What is it?
Emotional wellbeing, or mental health, is about how we feel and think and our ability to deal with the ups and downs of life.
If we have good emotional wellbeing we are able to:
- Feel good about ourselves
- Build and maintain good relationships with people
- Feel productive and contribute to society
- Cope with uncertainty
- Manage daily stresses
- Achieve tasks easily
Our emotional wellbeing can fluctuate and change depending on our life circumstances. It’s normal to feel unhappy or angry if something bad happens, to feel happy and excited when something good happens, or to feel anxious if something is worrying us. Usually these times are short lived and we get back to feeling ourselves again. If we feel down, worried or anxious for a longer period of time, we should start to look at what could be causing these feelings to last longer and think about how we can improve our wellbeing.
It is important to look after your own mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as your child’s. If you are feeling emotionally strong, you will feel more able to support your child with their mental health and any issues they are struggling with.
What can I do to improve emotional wellbeing?
There are lots of things that can help improve emotional wellbeing – both for yourself and for your child.
Physical health and emotional wellbeing are always linked to each other; both have an impact on each other. When we exercise it releases ‘feel good’ chemicals called ‘endorphins’ in our brain and it can even protect us from stress. Being active can help us to concentrate and to sleep better and to generally have a more positive outlook on life.
Being active doesn’t have to mean going to the gym 3 times a week. Anything that gets us moving and our hearts beating a little quicker is good for health – even doing things like taking the dog for a walk, walking to school, or mowing the lawn will all have great benefit. Getting out in the fresh air will certainly help too!
Evidence suggests that even small improvements in wellbeing can help to reduce some mental health problems and can also help people to cope better with their day-to-day stress.
Eating healthily has a positive impact on both your physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet at regular meal-times and ensuring that you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as drinking lots of water will help you to feel more healthy and happy. Stopping or reducing your alcohol intake, and avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs, can also help to improve your general wellbeing. Encourage your child to eat a well-balanced diet and have a healthier lifestyle.
If you have trouble sleeping, this can have an impact on your mental wellbeing. Some things that can help improve sleep are keeping the room cool and dark and trying to keep the same night-time routine. Try to relaxing before going to bed by reading a book or listening to music. Try and avoid the use of electronic devices and do some relaxation exercises instead. Suggest some of these things to your child to try and help them to improve their sleep quality and bedtime habits.
It is important that talking about feelings is encouraged. Not only should you encourage and support your child to discuss their feelings with either you or someone else they trust, but you should also discuss your feelings – with your child, or likewise with someone you trust, such as a friend or a GP.
Too much time can be spent thinking about the things we haven’t achieved in a day instead of acknowledging times when we have done something nice or achieved a small goal. Remember to praise yourself and your child for the positive things you do each day, such as going for a walk, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, or taking time out to do something nice.
There’s a page on the website for younger people about various ‘Coping Strategies’, which they may find helpful to read; you may find this page helpful too for yourself or for ideas to suggest to your child. You’ll find the link to the information is at the bottom of this page.
We all have times when our emotional wellbeing might be low, such as after a significant life event. It’s important to recognise the difference between our ‘common, every-day emotions’ and feelings that might need extra support. If your child’s emotional wellbeing is low for more than a few weeks and begins to have an impact on their ability to manage day-to-day life, then talking to your GP is a good first step in getting some additional support for them and for you.
There are a range of websites where help is available if you need to talk to someone about your own mental health or your child’s; you’ll find the links below. You may also find the below document – produced by The Children’s Society – helpful about supporting your child’s wellbeing: