Editor’s Note

We’re pleased to introduce this guest post from Amy Williams. Amy is a mother of two and a former social worker. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like helping kids stay active.

At Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, we work with our young people and their families to help them take steps to live meaningful and fulfilling lives. Supporting and encouraging our boys and girls to do their best also means showing them the importance of mental health. Often school and work can take a toll on young people, and there are a variety of stress-relieving activities that families can do together to help them cope with the pressures of our modern world.

Here are five activities families can do together that can help manage stress for everyone:

1. Exercise

Exercising as a family is a great way to stay in shape and help manage stress. Even just 30 minutes of running or walking a day can make a big difference in both physical and mental health.  Exercising helps to release feel-good endorphins that make you feel better and energized.  According to a study by the American Psychology Association (APA), thirty-seven percent of teens say they exercise specifically for stress-relief. Try activities that the whole family can participate in such as going for a walk, hike, or bike ride.

2. Meditation

In our fast-paced world, even young people need to take some time to slow down and self-reflect. Praying or meditating as a family is a great way to take a breath and spend quality time together. Meditation can look different for each person, and many studies have shown its benefits for mental health and stress-relief, according to Mental Health America. Find a quiet corner or area in your home and design it specifically for meditation practice by not only keeping it clean and away from home clutter. Creating a family meditation space at home can be beneficial as it can keep that space reserved as a place for all family members to relax and clear their heads.

3. Gardening

Being outdoors, in general, helps to alleviate stress and anxiety, but participating in a family activity such as gardening can help even more. In a study conducted in the Netherlands, participants reported being in a better mood after gardening and showed lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Not only is gardening a fun family activity, it can bring about other healthy habits such as healthy eating if your family plans on growing their own fruits and vegetables. These steps towards a healthier lifestyle in both hobby and diet can lead to reductions in stress and anxiety for families.

4. Art

While physical activity has shown many positive results when it comes to stress-relief, taking on creative and mental activities as a family can also help with managing stress and anxiety. A family art project, even something as simple as a scrapbook or making a collage, is a great way to bring your family together and focus on making something creative and meaningful.

5. Reading

Reading is a great way to combat stress. According to a study by the University of Sussex, reading for only six minutes can reduce stress levels up to 68%!  Getting your child to enjoy reading might seem like a difficult task but reading with them can help encourage them to enjoy the activity. Consider starting a family book club and decide together what books you can read. Reading is a great individual activity, but can also turn into a meaningful family discussion.

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