I am attending more and more schools where a high percentage of students are struggling with anxiety and depression. A couple of years ago I shared the study from Duke University and I think it warrants looking at it again.
Before I share that research, as parents we need to be aware of how much time our children are spending in their bedrooms. When adults suffer with depression they will spend most of their time in their house and too many hours lying in bed. Research indicates that this is when we need to get out of the bedroom and the house and spend face to face time with our social network of friends. I don’t think that it is any different with todays’ youth and young adults. During my assembly, I ask students to raise their hands if they spend too much time in bed; usually over 30% of the hands go up. I tell them to get out of the bedroom, as it is for sleeping, go to the kitchen or living room and engage with your family.
Researchers took a group of 156 people that were suffering with depression and separated them into three groups. One group was given medication, the second group a combination of medication and an exercise program, and the third group only an exercise program. The exercise was three times a week and only 45 minutes per session. The study continued for 4 months and when they were done all three groups were fairly equal in the level of success that they had attained. After the study was completed, researchers returned six months later to follow up with the participants. Some people had dropped off but there was enough for the study to be valid.
Group #1 (medication only) – 38% had fallen back into depression
Group #2 (medication and exercise) – 31% had fallen back into depression
Group #3 – (exercise only) – 8% had fallen back into depression
Physical activity is not only for the body but also the mind and the spirit. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins which directly affect our mood. What are endorphins? They are a group of hormones released within the brain; in large amounts they can make you feel relaxed or rejuvenated, basically feel good.
What do you have to do? They hardest part is getting started, getting moving. Here are a few ideas, a brisk daily walk, going to a gym, joining a group exercise class, a bike ride, a jog. Whatever you do make it part of your daily or weekly routine.
Research has proven that what we eat directly correlates with how we feel. Have you ever eaten or drank something and afterwards you feel blah or crappy, and you think why did I do that? That’s your body talking to you. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it has been many hours since we last ate. Nourishing our bodies with the right food will give us the energy to take on what life gives us.
Sleep, too much or too little sleep can cause imbalance. Restful sleep is key as adults require 7-9 hours and school-age children require 9-11 hours. Teens require 8-10 hours but try telling them that, might explain why they can sleep till noon on the weekends. But sleep is food for the brain, it can help you to eat better and manage stress. So how do we get a good sleep? Nutrition, physical activity, meditation or “me time”. The National Sleep Foundation has a good article worth the read, titled Teens and Sleep. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep
Being the inspiration for someone else can be rejuvenating, it takes the focus off ourselves. When we become focused on someone else, we can forget about our own challenges for a while. Make a difference in the world even if it’s in a small way. A man by the name of Ghandi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in others.”
Maintaining balance is giving time to all aspects of your life: spiritual, emotional, family, career, physical, mental. It’s easy to allow one area to slowly takeover the others and be out of balance. The point is our kids, as well as ourselves, need to be aware that it is a combination of the above things. Start with one aspect of maintaining balance and then build on it. It is a process, be kind to yourself.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis
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Police Humour – New Police Interrogation Technique
Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t control himself during a line-up.
When detectives asked each man in the line-up to repeat the words, ‘Give me all your money or I’ll shoot,’ the man shouted, ‘That’s not what I said!’
Based on the depression and anxiety information provided at the beginning of this newsletter I feel that maybe the family time tip needs to be activity based. Depending what’s available in your area, go skating during public ice time, a bike ride, walk, a hike, check out a local event in your area or a day trip to another town. Get them out of the bedroom.
Testimonial of the month:
I attended your drug talk last night. I also work on the acute psychiatric wards at our local Wellness Institute and would like very much to share some of your information with our acute clients many of whom endorse cannabis as good for their mental health. I thought your information was very powerful and easy to understand. Some of our service users self-medicate with it and worsen their condition. Some belief that cannabis is healthier than cigarettes. Often they see no connection between increased use and admission to hospital for psychosis.
I would greatly appreciate if you would send me some information from your talk such as the photograph of the man showing the equivalence of cigarettes to one joint and the graphs with the threshold levels changing and gateway to other drug use. I will also forward your contact to the Turning Point and Child and Adolescent services so they can access you online.
I would like to thank you for speaking to my children. They are well versed in knowing not to take drugs given Mum’s work… they don’t want to become one of Mum’s patients. My son told me last night ‘I’ll never take drugs’ this was a relief to hear as I was concerned that he was beginning to believe that cannabis was safer than cigarettes (they hear and see fake facts depicted on the internet) and that perhaps vaping was ok. He was even beginning to question the advice and facts I had given him. He has not yet done these things but hearing about these things from his peer group and was perhaps contemplating. It does take shock tactics. I recall seeing a picture of black lungs when I was young and seeing someone die of cigarettes and alcohol addiction so never smoked or got drunk.
Thanks for your talk.