Mental health is a crucial aspect in each one of our lives and is something that constantly needs to be maintained. There are many aspects that play a role in shaping our mental health and one of these key factors happens to be the role of the family.
Whether it be for individuals or families as a whole, I believe its safe to say that this last year has been very challenging. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been forced to face unprecedented change when it comes to the way we live our daily lives.
Now more than ever before, it is essential for families to come together and strive to continually improve their mental health.
For this reason, I would like to point out these 3 tips that will help in the development of positive mental health within the family:
- Make Time to Communicate: As busy as life may be, it is critical for families to set aside time to talk with one another as there is a strong relationship between healthy family communication patterns and positive mental health outcomes. And when I say making time to communicate, I do not mean a quick, “How are you?” before rushing to work, but rather a dedicated time to sit down and have a healthy discussion on any worries, emotions, daily experiences, and more. This may difficult for some families as schedules may not align, however these discussion do not necessarily need to take place formally and can be completed while on a drive or eating dinner together.
- Create Family Goals: In the same way that individuals have goals that they work towards, it is also important for families to have goals that they work towards. When creating these goals, it is important that the whole family is involved and that the goals are realistic and fall under the S.M.A.R.T framework
(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely). Another often forgotten key while working towards a family goal is to make sure that there is a clear emphasis on enjoying the process and all the small steps instead of just worrying over the final results. Some examples of healthy family goals include saving up for a family vacation, starting a project to help the local community, or even starting a family exercise program.
- Shift Towards a Positive Mindset: The reality is that we all are going to pass through trials and tribulations of life, however the way to get through them and not allow it to affect our family’s mental health is to maintain and encourage positive thinking. Research shows that by having a positive mindset, people are better able to deal with stressors in an effective manner. As a family, it is important to slow down and just appreciate the bigger picture and be thankful for all the valuable things we often take for granted. There may be times where it is difficult to even be thankful for anything at all but it is in these times when you must rely on your positive mindset so that you are able to tell yourself a quote by Les Brown, “No matter how hard it is, or how hard it gets, I’m going to make it!“
Blog post by Simon Kahsay, Volunteer
50 Realistic Ways to Improve Your Mental Health. (n.d.). Family Institute. Retrieved March 13, 2021, from https://www.family-institute.org/sharing-our-expertise/50-ways-improvemental-health
Co, P. (n.d.). The Importance of Setting Family Goals – and How to Do It. Parent Co. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.parent.com/blogs/conversations/the-importance-ofsetting-family-goals-and-how-to-do-it
Elgar, F. J., Craig, W., & Trites, S. J. (2013). Family Dinners, Communication, and Mental Health in Canadian Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(4), 433–438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.07.012
Heidari, M., Mortezaee, H., Masomi, H., & Raji, A. R. (2016). The Relationship between Family Communication Patterns and Mental Health in Adolescents. International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies (IJHCS) ISSN 2356-5926, 0(0), 416–427.
Naseem, Z., & Khalid, R. (2010). Positive thinking and coping with stress and health outcomes: Literature review. Journal of Research & Reflections in Education, 42–61.