Many conditions of the pandemic are creating a poor environment for good mental health in our children and teens. Here are 5 things that you can do now to reverse those effects and get your children back on the path to health.

COLUMBUS, OH, September 10, 2020 /Neptune100/ — Well … it’s true. This pandemic isn’t any fun. While social distancing measures may be considered necessary for the time being, this strategy- like many medications- has unintended and even dangerous side effects. This is especially true for our children and teens!

Some parents are hesitant to seek health care for non-pandemic-related illnesses, including mental health issues, that are otherwise preventable. Other parents are noticing that social isolation is increasing in their children. Family members have been confined in close quarters and there may be increased conflict between family members. Some may be worrying about how to pay for housing or where their next meal is coming from. The list of difficulties during this time could go on and on for many of our families.

Many challenges that we are experiencing may be leading to lack of structure in our kids’ days, which could be leading to increased screen time and less physical activity. These, in turn, can create trouble concentrating, anxiety and depression.

So – what can we do?

First, give your kids healthy nutrition. This should form a solid foundation for coping in a more positive way from the effects of a healthy body and clear thought process. Think about eliminating the soda, junk food, overly processed foods and serving plenty of fresh, immune-building produce and high-quality proteins.

Practice mindfulness techniques and teach them to your kids. Mindfulness has been demonstrated to improve your immune system, increase your ability to concentrate, improve self-esteem and self-efficacy, it helps make you more resilient, and helps control anger and hyperactivity.

Create and maintain a structured routine, whether your kids are inside a classroom or at home learning. Get up and moving at an early time and go to bed at a reasonable time in the evenings. Make sure to keep up personal hygiene – shower, brush your teeth, floss, get dressed, etc. Eat meals at regular times. Make sure your day has some time for R&R built in. And of course, save some time for doing things with your kids that are enjoyable!

Limit your child’s screen time. Sometimes kids don’t know when to stop. Make sure that you and your kids know how to use social media responsibly and enforce your rules!

Help others! As conditions permit, participate in volunteer work or perform acts of kindness to others. This practice has been documented scientifically to support your mental health.

Visit Health and Wellness Online to learn more ways to encourage mental health in your children and teens.

As always, have a happy, holistically healthy day!

Dr. Donna Poppendieck, the creator of Health and Wellness Online has worked in the mental health field for over 18 years, beginning as a counselor and prevention specialist for middle school aged children. She now instructs students in a university setting as well as medical and mental health providers across the country. Health and Wellness Online allows parents and caregivers of children and teens with mental health and development challenges to have much needed resources to aid their children.