It’s not new that children and teens can develop and show signs of anxiety and depression. Just like adults, they too can be overwhelmed with stress. Youth depression is also a serious mental health problem that needs paying attention to. As parents, we must help them by teaching them ways to deal with anxiety and depression. We should be the first to encourage them to seek professional help. We can help them consult with a family psychiatrist or a school counselor.
Sometimes, kids can be cranky, and teens can be rebellious. Depression, however, is more persistent. It can hinder them from fully functioning in their social and academic activities. They may also isolate themselves from friends and family.
As a concerned parent, you should update and educate yourself regarding mental health issues among children and teens. You must be aware of anxiety and depression symptoms and know different techniques on how to handle them.
Below are six youth counselor-approved activities that can help your kids cope with their emotional distress. Some of these activities you may even do with them as parents.
Kids and even adults can keep a diary. They can write down how their days went, highlighting key events and feelings. It is an outlet where kids and teens can express themselves freely, without the judgment of others. Even little children can keep diaries, even if their reading and writing skills are still developing. If they have a hard time writing down their emotions, teach them how to use drawings, stickers, or pictures instead.
Counselors, in general, approve journal writing as a technique in managing stress. Writing down can help in calming down and being mindful of your own emotions. It helps kids sort their emotions, and teenagers can use them to organize their activities. Keeping a journal gives them the feeling that they are in control of their lives.
It can be frustrating if all your child does is play outside or play video games. However, you should be more alarmed if they stop doing their usual activities. A key indicator of youth depression is the loss of interest in things they enjoy doing before. If that is the case, parents should encourage kids to play with toys or video games.
Especially when done with friends or playmates, games can be a great avenue for social interaction for kids. It can be of great help for kids and teens who have trouble communicating their feelings. Parents can also join in on the fun with family-oriented games. Sitting on the carpet while being immersed in a game with your kid can give them a feeling of companionship. So you should get down on the floor and enjoy some family bonding time.
Nature therapy, or ecotherapy, is one of the activities highly recommended by counselors. It involves surrounding yourself with nature to aid in healing and restoration. You can take a leisurely walk across your local park or hike and camp at a mountain. You can plan activities such as stargazing or fishing with the whole family. Get out and enjoy the fresh air in nature. Research suggests that surrounding yourself with nature is linked to having fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you can’t go out in nature at the moment, start planting your very own garden or take care of a plant with your family. Gardening has been shown to reduce stress levels and keep people more relaxed.
Exercise And Stretching
If you need that instant endorphin boost for your kids, try to engage them in physical activities. Getting up and moving around gets the heart rate up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick jog around the block or a full 30-minute dance routine. Exercising activates neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Once active, these help in uplifting your kid’s mood.
You should also stretch from time to time. Teach your kids to include routine stretches within the day. It doesn’t have to be a full yoga session. When your kid gets up to stretch, it releases tension within their body. It gives them a couple of minutes to breathe slowly and lower their heart rate, which helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. You can initiate a family exercise or stretching session. Get the whole family involved in a new active endeavor.
Studies reveal that cooking in a kitchen makes people happier. People who participate in activities such as cooking report feeling more relaxed than people who do not. Counselors now consider cooking to be therapeutic for people dealing with anxiety and depression. It gives people a task to focus on, reducing stress and keeping anxiety levels low. Creating a hearty dish can also give you a boost of confidence and improve your self-esteem. If your kid is showing symptoms of mental health issues, try to engage them in household chores or activities. Include them in the process of making food for the family. It is also a good opportunity to let your kid openly communicate with you.
Much like cooking, creating art gives you a feeling of accomplishment by creating something from nothing. Art therapy makes kids engrossed in the creative process, which is linked to having positive emotions and reduced stress. Art can manifest in different forms. It can be through the school band, learning a new instrument, photography, or painting. However, you should note that you shouldn’t pressure your kids into being perfect in their art. Remember that just getting engaged in the activity is enough to reap the benefits of art therapy.
It is important to note that these activities are not a replacement for professional therapy. It is still best to consult with your local counselor or psychiatrist when your kid has mental health problems. You could also ask them what activities would be best suited for your family. But being proactive in seeking activities to help with your child’s anxiety and depression is always good. Your child is sure to see that you support them and that you’ve got their back no matter what.