World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme of 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression.
In this competitive age where artificial intelligence is challenging human IQ, performance pressure on children is growing. Rajeev Katyal, Country Director India at the Global Indian International Schools (GIIS) chain shares 10 simple ways to manage stress in early childhood.
1. Notice the difference – When a child is undergoing stress, it is clearly visible in his/her behavior. The child becomes cranky, doesn’t play too much, eats excessively; these are all signs of stress and anxiety. As soon as you notice a change in the regular behavior of a child, it is important that you talk it out. Open that door of communication for him so that he can vent out the unhealthy energy and work towards a solution to deal with it.
2. Instill creativity – When a child is constantly engaged in activities that he/she likes to do, for example – dancing, singing, performing arts and other such extra-curricular activities, they are away from negative energies. Stress arises when children are forced to do something that they don’t enjoy doing. So at schools, the lesson plans need to be engaging and creative enough for the child to be stress-free and happy.
3. Understand the needs – Generation gap is a term that we all are faced with while dealing with children. People from different age group have different perspectives and opinions and therefore it is very necessary to understand the needs of a growing child.
4. Sensitize children at an early age: Teenagers need to be sensitized about gender equality and therefore learn to respect the other gender so that they don’t take any woman in their life for granted. Toddlers need to be sensitized about gender bias to make them feel okay to express out loud and cry. A 5 year old child is a child, doesn’t matter if it is a girl or a boy.
5. Ensure enough sleep: Lack of sleep is one of the major reasons for increased stress in children as they are always pumped up with energy and forget to give rest to their body. Parents need to ensure that the child gets enough sleep for him to be healthy physically as well as mentally.
6. Cut down on too many extra-curricular activities: Given the current competitive world outside, kids are a part of various academic and non-academic activities and they try to excel at everything in a day. This harms their health, makes the sleeping patterns irregular leading to stress and tiredness throughout the day. Identify, their interests in early childhood and help them pursue that rather than overburden them with parent aspirations.
7. Practice Yoga: as defined earlier by WHO, health is not just physical, it’s also mental, and what better way to achieve a perfect balance in both than practice Yoga. Fitness is key in today’s fast paced life and if one is physically healthy, achieving mental fitness becomes easier.
8. Perfect is not perfect: Our constant endeavor to make the child perfect in every sphere of life, can drown them instead of them learning how to swim. Teachers/Parents should tell them it’s okay to not be okay.
9. Connect: Connecting and socializing with new and different people can sensitize children about the hardships one faces and what is the value of their own life. It also helps in sharing disturbing thoughts that can prevent further build up of negative feelings leading to drastic and life threatening measures.
10. Get Help: If the stress has already crossed the limit of being managed internally by parents, teachers or friends, the child needs to be taken to a counselor so that the situation does not aggravate and it doesn’t further harm the mental well-being of the child.
Depression: What you should know
Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following symptoms: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
If you think you, or someone you know, might be suffering from depression, read on.
What is depression?
- Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
- In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
- Something that can happen to anybody.
- Not a sign of weakness.
- Treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
What you can do if you think you are depressed
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
- Seek professional help. Your local health-care worker or doctor is a good place to start.
- Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
- Keep up with activities that you used to enjoy when you were well.
- Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk.
- Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits.
- Accept that you might have depression and adjust your expectations. You may not be able to accomplish as much as you do usually.
- Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression.
- If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately.
Remember: Depression can be treated. If you think you have depression, seek help.