Often, when a family encounters a tragedy or feels like it’s in “survival mode,” individuals can begin to neglect some key areas which contribute largely to emotional health. While making sure that getting rest, fostering relationships, and participating in recreational activities won’t make your problems go away, they will help your load feel a lot lighter than it would if you didn’t take care of yourself by making sure these basic human needs are met.
Sleep deprivation in America is such a widespread issue that it’s been referred to as a “public health epidemic.” While only about one-third of American adults get the prescribed 7-8 hours of shut eye each night, the stakes are even higher and numbers more concerning, when it comes to our kids.
According to a 2012 study, only 8% of teens get the 9.25 hours they need each night. In addition to thwarted cognitive growth and ability, sleep-deprived teens — particularly those who stay up past midnight — are 20-25% more likely to suffer from depression and consider self-injury than their peers who go to bed before 10 p.m..
The word recreation carries with it the idea of recharging, renewing one’s mind and energy source. It also includes the idea of “creation” — which is something that requires imagination, movement, and thought. Simply vegging out in front of the TV, playing video games, or surfing the web for hours on end does not provide the same kind of renewal that an athletic activity or creative endeavor can give.
While some adrenaline-pumping or competitive sports can actually have the opposite effect, many low-key outdoor activities have a unique ability to elevate the emotions. Movement and pleasure provides helpful release of endorphins, as well, which, combined with sunshine and fresh air, can help alleviate all kinds of tensions that we face. As one writer put it, ”If creation declares God’s glory, get out there and listen to it!”
We always need relationships, but especially when there is hard stuff going on within our families, we need relationships beyond our families. We need relationships where we feel safe and free to be open and real, but we also need relationships with people who will encourage and support us without letting us simply wallow in our difficulties.
God created the church primarily for His glory, but part of His design for it is to fulfill the need we have for society and companionship. The Christian life was never intended to be lived by individuals, each on his or her own island. There’s plenty of “one-another” commands throughout the New Testament, and there’s no way to live them all out in 5 minutes before and after Sunday worship service. We need to make opportunities and carve out time to pursue mutually edifying relationships in our lives.
Regardless of how difficult your teen’s life is — or how hard his or her choices are making yours — making sure these key components are included in the lives of each of your family members will help increase all of your stability and satisfaction in life.