A disruption of “normalcy” can be difficult for anyone, especially kids. And this year has been extra unpredictable with canceled or modified versions of school, sports and activities.

At TRIA, we talk a lot about physical health. But we know it’s just as important to support mental health for our young people during a difficult time.

As a primary care sports medicine physician and pediatrician, Dr. Heather Bergeson see lots of families who are doing their best to stay mentally healthy during this unpredictable and stressful year. Here are some of Dr. Bergeson’s recommendations for supporting our children’s mental health this season.

Supporting mental health for young people

Create a routine

As much as possible, try to keep a routine of consistent sleep and wake times, even if your kids’ school or sports schedule looks different than usual. 

Stay active together

Exercise is important, especially during stressful times. During this pandemic, we need to be creative about how we keep moving despite some sports or activities being canceled. As much as possible, get outside for walks or playing in the yard. And when you can’t get outside, help your kids utilize the many online resources to keep you and your family moving indoors, too.

If you’re not sure where to start, try looking at community education programs for online content, or try a new virtual class that you and your kids may not have tried before. This could be the perfect time to dabble in Taekwondo, dance class or another new fitness class from home as a family. 

Create connection with family

Find moments when you can come together and check in. In Dr. Bergeson’s family, they share family dinners where they talk about “good, bad and funny” moments from each person’s day. Taking time to really listen to kids can help them feel more grounded during this otherwise difficult time.

Create connection with friends

Even though our kids might not be seeing their friends as regularly right now, it’s important to help them stay connected. Sometimes this might mean a video or phone call to help them see each other and catch up.

Find moments of meditation

Slowing down and pausing to reflect can help things feel less chaotic – even for kids. Apps like Headspace or Calm have great kids content to get you and your family started.

Find a change of scenery

Try a new park, or maybe a road trip to see some new places. This can help to create excitement and form new memories and highlights this season.

What are some ways you and your family are staying physically and mentally healthy this year?

About Heather Bergeson, MD

As a sports medicine physician, I enjoy caring for musculoskeletal issues in patients of all ages. As an experienced pediatrician in our community, I have a special interest in the young athlete and strive to promote health and physical fitness at an early age. I believe in health at every size and my goal is to keep my patients active and healthy throughout their lives. Clinical interests include osteochondritis dissecans, spondylolysis, growth plate fractures, overuse injuries, and female athletes.