5 Ways to Help Your Child Enjoy an Anxiety-Free New Year

The start of a new year is a strange time for most of us. The excitement of the winter holidays has died down, we’re all going back to school and work, vacations are over, and the weather is cold, dark and gloomy. Couple that with news of a new pandemic wave and school closures, and you have a perfect recipe for stress and anxiety. The lack of sunlight and Vitamin D does not help, neither does the thought that there are no major holidays to look forward to in the short-term. 

All of the things discussed above are real issues. There is even such a thing as Blue Monday, typically the third Monday of January, that’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. All in all, the first month of the year can be a hard time, for both adults and children. But while, as adults, we have some coping skills to fall back on, our children might have a harder time staying focused, happy, and engaged. That’s why we want to talk about five ways to help them kickstart the new year on a positive note, without stress, anxiety, or sadness. 

1. Have a positive mindset

This one is a tip for both children and adults, because you can’t help your child start the new year with a positive mindset if you are not feeling it yourself. Make it a habit to take time each day, or each week, whenever you can, to sit with your child and go through all the things that went well that week. Talk about what you’re grateful for and what you’re excited for next, and learn to appreciate the little things together. This way, you’ll help your child establish healthy habits and embrace gratefulness and mindfulness, which will tremendously improve their mental health and wellbeing throughout their entire lives. 

2. Get outside and get moving

We can’t stress this enough, but moving your body and getting outside is the best thing you can do for your body and mind. If there’s just one thing to take away from this list of tips, it’s this one. This is particularly crucial in this digital world we’re living in, where many of us work from home and many children are studying from home. It’s easy to get lazy and spend your entire day indoors, especially during winter, when temperatures go down and nights are long. However, try to make time after work or school hours to get outside with your child, get some fresh air, and some exercise. Go for a walk, a short hike, go play in the snow, try winter sports – whatever options are available to you. 

3. Steer clear of devices

Remote learning and remote work are the two biggest trends in the world right now, and we can’t be thankful enough for the miracle of technology. Digital devices and tools have been helping us continue working and learning, staying connected with loved ones, so there’s no diminishing their importance. However, spending the entire day on devices is unhealthy, especially for children. Sitting at the computer all day and with their eyes on blue screens can impact their physical health, but also their mental health, causing sensory overload and anxiety. 

Make it a goal for 2022 to set boundaries and separate school hours from ‘off’ hours as best you can. It can be tricky to create this delicate balance when forced to work or learn from home, but it can be done. Encourage your child to embrace activities outside technology in their free time, like reading, exercising, playing sports, and so on. Encourage them to find a new hobby and be present and in the moment when they’re offline. 

4. Stay in touch with friends and family 

While spending too much time on our devices can hurt us, sometimes they can also help us. As we continue to struggle with a global pandemic, we might find ourselves isolated and missing our loved ones. Travel restrictions, lockdowns, school closures, these things have had a real impact on our relationships, and we might be missing human interaction and socializing. This is particularly important for children, as they might miss their friends from school, their teachers, and their relatives. Make the best of technology to interact with loved ones via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or different messaging apps. Technology and devices can be harmful when overused, but the truth is that they can help our mental health during times of crisis. 

5. Set healthy goals for the new year 

We’re not necessarily fond of setting New Year Resolutions, because sometimes we can be setting ourselves up for failure and place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to accomplish certain goals. However, we do encourage setting healthy goals for the new year, and doing this can be helpful for our children, as well. Get together with your child and go over what they enjoyed last year, what they didn’t enjoy, and what they would like to do differently in the new year. 

You don’t need to set exceptional goals, but do write down a few things that can help you and your child have a more productive and enjoyable year. It can be anything, from picking up a new hobby, to being more positive, to exercising more, spending less time on social media, or getting better at math or improving reading fluency. Such goals can help your child start the year positively, and help reduce their stress and anxiety levels by having something achievable to work towards.

If your child is experiencing a difficult time and shows signs of sadness, anxiety, or depression, and these tips are not making a difference, it might be time to speak to a professional counselor or therapist. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Da Vinci Collaborative if your child is having a hard time during these dark winter months. 

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