Mental Health Awareness Month: Saturday, May 2nd, was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Austin. We know the importance of taking care of our physical health, but mental health also plays a major role in our overall well-being. It is the foundation for how all of us feel, think, and interact with others. Being mentally healthy means we have more skills and supports in place to manage stress and to cope with difficult situations.
Stress is what you feel when you are worried or uncomfortable about something. This worry in your mind can make your body feel bad. You may feel angry, frustrated, scared, or afraid — which can give you a stomachache or a headache, dry mouth, a fast-beating heart, stomach “butterflies,” sweating under the arms and of hands and feet, muscle tension, or that feeling of “I want to crawl out of my skin”
When you feel these things, know that your body is trying to tell you to use some of your coping skills you’ve learned this year. What is your favorite skill to help you reduce your feeling of stress?
1. Deep breathing is always a great idea! Mediation and time for stillness and reflection is another.
2. Engage in positive self-talk. How we talk to ourselves affects everything. Negative thoughts aren’t the truth, and YOU have the power to change them to something supportive. For example: Change “This is awful” to “Let me focus on the things that I can control and the things that are going well.” Change “I’m not good at this” to “I’m just learning how to do this.” etc
3. List your favorite things. That way, when you’re stressed out, you have a list ready to go. It’s hard to think when we’re stressed, which is why it’s important to make your list when you’re calm. Create a list for things you love to do at home, at school, outside, inside, by yourself and with others.
4. Get moving! Coach Harris has awesome activities for y’all to do in her Google classroom! You can also try jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, taking a walk, running in place, swimming if you have access to a pool, stretching, skipping, dancing, and taking a virtual class for a new activity like martial arts.
5. Create a feelings book. Healthy coping starts with being able to accurately identify our feelings. Try to jot down one feeling on each page of your book. (happy, frustrated, worried, sad, mad, scared, etc). Think of something that has made you feel that feeling and write about or draw what happened.
6. Track your stress. This helps you understand a little better what stressed you out and pinpoints any patterns to their stress. The key is to answer these questions on a piece of paper: “What stressed me out? What happened before? When did it happen? Where was I? What happened after?”
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