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The hubby and I have a strong belief: knowledge is power. Give children knowledge, give them the space to think for themselves, and let them make cerebral connections independently whenever possible.
Because being able to think independently is a key part of life.
Recently, I went to a workshop on mental health and learned a great deal. I’m no expert so let me paraphrase a few things I learned about mental health. I learned mental health is a state of being, that we all need to focus on our mental health much like we do our physical health. I mean, we all try to eat a little better, exercise a little more, so why wouldn’t we do the same for our own mental well being?
That’s a gross oversimplification of the workshop but I was eager to talk to my big kid about it and get her take on the topic. Her insight and openness surprised me and inspired me.
What do you think “mental health” means?
I came home and did the usual family stuff and when there was a moment to chat I told her about the workshop. I then asked her, “What do you think ‘mental health’ means?”
Without skipping a beat, she replied, “That’s like having a healthy brain.”
I was floored, such a simple statement yet so true and so well summarized. It then lead us to a much longer conversation about this great video I watched during the workshop. It’s a fantastic video featuring Kelly McGonigal, a Psychologist who talks about stress. I learned that stress really isn’t the bad guy per se but HOW we think about stress that can ultimately lead to the demise of our health.
I talked to my child about stress and how it’s neither bad nor good. My child then pipes in, “Yeah…it’s an emotion like being sad. There’s nothing good or bad about it.” When we get ‘stressed’, our heart beats faster, our breathing quickens but there’s no reason for us to think of them as having a negative impact on our health. As I learned from that video, thinking that stress damages our health is actually what DAMAGES our health! It makes the blood vessels in our heart constrict and does so much more but only when we THINK it’s damaging. I told her about the power of our thinking, how it impacts the physiology of our heart, and the importance of oxytocin as a stress hormone that compels us to seek others in times of ‘stress’.
I was amazed at how quickly my child was able to grasp the message beneath all that talk. She chimed in throughout the conversation and really seemed to embrace this new mindset. If I can equip her with the skills to see those sudden faster heart beats and quickness of breath in a positive light, as the body’s way of energizing it for movement, imagine how different life will be for her in the future.
Gosh, I could ramble on and on but to really do this topic justice, I just really want you to watch the video.
Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend
Things to do: watch the video and make a positive change in your life. PLEASE!