Happiness for us and our children
As we move past 2020 into the new year with recent news of vaccines and new lockdowns there have no doubt been mixed feelings! I wanted to write a wee post considering Happiness and how we can remind ourselves what can contribute to our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, as well as our children’s of course. It’s not an easy time so these are just some observations and suggestions, at the end of the day everyone is different, and you will all have strategies yourselves, but here are little thoughts around what the research points to!
Express your heart. Connect. People who have one or more close friendships are happier. It doesn’t necessarily matter if we have a large network of relationships or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative, even just one or a few. So, fostering the relationships that we enjoy, even if it’s digitally, can make a huge difference to our Happiness.
Acts of Kindness
Cultivate kindness! People who volunteer or simply care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed. Although “caring” can involve volunteering as part of an organised group or club, it can also be something as simple as reaching out to a colleague or someone in your friendship group who looks lonely or is struggling with an issue. It can create a sense of community or closeness with others and model good behaviour for our little ones. Simply things like a touch on the shoulder (with those in our bubbles), sparkling eyes, a head dipped to the side showing you are actively listening or soft, caring tone to your voice helps the feeling of togetherness.
Exercise and Physical Wellbeing
We are always told to keep moving and eat well. Definitely easier said than done! But regular exercise has been associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression. The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) has produced a landmark analysis of 23 studies on exercise and depression. One of the major conclusions was that exercise had a “large clinical impact” on depression. It doesn’t have to be a full work out, especially since we are mostly at home, but a short walk or dance around the living room will have a great effect if done regularly! Dance it out!
Find your Flow
If we are deeply involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we experience a joyful state called “flow.” Many kinds of activities, such as sports, playing an instrument, teaching, or a shared learning experience, can produce the experience of flow. It can be hard to balance a hobby when working from home but putting aside even 10 minutes a day for yourself to do something you enjoy can allow you to get a bit more in tune with your ‘flow’.
All of these little habits can contribute positively to our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing as well as modelling these behaviours of looking after ourselves for our little ones. It’s easy to forget about yourself when so many people are having difficulties but remember to take care of yourself too!
Did you know…
That what is evident from neuroscience is that ‘normal’ brain development in early childhood is dependent upon environmental input and, for parents and carers, this means warm and loving, appropriate interaction with children who are living in a safe context, in which they are nourished and nurtured and allowed opportunities to explore.
So now that we are caring for ourselves… how can we care for our children?
Young children need to feel safe and secure; we can facilitate this in many ways:
considering the possible threats for each child and minimising these threats as far as possible.
ensuring that the child feels safe both physically and emotionally.
providing children with territorial space, for example, their own sleep mat, peg.
helping them feel that they belong by having routines and rituals, for example, welcome and departure songs and greetings.
We can also help support our children when they are dealing with difficult feelings by:
helping children to label and recognise their feelings.
helping children to learn strategies to calm down, for example, simple relaxation.
helping children to cope with their fears and anxieties.