The family is a place of comfort and refuge for individuals. It is often the place for relaxation and unwinding after the day’s activities. The challenges of life and everyday living can sometimes take a toll on the mental health of the members of the family. Mental health is described as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. In this positive sense mental health is the foundation for well-being and effective functioning for an individual, family, and for a community. Some activities can help promote the mental health of families and ensure they stay mentally healthy.
Physical contact and touch:
Physical contact is an important way to improve our family’s mental health. It increases the amounts of oxytocin and dopamine in our brains which both have a favorable impact on mental health. Oxytocin, known as the feel-good hormone, strengthens the bond that binds people to one another. It enhances relaxation, trust, and promotes psychological stability. Dopamine regulates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. These two hormones help keep our biological rhythms functioning properly.
Holding includes hugging and touching our family members. It communicated acceptance, and a feeling of belonging, improves self-worth and appreciation of members of the family.
Love is an emotion, and is also an action. It is important to engage in actions that show family members they are loved. These actions range from verbally telling the members of the family they are loved, to words of affirmation, appreciation, comfort and giving gifts. Children who grow up in families where they know they are loved and valued tend to have a healthy self –esteem, suffer less from acceptance issues and have better adjustment to external stress.
Sleep is an important activity in the family. It helps to rest the body and the brain from all the day’s work and also helps the brain to store memory. Adequate sleep recharges the body and its biological processes to face a new day. Lack of sleep can cause mental deterioration, including hallucinations. Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. These disruptions may include sleeping too much, too little, or being weighed down by excessive daytime sleepiness. It is important to ensure the family gets a healthy amount of sleep by setting bedtimes and making sure it is adhered to. Avoid activities that lead to constant late nights for the family.
Spend time outside the home enviroment
It is important to create time for activities that enhance bonding and togetherness. An example is outdoor activities like sports, picnics, and barbecues. Physical activities are essential for cardiovascular well-being and also for weight control. It also boosts a feeling of accomplishment and improves mental wellness. Time outdoors also engages the senses of touch, sight, and smell. It is important to find time for these activities as a family.
It is also important for families to have a lot of activities and games that encourage the members to be creative. Activities like unstructured exercises, games, quizzes encourage the use of imaginative skills, sharpen the memory and ultimately increase cerebral blood flow. These train the individuals to use their creative abilities, fosters a feeling of togetherness, and accomplishment. This promotes the mental health of the members.
Food is essential for health. Healthy eating reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and lipid disorders. It is important to eat healthy as a family and avoid certain unhealthy food. Eating together fosters unity and an individual is more likely to eat healthy if it is done together as part of a family, than eating alone. The process of eating and digestion slows the body down, reduces the sympathetic system stress hormones which is involved in’ fight or flight’, and switches to the parasympathetic system which is associated with digestion, and less stress hormones. Thus apart from the obvious nutritional benefits of healthy food, eating together also creates more mentally healthy individuals.
Create supportive environment
A family is said to be functional if there is a supportive environment where the members can be sure to count on their support when they want to make a major decision, or when they make mistakes. They should also be able to count on the family to comfort them when they feel sad or down. Such a family is said to be functional. Research shows that individuals from a functional family adapt better to stress, are less likely to use drugs of abuse, or engage in destructive behaviors, and are generally less likely to have mental disorders
In summary, family mental health is important, families that have mentally healthy individuals make for a mentally healthy society.