Our students at Voyager School have, for whatever reason, chosen to learn at home. It’s a valid choice for many students, but it comes with its pitfalls – namely, physical isolation from their classmates. Experts agree that it’s important to engage in some core self-care strategies, both physical and mental, so that students learning from home get the most from their schooling experience, even though they don’t attend a physical school. Here are a few strategies that may be helpful:
Practice mindfulness: This can involve paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, without judgment. This can help you become more aware of your emotions and allow you to respond to them in a healthy way. There are heaps of free apps out there and free meditation music to listen to, even if it’s 5 minutes of calm before bed.
Exercise regularly: Physical activity has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing stress and improving mood. For teens, this can be something as simple as walking the dog or playing basketball in the local park.
Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is important for both physical and mental health. Try to establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Teens need at least 9-10 hours of sleep per night!
Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet can provide the nutrients your body and brain need to function optimally. That means lots of fruit and veges, even if they are in liquid form, in your child’s favourite smoothie.
Connect with others: Social support is important for mental well-being. Make time to connect with friends and loved ones, whether in person or virtually. I know parents don’t usually encourage a lot of this, but if your child is into gaming, then the friends they make in an age-appropriate forum, are just as real to them as friends in the physical world. Don’t discourage your child from online gaming – just make sure it’s in a safe environment and well-regulated so schoolwork doesn’t suffer.
Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks from work and other responsibilities to recharge and destress. Experts recommend taking a 10-20 minute break for every hour of studying.
Seek professional help: If you are struggling with your mental health and are finding it difficult to manage on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can provide support and guidance to help you improve your mental well-being. In Australia, ‘Kids Helpline’ is an excellent service.