What greater aspirations do we have for our children than health and happiness? Physically, we build them up with proper rest, diet, and exercise. We teach them the importance of healthy hygiene. Somehow, despite the crucial importance of mental health, it is often overlooked, if not altogether forgotten. Especially as children get older, the world can get meaner and scarier; the ups and downs of life come hard and fast. We can’t protect them from everything, but we can share tips and techniques for coping when things get tough. By equipping them with tools to safeguard their mental health, they’ll be armed against what may be the toughest battle they’ll ever face: a potential war within their own minds.
Importance of Mentors
The gift of humanity is accompanied by a wide range of emotions. Highs and lows come and go; feelings are less of a fixed point and more of an ever-changing ebb-and-flow within our own emotional spectrum. If we find ourselves struggling with negative thoughts, seek mentors who can help us recognize mental roadblocks that are holding us back. With professional guidance, we can identify the obstacles in our minds, accept the things we cannot change, and harness the courage to change the things we can.
Is there a particular skill that is preventing us from making progress in one or more areas of life? Brilliant thought leaders have mastered certain subjects, spilling their genius onto the pages of books that we can use to turbo-charge our personal growth in any subject. By dedicating the time and effort to read and study, we can develop any skill we desire.
Model Good Habits
Mental health is part nature and part nurture. We cannot control the propensities that have been passed onto us by the genetic code of our ancestors. Although easier said than done, one of the best gifts we can give our children is to unpack our own mental struggles and make peace. If we need to, we can (and should) prioritize mental health by scheduling Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a mental health professional who can help us work through our inner conflicts. Demonstrate the importance of mental health, normalize that it’s perfectly acceptable to admit a problem and ask for help.
If we sense that something is bothering our children, close-ended questions such as, “Are you ok?” are essentially useless. Ask open-ended questions, such as, “What are you feeling right now?” Align side-by-side, help them better understand their emotions, identify their anxiety, and share whatever is bothering them. With bonds of love and trust, mothers can gain insight into whether struggles are temporal or if something more sinister is involved.
Proper Rest & Nutrition
Imagine the foolishness of trying to playfully engage an exhausted or starving toddler. Nutrition is crucially important. The importance of good sleep cannot be overstated. When mothers establish bedtime routines (including shutting down all devices well ahead of lights out), we prepare our family for a good night’s rest.
If children are acting grouchy, ask them if they are hungry. It’s likely that a few calories will help them feel better. Sometimes, people who are fighting battles in their mind are so upset that they have difficulty eating. If we neglect our nutrition due to emotional struggles, we fuel a vicious cycle, perpetuating physical degradation and a continuing mental health tailspin. It isn’t just our physical bodies that demand healthy caloric intake; without proper nutrition, our minds suffer as well.
Body Image & Self-Esteem
Marketing messages bombard us from every angle, depicting a “perfect body” at every turn. If our children like how they look, great. If not, remind them that our worth is not defined by our appearance. Periodic feelings of insecurity are natural, but a hyper-focus on body image can lead to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. As with the “observation-imitation” phenomenon that so consistently influences behavior, parents who model self-confidence tend to raise children who are also surer of themselves.
Regular exercise releases endorphins, making us feel good and reminding us that we are capable and resilient. Physical activities can be a great distraction to indirectly manage mental fatigue—painting, dancing, sports, and music are all superb outlets. We can also learn how to slow ourselves down, concentrate on our breathing, and transform our minds with meditation and prayer. Release all forms of judgment. Harbor zero ill will, liberating ourselves and the world around us from its toxicity. With uninterrupted, loving, hopeful reflection, we become more receptive to the healing energies of the universe.
Trustworthy friends and family can offer the listening ear of love and support, sharing the right words of encouragement at just the right time. Life can be hard; perspective, appreciation, and faith are three paths to wisdom that can uplift us from trials and tribulations. An eternal perspective can be a true blessing, reminding us to trust in God for peace as His Will be done. On a long enough timeline, remember that everything tends to work itself out. If we are able, forbid trivialities from living rent-free in the mind. Focus on the abundance of good. If good is absent, create it.
As we mentally traverse valleys and ascend mountains, it is human nature to encounter moments of disequilibrium. Without proper coping mechanisms, these moments can expand and engulf our entire mental universe, crippling us from within. With faith and resilience, we can persevere. As American poet Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.”
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. The Body Keeps Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Dr. Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom—a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.
It’s easy to lose our mind in the exhausting trap of anxiety and stress. Avoid getting stuck in a never-ending thought loop, stay present, and keep your mind off things that don’t matter, and never will.
It’s easy to blame ourselves. Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
With wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change. A boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our innate power to transform them.
Are your thoughts out of control? Do you long to break free from the spiral of destructive thinking? Let God’s truth become your battle plan to win the war in your mind!
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.