Keep learning to help your children’s well-being
As Action Mental Health focuses on parenting as part of the #CovidWellbeingNI campaign and the benefits of the Five Ways to Wellbeing, we’re urging mums and dads to encourage their children to keep learning, as we emerge from the lockdown – and beyond.
It can be daunting learning something new, especially in these uncertain times when we lack structure and routine in many areas of life. But, as we all know, variety is the spice of life. If your children keep learning new things, or find a new hobby they’ll feel more confident, they’ll have something new to enjoy and it will boost their self-esteem and improve their overall well-being.
There is a whole host of opportunities out there to try, whether learning a new language (try Duolingo app for free and fun language practice); learning to cook, (try BBC Good Food’s recipes); delving into the myriad free podcasts available; or by developing a consistent reading habit (try World Book Online’s 3000 free ebooks and audiobooks or libraries NI); or learning the fundamentals of a new physical hobby, like yoga.
The Mental Health Foundation also encourages us to learn on a number of other fronts:
Learn to control what can be controlled – there are a lot of things you can’t control that cause fear and anxiety – but there are some things you can manage or plan for. Having an action plan for managing things we might find difficult can help.
Learn to pace yourself – recognising that we need to go at the right pace is important. Don’t let others bully or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to – but try not to let that be an excuse not to push yourself, especially when it comes to reconnecting with friends safely, outside your home, when rules allow and the time is also right for you. It can be hard to let others move forward without you – maybe your child wants to see friends or needs to return to work, but you can’t. It’s important to discuss concerns with those close to you, but also to allow other people space to move at their own pace.
Learn to build up tolerance – try doing something that challenges you every day, or every few days. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go well but keep at it. Keep a note of things you’ve achieved, enjoyed or surprised yourself doing.
Learn to vary your routines – try and vary your routines so that you see different people and encounter different situations
Learn to cope with uncertainty – there has been a lot of talk of a ‘new normal’ – but normal is changing and uncertainty, and managing risk, is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future. This is not something that’s comfortable for many of us, particularly when we’re only just about coping with our mental health. The ‘new normal’ for most of us will mean ‘what we need to get through today, or this week’ – it’s going to be very difficult to predict what the course of the rest of the year will look like, and with so much of the media talking about possibilities and stages without certainty, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘what-ifs’.
It can help to focus on the things we have learned and achieved in the last few months.
Most of us have been tested in ways we never imagined, have passed those tests and found new ways to manage – or even flourish. For many of us lockdown has challenged our values and what is important to us. The life, values, and attitudes we had in early March might not be the ones we want to return to in July, and there may be opportunities for us to make positive changes in our lives as well.