12 June 2023

Self-care for parents

Parenting is hard. It’s a full-time job and many parents find themselves prioritizing their family’s well-being before their own. When we are able to meet our own mental and physical needs, it not only benefits our well-being, but our children’s as well. But how do you make it happen? We asked three mental health experts, who are also parents, how…, What have you learned about self-care as a parent?, If you haven't started yet, then now is always a good time to make space for self-care. Sonali Gupta Lisa: Very often, I think parents assume that taking time for themselves means that they are taking time away from their children. But this isn't true. When we care for ourselves, we are better able to care for our children. And caring for…, How do you personally practice self-care?, Sonali: The time I take out for myself is what I call my 'Pause Rituals' – a conscious pause in the day followed by rituals that are self-soothing at a physical, mental and social level. I came up with this term after I struggled with burnout about 10 years ago. The key is to focus on just one thing when engaging in these self-soothing practices…, How do you find time for self-care?, My thinking always feels clearer when I let my mind wander wherever it needs to go. Dr. Lisa Damour Hina: Time for self-care feels out of reach for me – it literally slips through my fingers as I run around parenting my two young children and completing the tasks of my day job. I always feel on duty. I prioritize self-care by baking it into my…, How has your family benefitted from your self-care?, If I do not prioritize my own mental health and well-being, I do not show up with my best foot forward as a parent. Dr. Hina Talib Lisa: When I'm well-rested and my mind is clear, I am much more patient with my children and a lot more fun to be around. After a good night's sleep, I have energy to play, host a "kitchen dance party," or come up with…
17 March 2022

How to support your child during conflict and crisis situations

When you find yourself facing the unthinkable, having the right words to say to your child can feel like an impossibility. We spoke to UNICEF’s child psychology and mental health expert Dr. Marcia Brophy to provide guidance for parents in an emergency situation.  , How can I protect and guide my child when I am feeling scared myself?, Feeling scared is a natural reaction to an abnormal situation – for both you and your child. Check in on your children in an age-appropriate way and give them space to openly and freely share their thoughts and feelings. Because children pick up on emotional cues, whether it’s through body language or facial expressions, trying to keep as calm as…, What are some ways to calm myself and my children?, Deep belly breathing is very helpful and is something you can do together with your older children. If you have a younger child, you could make it into a game: Every hour on the hour, see how you can calm your mind and body down by slowing down your breath. If you feel like you are losing your temper, try giving yourself a 10-second pause and, if…, We had to leave our home. How can I explain this to my child?, Try to share information in advance, in an age-appropriate way, as much as possible. This gives your children time to process their feelings, and children process things slower than adults do. If you have to evacuate, try laying things out in steps: “we’re going to put our things in our backpacks and we’re going to have to move to a safer space.”…, My family has been separated. What should I say to my child?, Let your child know that their loved one is doing everything they can to get back to them. You can be honest that you don’t have an answer right now, but that you are using every opportunity to speak to an organization or an agency to find out more, and you will share information with them as soon as you know. If possible, having a quick phone…, One of our loved ones has been killed. How should I tell my child?, If someone close to you and your family has died as a result of the crisis you are in, the most important thing is not to hide or delay the truth. It is natural to want to protect your child, but it is best to be honest. Telling your child what happened will also increase their trust in you and help them to better cope with the loss of their loved…, We have been hearing a lot of explosions. What can I do for my children while this is going on?, If possible, try to talk to your children in advance, in an age-appropriate manner, about the possibility of this happening and what you will do when it does. You could tell your child: “There are going to be some really loud noises that we’re going to hear, and when that happens, we’re going to move into a safe space, and we’re going to stay…, How do I explain the horrible violence being committed around us to my children?, For younger children, it is important to explain that unfortunately in the world, there are people who do bad things sometimes, and that’s what’s happening right now. Assure them that it has nothing to do with your family or you as individuals. Reassure them that there are many people around the world who are working hard to try to stop these bad…
04 February 2022

5 ways to better mental health online

Being online can present lots of great opportunities to connect, learn and share what’s important to you, but it comes with challenges too. If social media or the internet has ever made you feel stressed, envious or lonely, or experience feelings of lower self‑esteem or social anxiety, know that you’re not alone. Here are five tips on how to look…, 1. Avoid doomscrolling, Pay close attention to how social media and online content is influencing your emotions, thoughts or actions. How does it make you feel? Does reading the news make you feel informed or stressed? Does seeing photos of your friends at a party make you feel good or envious? Do you check your phone first thing in the morning to learn about breaking…, 2. Be mindful, There are loads of great online tools and content that can help support all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. From meditation apps to help you relax and focus, to platforms that help you develop your sense of identity and self, stay connected and support one another. There are lots of great online learning tools where you can try something…, 3. Protect yourself and others online, Check the privacy settings on all your social media profiles. Keep webcams covered when not in use. Be careful when signing up to apps and services online – especially providing your full name, address or photo. If you are concerned about something you have seen or experienced online, you should talk to a trusted adult like a parent or teacher,…, 4. Choose kindness, Use social media for good, by sharing positive and supportive content and messages with your friends, family and classmates. For example, you could reach out to let someone know you’re thinking of them or add a positive comment on a post they shared. If you find yourself responding to a message or post with something negative, pause and consider…, 5. Stay present and connected IRL, The lines between the online and offline worlds can feel increasingly blurred, making it hard to live in the present moment and satisfy our innate need for human contact. Do you ever find yourself interrupting what you are doing so you can post it on social media, or scrolling through your friend’s stories rather than calling or meeting up to see…