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How Sports and Physical Health can Enrich Young Minds? (All About Mental Health)

Young Tara is an average student studying in 9th Std. Life was simple for the teenager who loved going to school and making friends. Life took a turn when she stepped in the 10th Std wherein she felt the pressure from peers urging her to bring higher grades.

Time started to fall short as she juggled between school and tuitions. Her parents reduced all her extra activities bounding her to her study room. Tara is struggling to fulfil her parents' wishes, all by herself in a lonely room with heaps of books.

As the boards were drawing closer, she is all restless and nervous. The little teenager is all broken and depressed; no one by her side. Next morning, Tara is hanging from the ceiling. All numb and cold.

This is the face of India which has the highest suicide rates among the aged 15-29 years, academic stress being the major reason. It is heartbreaking to see the newspapers filled with suicide stories coming from various parts of the country.

One of the reasons for these suicides is mental health illness. Many parents would deny saying ‘We never leave our child alone. How can he/she have mental health issues?’. But the truth is that we need to let free our children and engage them in physical activities to make them strong mentally and emotionally.

Handle Mental Health with Sports and Physical Health

Make your child physically and mentally strong to face the future, help them to build their own perspective, let them explore the outer world so that they become efficient to prepare their paths.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that 15 minutes of running can reduce the risk of depression by 26%.

A 15-minute walk can boost your energy level.

Physical activity has a positive impact on the minds of children. It can be dance classes, karate, swimming or even his/her daily outdoor play. Also, hiking, yoga or other recreational activities are beneficial for the child too.

Involvement in Sports and physical activity improves:

It prevents:

  • weight gain
  • depression
  • deadly diseases like cancer

According to the World Health Organisation, India is considered to be the most depressed country in the world after China and U.S.A. These three countries are mostly affected by anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

With sports and physical activities, you can combat mental health illness. Good mental health gives children the resilience to cope up with all the problems life throws at them.

Benefits of Sports

Playing sports is a powerful tool that helps to develop positive values, physical skills, social values, improve self-esteem and most importantly makes you feel healthier inside out.

It contributes to physical development and posture while the strategies and tactics used in sports make you ready to face the different aspects of life.

Sports indulge positive character traits and are a standalone treatment to drive mental health. Let's know how!

  1. Teaches moral values through fair play

    Children who love playing sports tend to have a different personality and become role models for their community. They inspire many others to play or participate in physical activity.

  2. Makes them socialise

    Sports help in bringing like-minded people together who later become friends. They make you socially viable in society as you meet new people to inspire and get inspired.

    The main reason for mental illness is loneliness. Children should be motivated to speak and make friends.

  3. Unites people

    When you are playing at different levels you meet people from different caste, culture, religion, nationality, it gives you a broad perspective of the world, making you open-minded.

  4. Fosters teamwork

    Children learn that they are part of a team and give their best in the game. Sports teaches you to win with class and lose with dignity.

  5. Sports give a taste of both success and failures

    Losing gives them the motivation to work harder in the future. It redefines them to be a real fighter.

  6. Builds self-esteem in children

    Children become more confident in understanding their abilities. They develop self-respect and respect for others.

  7. Improves mental well being

    Sports are stress busters that release positive feelings in the child. It allows your child to fight against internal conflict and aggressive outbursts.

Parents with high hopes often push their children into sports or physical activities. Forcing can create a countereffect. Understand your child’s likes and dislikes because every child is unique.

Let him/her first get used to sports. If not this, then let your child explore things that excite him/her. Results, medals are secondary, what your child wants should be at the highest priority.

Let it come from inside!

Balancing physical health and mental health

Physical health can be maintained by providing nutritious food, sleep and outdoor activities. Mental health is a major concern among children facing troubled childhood, violence, peer pressure.

Parents need to work on improving mental health for better development of the child. Let us understand what includes in both and how to balance it.

Physical health can be achieved by:

  • balanced diet
  • proper sleep
  • exercise or sports
  • healthy surrounding

Mental health can be achieved by:

  • love and care from family
  • safe surrounding
  • high self-esteem
  • spending quality family time
  • parental guidance
  • appreciation from parents and teachers

A slight change in your lifestyle can help you to gain a healthy mind and body. It is important to balance both by giving equal time to your mind and body.

Your child is continuously struggling between fulfilling your dreams and understanding his wants. Take and give time to understand both. Spend at least one hour with your child speaking about school, friends, teachers, etc. Plan frequent picnics or vacation trips and spend quality time.

Parents and teachers need to give attention to every child this can help them to cope with normal stressors and recognize their abilities much faster.

Other ways to help children deal with mental health

Prevention is better than cure! Every child craves for his parent’s or teacher’s attention. Mental health can be worse if you don't tell your child about what it is. Instead of protecting him/her, expose your child to the world.

The best way to deal with mental stress is having the right conversation with your child; this may help you to open the lines of communication and keep you in the loop with your child’s emotions and behaviour.

  • Make your child aware of mental health

    Break the stigma associated with mental health by educating your child about depression and other mental health issues. Make him/her aware of the concept; let it be more like a casual talk.

  • Ask him/her questions

    No one else than a mother can understand her child’s mood better. Ask him/her open-ended questions even when nothing is wrong. Throw random questions like How was your day? What you didn't like about today? What was the good thing that you liked about today?

  • Speak calmly

    Don't raise your tone when your child is not answering you. Just be at peace and strike the right cords when your child is in a good mood. Take him/her to interesting places and speak calmly.

  • Make your child feel comfortable

    Start speaking about your day or something that you feel like sharing with your child. This can make them feel more comfortable and safer to share their side of the story.

  • Give full attention

    Devote your full attention to your child’s talk. Note that you remember everything from his best friend’s name to his favourite sports. Children love to be heard by their parents.

  • If not verbally, speak using emojis

    Not all children love talking. If your child is introvert, then you can speak using emojis. Yes! Prepare a chart and ask your child to point out the emoji. You can also take him/her to an amusement park or a game zone and then talk.

  • Don’t dive into giving solution

    ln such a situation, parents are often anxious and jump into solutions. Actually, your child wants to come up with a solution themselves. Instead of being judgmental, ask your child what he/she has done to cope with the problem. Try to be a support as your child tackles his own problems.

  • Make them feel confident

    Children suffering from mental stress find school difficult; this makes them demotivated. Parents and teachers should appreciate the child's smallest effort. During such time, children are extra sensitive and your encouraging words can help them to regain their lost confidence.

Parents and teachers need to make sure they don't ignore these symptoms of mental health:

  1. forgetfulness
  2. restlessness
  3. aggressive nature
  4. less social
  5. dropping/fluctuating grades
  6. headaches and body aches
  7. changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  8. self-harm

If you observe these signs, understand your child needs help. Head to a mental health clinic soon.

Nalanda International School is an ICSE school in Baroda that takes care of their students mental as well as physical health to ensure the overall development of a child. Contact us to know more about us!

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