Expert contributor Giselle Baumet discusses practices you can undertake in your family’s daily life to promote and elevate mental wellness.
The time in-between therapy or wellness sessions is when the work to balance or increase you and your child’s mental health happens.
While so much good can come from a session with a mental health professional, it’s truly what we do in our daily lives that makes the difference. In this article, you will learn more about what this means, and how to apply it to your child’s life, as well as your own.
What does that mean?
While many can (and do) seek therapy or other mental health treatments, those sessions with professionals commonly take place once a week.
The space and time in-between sessions are when you are putting into practice the tools you have learned through therapy or other wellness routines.
The work of our mental health wellness happens in our daily lives, and in this article, you will receive tools to apply in your child’s life (and in yours) that will help elevate mental health wellness.
So what happens in between?
The in-between is where the practices and work happen to intentionally and lovingly care for the mental health of our children.
The techniques learned at mental health wellness visits are practiced during that time. Even more so, it’s the time when holistic care can be carefully implemented into a family’s daily lives.
As a parent, caring for the mental health of our children is one we do best through example, so many of the suggestions for holistic mental health in this article can and should be applied to yourself.
When discussing mental health, please keep in mind that this is for everyone. There is a need to maintain mental health wellness, regardless of whether we are challenged with mental illness.
A strong mind, body, and spirit are a solid foundation for mental health, and essential to all humans, especially children.
In this article, you will learn evidence-based holistic practices that you can do at home for yourself and your child to boost the entire family’s mental health.
When doing holistic care for mental health wellness with your child, I often recommend that you do these alongside your child. As parents, our children look to us for mentorship and guidance, so your involvement and practice will result in your child being more receptive and open to having these experiences with you.
3 Powerful Holistic Care Practices for Children’s Mental Health
1. Guided Imagery Meditation
The therapeutic form of guided imagery has been used for centuries. It’s a practice that has been shown to reduce stress, improve positivity, and create a sense of relaxation.
Guided imagery meditation is a form of meditation that focuses on scenery or a specific scenario that is pleasant to your child. It does not need to be an actual place you or your child has visited. Feel free to use your imagination to create guided imagery meditation.
For some, the imagery may be the ocean, a visit to a nature park, skipping rocks at the lake, visiting the galaxies, or a completely made-up scenario that appeals to your child.
How to do a Guided Imagery Meditation
Lay down comfortably with your child as you both begin to bring focus to your breathing, therefore beginning to regulate your breathing. You’ll both want to close your eyes and start your relaxation during this time.
It might be helpful to have soothing music in the background, which you can play from your smartphone or your home music device.
Once you sense that your child is ready, you will vocally, using a soothing, calming voice, begin to create imagery for your child to picture themselves in.
Your child will use their mind’s eye to visualize the imagery based on your words describing it. And because children are wonderfully imaginative, they will no doubt add their own creative details.
Continue with your guided imagery for 5-10 minutes, and conclude it with positive affirmations for your children.
After the guided imagery meditation, you can ask your child how they found the experience and ask them what their affirmation for the day will be. This can be one that they create themselves, or they may repeat back to you the same positive affirmation you provided during the meditation.
Affirmations are a great way to teach your child that through mindset, they are able to create feelings and experiences that they desire to have.
Some examples of affirmations are:
- I am happy and joyful.
- I have everything I need.
- I am intelligent and do my best in everything I do.
- I am kind and friendly to myself and others.
- I will do amazing in my science test today.
- Everything goes really well for me.
- I am the luckiest kid in the world.
- I am going to have so much fun at school today.
Yoga is a practice that brings balance, calmness and the therapeutic benefits of movement to our mental health.
When practicing yoga, it’s helpful to have a yoga mat. However, a rug or blanket on the ground can also keep you and your child comfortable.
There are many different yoga poses one can do, and here are four poses that can be done for both beginners and experienced yogis.
Your child will enjoy these much more when you do the poses with them, so take a few minutes in the morning or afternoon after school to reset with yoga for good mental health and balance.
Mountain Pose: Stand with your arms at your sides with your palms faced outward in a gesture of openness. Take deep, comfortable breaths through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. Maintain this pose for 5-6 breaths.
Warrior Pose: Step one foot back, slightly angling it outwards, bend your front knee, bring your arms straight up towards the sky, and look up. Maintain this pose for 5-6 breaths and then switch sides.
Cobra Pose: Lie on your tummy, lift your head and shoulders off the ground, place palms flat next to your shoulders, and raise your chest. Maintain this pose for 5-6 breaths.
Children’s Pose: From the Cobra Pose, sit up on your knees, keeping them shoulder-width apart, and bring your big toes together. Then bend forward with your arms extended in front of you on the mat, with your palms touching the mat. Next, lay your head between your arms with your forehead touching the mat. Maintain this pose for 5-6 breaths.
Once you’ve completed this flow of yoga poses, take a few moments together to breathe comfortably, as you move on to the next part of your day.
3. Nature Play for Mental Health
The healing aspects of nature are endless, as I discussed in a recent blog post. It is our first medicine and a form of ancestral healing.
Utilizing nature as part of our mental health practice is not just enjoyable but also connects us to our grounding through being in and around the gifts of Mother Earth.
Wherever you live, you can connect with nature. Some ideas for nature play include:
- visiting a nature preserve in your area
- swimming in lakes, rivers, or ocean
- preparing a picnic and spending time on the grass
- looking up at the clouds and finding formations
- counting night stars
- taking a night walk during a full moon
- skipping rocks at the lake
- foraging for local herbs
Aim to be in nature once a day, but at least 3-4 times a week with your child if daily is not possible.
Takeaways from the Holistic Practices for Children’s Mental Health
These simple, but powerful practices, are shown to increase our mental health, help with relaxation and stress reduction, and increase our mindfulness.
I encourage you to begin one or more of these this week. You might find that you’ll change them slightly to best meet your child’s needs, and in doing so, you’ll be learning more and more about what your family needs most to prioritize and promote mental health.
Giselle Baumet is an herbalist, aromatherapist, hypnotherapist, mental health educator, and more. She is also a Piper + Enza expert contributor. Learn more about her work at granolababies.com.