Spring Into Action – How to Support Positive Mental Health

positive mental health

With the rising cost of living affecting everyone’s wellbeing, and illness being at an all-time high, it is a relief that spring is on the way. Spring is the season of new growth, as we awaken from our hibernation and look forward to the warm and sunny days ahead. It is also the perfect time to think about where you are now and where you want to be as a family.

Positive mental health is critical to everything we do, so how can we take advantage of spring to make small changes to benefit our family’s mental health now? What changes should we make and how can we sustain them?

There are several things you can do which will not only help improve the physical health of you and your children, but will have a positive effect on mental health.

1. Get Moving

We all know exercise and active movement is good for us, it improves our:

  • Overall health
  • Ability to control weight gain
  • Mood
  • Energy levels

Children should be actively moving for at least 60 minutes a day, and as adults we should be doing 30 minutes at least. That seems overwhelming to add on top of already busy lives. However, an active movement doesn’t have to be a 60-minute adventure with your child trudging around the block behind you. Active movement could include:

  • Gardening
  • Mowing the lawns
  • Playing with your pet
  • Dancing
  • Taking up a group sport

The best way to get moving is to start today. Making small achievable changes is going to be much easier to maintain long term, than jumping in and beginning a full-on exercise pursuit. Walk to the shops next time you are out of milk, or get your child to help you hang the laundry or vacuum the house. Building movement into your everyday life will not only help you to get stuff done, but by including your children in the activities, you will form closer relationships and find time to spend with them that you didn’t realise you had.

2. Eat simple wholesome foods

Spring is the perfect time to review what you are putting in your mouth. Now that the cold days of winter are over,  there’s  a whole host of beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables available at your local  farmer’s markets and supermarkets.

But determining what is a healthy diet can be confusing. There is an overwhelming amount of nutrition information available to us now, and a lot of it is conflicting.

The key to supporting positive mental health through food is keeping it simple. There is a lot to be said for going back to basics and cooking like our grandparents did, before processed food was widely available and affordable. You don’t need to overhaul your entire diet overnight to gain the benefits of eating better. Some simple tricks are:

  • Eat breakfast everyday
  • Plan for snacking and keep some healthy choices available
  • Pay attention to your hunger – it is normal and healthy to be hungry before you eat
  • Look at your portion sizes – we don’t need to eat huge meals – we know we will get another meal in a short time
  • Eat your meal slowly
  • Fill your meals and snacks with a variety of whole foods and foods that don’t come out of a packet
  • Eat with your children – they need to see you making healthier choices and enjoying it too

3. Small changes at a time make it easier to sustain

When you decide to change your lifestyle, it can feel like you need to change everything at once to achieve success. This simply isn’t the case.  Instead making small, achievable changes regularly, will support positive mental health far more than making a drastic change that is hard to maintain.

Remember, you are trying to change your patterns and form a habit. Like anything, the more you practice the better you will get, so plan your lifestyle changes to have lots of opportunities for practice. Think about when you were teaching your children to brush their teeth. You didn’t brush their teeth once a week and assume they would get good at it, you brushed them twice a day, every day for a significant period, until brushing their teeth was a normal part of what they did.

Lifestyle changes work the same.

Instead of pumping out a 60-minute walk on a Saturday, start slowly and practice going for a 15 minute walk every day, with a longer one on the weekend. It is more achievable time wise and will benefit your body much more in the long run. Once the habit is formed, you can slowly increase your active time until you have reached the goal you set for yourself and your family.

Think about what might motivate you to keep going, even when you are tired or had a tough day. Sometimes it can be as easy as:

  • Talking about the changes you want to make with your family and getting them on board
  • Telling people around you what you are doing
  • Keeping a diary of your thoughts, feelings and gratitudes, and reading back on past entries
  • Celebrating the successes you have already achieved

There are many things you can do  to support your family on their journey to better physical health and positive mental health.

Need Help with Better Physical and Mental Health?

At Childhood Obesity Prevention, we understand that sometimes you and your children may need extra support to put it all into action. If you have concerns about the choices you are making as a family, and their impact on your health, we are here to help. We have a range of support options available to suit your family, from self-guiding your journey to healthier eating habits with our book Ride to Life, through to personal consultations.