Last year was hard. And while we’re all hopeful that things will change on January 1, 2021, the return to normalcy won’t be as seamless as a day flipping on the calendar. As of this writing, health care workers are starting to get the first round of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines and we’re hopeful more manufacturers’ vaccines will be approved in the coming weeks.
While you’re still working at home, your kids are doing virtual school and your family is social-distancing and wearing masks, we have a light at the end of the dark tunnel. How can you use this month to de-stress and refocus your thoughts?
According to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America, an annual report researched and published by Mental Health American in Oct. 2020, youth mental health is declining. More than 9% of youth identified as having major depression. Mental illness and suicidal ideation are increasing among adults. Seeking help for your anxiety is crucial and can help teach your kids how to manage their own anxiety.
By reflecting stress and anxiety in certain situations, a parent can be teaching a child that this is the normal way to react to the unknown or tough times. As a parent, you learn coping mechanisms, through proper therapy, or even be honest with your child if he’s old enough to understand. Tell your child why you’re worried or anxious and show them how you can cope. The Child Mind Institute says that designing a plan for you and your family to address anxiety or stress is a good way to talk about the triggers and how to avoid and/or prevent similar scenarios going forward.
You can also practice self-care and mindfulness moving into the new year. Those strategies we talked about a lot in 2020, like reading, calling (not texting) a friend, taking a walk, putting away electronics, can help. Make a realistic resolution that you can keep around self-care, like exercise (that you enjoy) four days a week or daily, five-minute meditations. You can paint, do crossword puzzles, make your way through a cookbook.
If you need help, do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist or your primary care doctor for mental health recommendations.
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during the time. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. Visit 2021 State of Mental Health in America or Child Mind Institute for more resources.