Tuesday August 12th is International Youth Day on which the focus will be Youth and Mental Health.
In Bermuda, we often forget and are sometimes clueless to the complexities and difficulties of growing up especially with the terrible stigma for youth suffering from mental health issues. Depression is the leading cause of disability and it’s important to realize that kids and teenagers can have those bad days just like adults. It’s hard to see your child in a funk, here are a few ways you can help lift their mood.
Get Them to Breath Deeply
Loosen any tight clothing they may have on and sit them in a comfy chair. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth is a small action that makes a big difference. Breathing purposefully helps to clear the mind and calm anxieties by shifting the focus to a new objective. Plus, the loving attention from you is always good for the mood.
Get Them to Cuddle or Play With Animals
Petting an animal lowers blood pressure and reduces anxieties. More and more, hospitals are using animals to improve patients’ physical and mental health. No pets? Try looking at or watching one of the ever-increasing number of adorable animal videos on the Internet, like this one.
Be Spontaneous, Get Them out of the House
Forget the schedule and go completely off-track. If they thought they were staying in to play video games for the night, they were wrong. Take them to dinner and a movie instead. The sudden change will give their system a jolt that is impossible not to enjoy.
Get Them Something Healthy and Invigorating to Drink
While you’re out of the house, a blended fruit smoothie can be an instant mood lifter. Get them to try a flavour that might invoke good memories and has lots of colour. This will help them to envision the health benefits running through their body. We like Juice n’ Beans, a small shop in Hamilton owned by a local family. They have a very large selection of blended fruit smoothies with health giving properties.
Get them to smile (even if forced)
Smile Therapy is an idea that has been used for years to help patients get through a depressive moment. If the episode is particularly bad, it will take time and effort, but even a forced smile sends messages of happiness to the brain. Try smiling first with intent, it’ll be hard for them to resist smiling back. You can also get them to watch a funny video on YouTube, like BYP’s new Granny Ad and watch the inevitable effects. The youth today have many things to think about and can easily be discouraged in life. Breathing, playing with animals, getting out of the house, a fun healthy drink and getting them to smile, even if forced, are all ways that you can actively lift them out of their funk. Showing that you care is an important ingredient for increased self-love, self-esteem and mental security and a healthier family. Happy International Youth Day!
Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know on Facebook.
Join the conversation on twitter #MentalHealthMatters @bermudasearch.
This post was not written by a mental health professional. If you or someone you know needs help, please speak to a therapist.
1. Anonymous. (2013). 12 Steps to Creating Motivation When Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8th, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships-balance/2013/01/28/12-steps-to-creating-motivation-when-depressed/ressed", Psych Central
2. Borchard, T. (2013). 6 Ways Pets Relieve Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 8th, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/19/6-ways-pets-relieve-depression/
3. Kleiman, K., MSW, LCSW (2012). Try Some Smile Therapy. This Isn't What I Expected. Retrieved on August 8th, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201207/try-some-smile-therapy
4. Therese Borchard, Mental Health Writer
Cover photo: Sad by Tamckile, CC
Sad by Loren Kerns, CC