May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Managing a teen’s mental health crisis can be challenging for families. It’s often unfamiliar territory that needs to be navigated with the utmost sensitivity. And it can take a toll on parents. Just as those who care for older adults need to practice self-care, so do parents who are helping a child cope with anxiety and depression.
Research shows that caretakers often neglect their own well-being to help others, and this isn’t healthy for anyone. To offer support to your child, you have to take care of yourself. Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to increase happiness and reduce stress. It also enhances self-confidence, increases productivity, and reduces heart disease, stroke, and cancer. When we take care of ourselves, everyone in the family benefits.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness
The eight dimensions of wellness to optimize your health, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), are: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. When thinking about self-care, think about these dimensions in your life and how you can improve them.
Here are some tips and activities for each dimension to better support yourself and those around you.
Emotional: If you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to say no to stay grounded and not take on too much.
Spiritual: Make sure you’re caring for your mind, body, and spirit. Holistic activities, such as yoga and meditation, can connect you with something bigger than yourself, which can result in peace, awe, contentment, gratitude, and acceptance.
Intellectual: Read a book, listen to a podcast, or watch a documentary. Being intentional about giving your brain new things to contemplate can help you feel accomplished and sharp.
Physical: Move more! Walk, hike, or run to feel healthier and stronger. Eat a balanced diet by incorporating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. If you’re doing takeout too often, try cooking at home. It can be therapeutic and give you control over what you’re consuming. And don’t forget to prioritize sleep, which has a huge impact on how you feel mentally and physically.
Environmental: Research shows that spending time outdoors can help reduce fatigue and manage symptoms of depression and burnout. Nature is one of our greatest healers.
Financial: Reflect on your relationship with money. Do you have financial anxiety? If so, it’s time to reframe negative thinking patterns by journaling, talking things out with your partner, friends, or a trusted financial planner.
Occupational: Think about where you are in your career and life. Are you involved in a career or volunteer work that fits your values? If something isn’t working at your job, let people know what would help.
Social: Set aside time to spend with friends and loved ones. It’s so important to have healthy relationships with family, friends, and the community, and take an interest in the needs of others and humankind.
Creating a Healthier, Balanced Life
Every dimension of wellness can affect a person’s life. Working toward all of them in one way or another is a great goal toward self-care. Creating balance is an important part of wellness. Balance means making sure we have time to do the things that make us feel happy and fulfilled. And when we feel good, we can better support our teens, especially when they need us most.