Mental Health & Wellness Hacks for Families
A focus on health and healthy living in Canadian culture means families and individuals want to be physically, mentally and spiritually well. This means taking care of our bodies, minds and spirituality. However, many daily challenges can make taking care of ourselves difficult – competing demands for time, competing messages from many sources and busy lifestyles.
Here are some ways to help self-care happen for everyone.
- Eat meals as a family
Staying connected and being aware of what’s going on with your family can help to create and maintain a positive outlook on life. When schedules allow, sit down together to eat a meal and have a conversation.
- Limit screen time
For everybody! Too much time spent in front of a TV, computer or phone can have a negative effect on several health aspects, including vision problems for some, as well as the effects of a “sitting” lifestyle, such as lack of exercise and issues with weight. Screen time can also interfere with family time and prevent people from talking and relating to each other.
- Eat well
Having healthy and nutritious foods on hand for between meal snacks or for packing lunches helps not only physical health, but mental and spiritual health as well. If budget is a concern, watch for sales and find out about local food banks and breakfast or lunch programs at schools and community centres in your area.
- Plan a family game or activity night
Finding fun things to do together can help to keep relationships positive. You can often find simple board and activity games at yard sales, or you can do something outside together such as going for a walk, biking or shooting hoops or pucks.
- Ask your family questions
Learning more about your family can be fun and interesting – asking your family questions is a great way to pass time in the car, at the table or just when you are hanging out. Questions like “What five words do you think best describe you?” and “What do you know how to do that you could teach someone else?” will help you get to know each other more, and give each member of your family time to share something of themselves.
- Know your family triggers!
In every family there are certain topics or situations that can set off tempers, start no-win discussions and turn potentially positive family time into less positive, or even negative or stressful, time. If you can figure out what topics and situations to avoid and steer clear of, you may be able help things stay on track.
- Practise gratitude with your family
Showing gratitude can be as simple as saying thank you to each other when doing chores or passing the milk. It can be reminding yourself and your family of the things you can be grateful for (for example, being together and caring about each other). It can also mean setting an example by thanking others and trying to think positively.
- Volunteer together
Getting together to help others is a great way to build self-esteem and positive outlooks. If your family can help the community in some way – through a group clean-up of the neighbourhood or by participating in a charitable event, for example – it can really bring your family together.
- Try to make time to spend together
Whether in groups or one-on-one, making time to spend with family members can make them feel special and cared about. For younger kids, this could be reading a book together or playing a game. For older kids, it could be going for a walk or having a special talk and sharing time. For teens, it often just means going to their events. Pre-teens and teens may spend more time with their friends, but they still want their parents’, grandparents’ and extended families’ recognition and attention – even if from a distance!
- Say goodnight, see you later or goodbye
Due to shift work, working several part-time jobs and working away from home, not all families are together at bedtime or when kids are setting off to school for the day. Letting your kids know that you’re thinking of them can help to ease loneliness they may feel from time to time. This could be a phone call, a text, a note left on a pillow or just reminding them from time to time that you think about them.