The Power of Walk and Talk this Mental Health Awareness Week

In today’s whirlwind world, connecting with our children can feel like a maze. But amongst the chaos, there’s a simple solution: take a walk and talk. As Mental Health Awareness Week has arrived, with the theme of “Movement: Moving more for our mental health,” it reminds us to explore the power of movement for both physical and mental wellbeing, especially for our children.

Talking openly about mental health can be challenging, particularly with kids. However, a change of scenery and shared activity can create space for those difficult conversations. Whether it’s a nature walk, a bike ride, or even dancing around the house, movement can break down barriers and foster connection.

To help, Harriet Finlayson, mental health nurse at Bupa has shared some tips for creating stronger bonds on the move:

  1. Get Outside

Sometimes, the most important talks happen outside the house. A walk offers a relaxed atmosphere, taking the pressure off forced interaction and encouraging openness. Fresh air and new surroundings can create a space for honest connection. Start with open-ended questions like, “What was the best part of your week?” or “What are you excited about for the weekend?”

  1. Embrace the Quiet Moments

Conversation is key, but don’t underestimate the power of silence. Sometimes, quiet allows for reflection. Include moments of quiet during your walk to give your child space to process thoughts and emotions without pressure to talk.

  1. Listen with Empathy

As you walk, truly listen, not just hear. Maintain eye contact, nod in understanding, and reflect back on what your child shares. Validate their feelings and reassure them that you’re there to support them.

  1. Be Open

You are your child’s role model, so if it feels right, don’t shy away from sharing your own struggles and achievements. Saying something like, “When I was your age, I used to struggle with…” can break down barriers and create a safe space for them to confide in you without judgement.

  1. Movement as Self-Care

Encourage physical activity in your child’s daily routine. Whether it’s biking, playing a sport, or just dancing, prioritise activities they enjoy. Movement isn’t just about fitness; it’s a form of self-care that can boost mood, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. By incorporating movement alongside conversation, you equip them with tools to manage their mental health throughout life.

As we navigate the digital age, let’s not forget the simple joys of walking with our children. Mental Health Awareness Week is a reminder to prioritise their wellbeing. Make walking and talking a regular habit to build strong connections and create a safe space for open communication. Remember, if you need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.