Contributed by Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions. Canopy offers an array of behavioral health, educational and social service solutions to children and families throughout Mississippi. For more information about solutions offered through Canopy, please visit mycanopy.org or call 800-388-6247.
New Year’s resolutions are a time for reflection and examining ways to improve ourselves. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the need to care for ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. As you look back over the past year, how well did you and your family care for yourselves? How well did you handle your stress? What are the things you wish you had done or handled differently? As you move into 2021, take this time to create a wellness resolution that will equip you to face uncertainty and trials that will inevitably come your way.
“Addressing regular self-care is an important part of maintaining wellness,” said Caleb Cauthen, LPC, lead outpatient therapist at Canopy Children’s Solutions’ Behavioral Health Clinic. “That doesn’t necessarily mean mini vacations — which aren’t feasible for everyone — but taking intentional steps to reduce stress, clear your mind and stopping long enough to listen to what your body is telling you it needs and fueling it appropriately.”
As a family, discuss the past year and things you wish you could change. Then, collectively discuss resolutions you can do as a family to make you a stronger, healthier unit. Some things to consider:
Eat healthier meals
Challenge everyone in your family to find healthy meals and snacks for a weekly menu. If you have older kids, encourage them to help with the meal they planned to teach them life skills.
Find a fun activity everyone in the family enjoys, or write down a variety on slips of paper and pull them from a bowl to mix it up from day-to-day. Set aside time — even 10 minutes a day — to exercise your body and create family bonding time.
Designate quiet time
Everyone needs some downtime. As part of your nightly routine, after you’ve brushed your teeth and dressed for bed, take a few minutes to do something just for you. As an example, Cauthen enjoys lighting a scented candle, putting on music and journaling, doing a brain teaser or meditating for about 30 minutes before bed.
Stay current on your checkups
Keep up your regular visits with your doctor and your child’s annual checkups. This is a great opportunity to check things like blood pressure and cholesterol, but also be sure to address fatigue and abnormally intense emotions if you notice them in yourself or your child. Have an open and honest conversation with your doctor if anything ever seems or feels “off.”
“It’s also really important that you maintain regular checkups for you and your child,” says Cauthen. “Aside from the physical development milestones, your pediatrician can also assess what is typically developing behavior for your child’s age. These assessments and open conversation can help lead to early diagnosis and intervention for things like autism, anxiety, ADHD and depression, so your pediatrician can make an appropriate referral for your child. If you have any concerns about how behavior impacts a child’s ability to thrive at home, in school and in the community, be sure to speak up, ask questions and keep advocating until your child gets the help he or she needs.”
It’s important that your child can feel safe talking to you honestly and openly, and it’s the best way to know what is really happening in your child’s life. Are they worried about school? Do they feel isolated and alone? Are they angry at a friend or heartbroken over a breakup? Regular, open conversation also helps you recognize changes in your child’s behavior that may be a sign he or she needs to speak with a licensed therapist or counselor.
While 2020 was not what any of us expected, it hopefully taught us all something about ourselves and the way we handle adversity. Our children are watching us to learn how to treat others, how to care for ourselves, how to handle stress and how to overcome challenges. Make 2021 the year to make wellness — physical, mental and emotional — and resilience a priority in your home.