This week we are going to talk about self-care and what you can do to support any children or young people that you are responsible for with their self-care practices. Who knows, some of what we are going to share today might be helpful for you too!
First of all, just what is self-care? You might have come across the term in newspapers, magazines and other places but have no idea what it actually is. Well, I would like you to think about a mobile phone. When your phone is fully charged, it works really well, doesn’t it? Everything moves quickly and if it’s a new battery it can last all day. But after you’ve had it for a while, and as you use it on a day-to-day basis, the battery doesn’t work as well and you need to charge it, right? Think of your mental health and well-being as the mobile phone, and self-care as the cable that you use to charge your phone on a regular basis. Self-care is the little thing you can do to look after your mental health and well-being.
Self-care is important because it allows you to move from a negative mood or frame of mind to a positive one. Developing these skills, habits and personal rituals as a child or young person can help someone learn how to look after their mental health and wellbeing into adulthood, but like so many things in life, they need you to set an example – make self care a priority for yourself and those around you are more likely to join in.
So what are some self care activities that you could do with a child or young person to help them and encourage them to try and develop self care skills and habits?
“Leave it at the Door” Exercise
We often get told to leave work at work and things like that, but the same can apply to negative emotions. While this is a difficult exercise because it can be so hard to put negative thoughts to one side, but it is important. It could be as simple as training yourselves to leave negative thoughts about the day at work or school at the front door when you get home, or it could be something like you talk about the negativity when you get in and leave them at your bedroom door. You could even make it a part of a bedtime routine – leave negative thoughts at the door when you go to bed.
“Screen free” time
Encourage children and young people to put their phones or other devices away and develop hobbies and skills that don’t need them and that can help their mental health. This could be a sport or other physical activity that they’ve wanted to try. It could be drawing or writing or another creative activity. It could even just be reading a book before they go to sleep! Also, make it a rule not to have their phones at dinner and discourage them from having their phones in their room at night time.
This might seem easier said than done but developing good relationships and communication skills is crucial for adulthood, both mentally and in the wider scheme of things. This begins at home, with you, and other adults in the family environment. This doesn’t have to be a set time to sit and talk about what problems they might be having. It can be as simple as watching a favourite film together or going to the park or a class together. Whatever it is, you will find that it will not only help your relationship grow but will help a child or young person find new ways to look after their mental health.
We hope this gives you the clarity on self-care that you need and that it has given you ideas for how to bring more self-care into a child’s or young person’s life.