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Mental health first aid in the home

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Research has shown that as young children get older they become less comfortable with saying that they are experiencing things like anxiety or depression. So whilst little ones will simply tell you that they feel scared or that their tummies are tight by the time they become adolescents information like this can start to be held inside.

Home is our haven and it is here that we look to to relax, let go and De-stress. This article on mental health first aid  in the home is to help you provide an atmosphere of openness, care and acceptance that will support mental wellbeing, some that take a bit of organising to put into place and others that are simple, quick and effective.

Think before you speak

Communication is an area of life that impacts us immensely. We can all remember specific comments from years ago that stayed with us because of how they made us feel, for better for worse. Whilst it is probably unrealistic to ensure that all of what you say to your youngsters is positive and supportive, aiming for 80% is a useful guide. Times when they are coming and going into the house  are of particular importance in terms of separation anxiety and integration back into home life again. Make it a practice to welcome them in before saying anything else, especially anything about arrangements, or schoolwork, exams or any other form of pressure. acceptance of different opinions. If there is a crisis going on find a way of naming that this is happening before jumping straight into all the detail of it all. Similarly when children are going off somewhere, keep your goodbyes clean and resist the temptation to shout extra instructions after them from the doorsteps. Remind yourself that they won’t hear the words but will just feel an energy of stress!

Having your own space

Personal space at home is fantastic if possible. first aid at homeA place that each person can call their own and know that they have control over who or what comes in. If your kids share rooms find ways of creating individual spaces within this set up. Curtains around lower bunk beds are great for walling off a space that can often feel invaded if other kids are clambering over to get to the top. Special chairs that no one else sits it are also an option if space is limited.

If there are lots of you in the home, having one room that is known as the quiet space is a valuable asset if it is possible. A place where there are no screens, no raised voices, maybe a fire or fish or something else like a larva lamp to just watch and relax to. You could have a rota of time alone there or spend time winding down together. At the other end of the spectrum letting off steam activities are just as important for good mental health. Time that support youngsters to really express themselves fully, and exert themselves physically to the point of physical tiredness are essential for wellbeing. Let your kids choose the activity that they want whether it’s climbing or drumming or football and do your best to find an outlet that meets their needs.

Family time

Quality family time in whatever way works reminds all of you that you belong to a strong tribe and that you are there for each other. Activities that all of you enjoy maybe hard to find but simple things like a walk, having a fire in the garden or watching a film together regularly are all balm to family stress levels. Of equal importance is time out for you, this is a great way to restore your own resources and to show the rest of the family that you respect and take your own needs seriously. It can be incredibly easy to sacrifice yourself whilst providing for everyone else but it is a short term measure and ultimately sends out a very unhealthy message to your children and partner.

Herbal remedies

Home remedies like lavender oil or chamomile tea or bath salts are great aids to a quiet and peaceful mind. Just having an oil burner (out of reach of your toddlers!) with some lavender oil is an easy step to generating calm in your living space. Background music that is known to shift brain waves out of beta and into alpha or theta is another resource that you can easily install. Having a pet is a great destresser as long as the time and money that it demands don’t bring too much stress into your life. Having little inspiring comments on walls  around the house or having a  blackboard in the kitchen for everyone to write jokes on is another great way to increase the feel good vibes!

 

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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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