Mental Health and the Holidays

As the days become cooler and feel shorter, taking care of ourselves and each other continues to be very important. In the Fort McMurray Catholic Schools family we always strive to keep mental health a top priority. 

Fort McMurray Catholic Schools is proud to have counsellors in all of our schools available to help all families. We will work through these times together. 

Division Psychologist, Jillian Martin, says it is especially important this year, ‘Living in the north we expect long, dark, cold winters regardless. This year many of us are expecting an even longer, darker, colder and more difficult winter with the added isolation and restriction of COVID-19. With this being the case, it is important to continue to check in with ourselves and our children. While we know social connectedness is a basic need, we can continue to facilitate connections with others while following our AHS and provincial guidelines.”

Registered Psychologist Chantal Seymour says keeping a routine is key, “Routine is essential for both children and adults. As much as children may protest routines, this structure and consistency helps keep life organized and can keep life from becoming too chaotic and overwhelming, ultimately leading to many meltdowns. Keeping mealtimes and bedtimes consistent, maintaining screen time expectations and limits. For younger children it can help to have a visual of the daily routine.”

When it comes to making sure you are taking care of yourself, Martin shares that it is something not to be put aside, “Self-care is a stress buffer, so why is it so easy to be scratched off of our to-do list? Oftentimes engaging is self-care is seen as a luxury or as selfish when in actuality it is a necessity. Self-care is considered to be any activity that we engage in with the purpose of supporting our mental, emotional, and physical health and is supportive to improved mood and reduced anxiety.”

Play is a great way to connect continues Seymour, “Play is a critical piece in the development of a healthy brain. However, playing is not only for children, it is also very beneficial for parents as it provides an opportunity to engage fully with children and see the world from their perspective. Take time to engage in pleasurable activities; Go sledding, play board games, get crafty, think back to when you were a kid and make a list of your favourite activities and see how you can engage your children with you!” 

If you are needing or wanting some support, please reach out to your school, adds Martin, “A great place to start is checking out your school’s mental health website. There is a great amount of information and resources available to you digitally as well as information on local and community support. In addition to this, connect with your school counsellor if you have more questions regarding your children or support for your family.”