Mental Health Checkup and Toolkit

These are great tips for the whole family from and Dr. Sara E. Williams, one of the authors of Magination Press book, Dream It! A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness. Dr. Williams provides a Mental Health Checkup & Toolkit to help your family learn an optimistic mental health strategy that will not only teach them how to manage their stress and stay physically healthy but also get them excited about the future.

Before learning about the toolkit, here’s some important information about the stress response.

How fear and stress cause illness
When the mind and body are in a state of fear and stress, our autonomic nervous system (the body’s “engine”) revs up and hits the gas pedal, giving us lots of extra energy to protect ourselves. This is also known as the fight or flight response. Then, when the danger has passed, our body slows down and hits the brakes, which allows us to recover and restore. This is known as the rest and digest response. This balance of “on” and “off’ works great until we hit a period of chronic stress, in which case our body stays in the fight or flight response for longer than usual. This becomes a drain on the body’s resources and doesn’t give us enough time in the rest and digest cycle to restore and rebuild. Instead of stress wearing us down, managing stress can help us be strong and healthy.

Here’s the Good News!
You can learn how to turn off the fight or flight response and put your body in the rest and digest cycle. You do this by changing your thoughts and actions in optimistic ways. These stressful times provide the perfect opportunity for your family to learn a few strategies to not only survive but thrive in the face of stress. As a parent, you are your children’s most important role model. Showing them how you handle stress will go a long way to help them manage their own stress.

Overall, the goal is to acknowledge that stress is part of life—stress can be big, small, and every size in between. The most powerful thing we can do is teach children how to handle stress in a healthy way both physically and emotionally. This lets them make a positive, intentional change in their lives. Learning skills like self-awareness and self-management can help your child learn to effectively identify and manage stress. Learning and practicing these skills leads children to develop physical and emotional resilience and acceptance that even when challenges occur in life, they have the ability to confront and manage those challenges.

Get a Checkup!
Now that you know a little about how stress works, let’s do a mental health checkup! A mental health checkup lets you see how stressed you may be feeling, The toolkit helps you learn social-emotional skills to “hit the brakes” to help turn off the stress response and boost immune system function. It will not only help you feel better but also help make a plan for the future.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The exercises in the mental health checkup can help you recognize and cope with emotions like worry, stress, or feeling upset. They can also help with situations that you feel you can’t do much about. Give these exercises a try — they might help you feel better!

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