems from our comparison of ourselves to others. Always feeling we should look, be or behave in a certain way that is not how we really and truly want to look, be or behave, and as such we falsely try to be something we are not which leads to a destructive internal dialogue and conflict.

Traumas: Physical trauma to the body can change communication between the body and the brain because we understand that to stay active and vibrant, the brain needs stimulation. This comes in the form of movement from the body. Therefore, a lack of movement, potentially caused by recovery after an injury, can really limit the brain’s activity and lead to emotional state changes.

Nowadays though, it is a lot more prevalent and not from injuries. It is actually from sitting. We all sit too much and especially our children. With the advancement of technology and comfort, children more commonly sit for long hours after school on computers and games rather than be outside exercising and moving. This reduces their brain activity and can have significant effects on emotion and development.

Toxins: We all know that a bag of sweets can make our children hyper. But do we really know how serious an effect this is having on their brain and body? We can easily associate bad foods with poor body health such as obesity and childhood diabetes, however, we rarely consider the mental implications this is having on our children. The two most damaging foods common to our diet for a child’s mental health and wellbeing are; sugar and wheat/gluten. Both have been shown to have negative effects on the brain and lead to anxiety-type disorders.

So, with all this doom and gloom, what can we do?

Here are my Top 3 Super Simple Tips for a Childs Mental Health:

  1. Gratitude: Emotions are the biggest and most complicated of all I mentioned above. The most common mental health state is anxiety. And it really is not easy just to be positive, to laugh it off. However, there is a way to change the brain state and that is through the exact opposite emotion of anxiety, which is gratitude. The art of being thankful. Take time with your child to stop each morning and evening and think and talk about all the things you are grateful for in life and on that day in particular.
  2. Move: It is as simple as moving. Walk around the block each evening. Pick up a football. Swing your arms in the air to some funky music. Move every single day for at least 20 minutes. And yes, there is always time.
  3. Cut Sugar and Wheat: There is no simple way around this, it is simply a matter of fact. Sugar and wheat are toxic for us as humans. We must reduce them in our diet. We all know what is good and bad for us. We just need to decide to make that difference.

I hope you find this helpful and please share it with anyone you know will benefit.


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