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31 Days of Mental Health for Children & Families

May 1, 2023

A young family practices mindfulness by spending time outdoors together.

Your mental health affects how you think, feel and act. It helps determine how you handle stress, emotions, choices, and how you relate to others.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence, through your adult years.

Taking care of your mental health is a big part of staying healthy and growing strong. That’s why we are giving you and your family some fun ideas for growing your mental health. Let’s grow!

31 Day Mental Health Challenge Calendar Summary

Get started on a month of increased mindfulness and peace.  For a summary of what you’ll be up to all 31 days, grab this calendar download. 

Week One

Day 1 - Sleep

Do your parents always want you to go to bed on time? Getting enough sleep is important for your mental health.

  • Work with your parents to find a good bedtime and stick to it. This helps you feel better, think better and grow strong.
  • If you drink soda with caffeine, have it early in the day. Caffeine can make sleeping more difficult. And remind your parents to do the same.
  • Do you love video games, texting your friends and watching TikTok memes? Remember to turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime. Your brain needs a rest, and you will sleep better.

Day 2 - Food

You need good foods for good mental health.

  • Ask your parent to sneak veggies and fruits into foods you really like, like shredded zucchini in your turkey burger, a fruit smoothie, and carrots in your cookies.
  • Sugar is sweet but too much can be hard on your body and mental health. Talk to your parents about where you can all cut back and feel better.
  • Cooking together as a family can be super fun. Work with your parents to find a new recipe you all want to try.

Day 3 - Exercise

Being active is really good for your mental health. Did you know that exercise wakes up the “happy” feelings in your mind and body

  • Play ball! Get outside and throw, kick or hit a ball with friends.
  • Get someone to time you to see how fast you can run up and down the stairs.
  • Learn a new activity on YouTube! Try yoga, Tai Chi or a quick HIIT workout.

Day 4 - What Are You Thinking? 

What’s going on in that head of yours really matters for your mental health and mood.

  • Did you know that your brain has over 70,000 thoughts a day? That is a lot of thinking. But make sure they are mostly positive thoughts. See if you can catch a thought. Watch out, they’re fast.
  • We all have times we can say mean or angry things to ourselves. If you make a mistake or hurt someone or get embarrassed, see if you can let the thoughts help you make a change, say you’re sorry, or learn something for next time.

Day 5 - Write It Down

Putting thoughts into words can help you feel better.

  • If you are just learning to write, ask a parent to help you write down what you are thinking.
  • Try writing your thoughts in a notebook before bed.
  • Write a list of good things. Be on the lookout all day long for good stuff to write down. This will train your brain to be a good-stuff finder.

Day 6 - Vision Board

You are a very creative kid. Expressing yourself is a good way to improve how you feel and build your dreams.

  • Let yourself dream big. A trip to Disney World? Winning a race or spelling bee? Making a new friend? Work with your family to come up with yours.
  • Cut out pictures, words, and images.
  • Glue them to a poster board in a way that you like. Now put it up where you can be reminded of your dream.

Day 7 - Use Your Nose

Did you know that what you smell can wake up happy feelings

  • Work with your parents to try smelling different things in the kitchen. Try vanilla, cinnamon or ginger. Notice what your feel with each aroma.
  • With your parents, choose a scented candle you can light and smell. Sit back and relax together.
  • Try using the lighting of the candle as a family ritual to start or end your day.

Week Two

Day 8 - STOP

Sometimes you just need to STOP. Try this with your folks.

  • First you just Stop.
  • Next, Take a breath.
  • Observe, look around.
  • Now, Proceed with your day feeling chilled out.

Day 9 - Buddy System

Having a buddy to keep on track with what you want to do can help you be successful.

  • Ask a friend to help you when you want to build healthy habits.
  • Write yourself a letter and be your own buddy.
  • Ask your parents to be your buddies so you can remind each other to stay on track.

Day 10 - Cool the Pizza

If you are getting angry or mad “Cool the Pizza”.

  • Take a deep breath in.
  • Blow the breath out slowly.
  • Imaging you are cooling off a hot piece of pizza.

Day 11 - Name That Feeling

You have lots of feelings inside. Learning how to notice and name your feelings will help you learn about your mental health.

  • Work with your parents to notice and name your feelings.
  • Print out a list of all your feelings and post it some place where you can see it.
  • Notice where you feel that feeling in your body.

Day 12 - Five Senses

You have five main senses in your body. Learning about this can help you know yourself better. Practice with your parents to name your five senses.

  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you taste?
  • What do you smell?
  • What do you taste?

Day 13 – Fly Like a Bird

Pretend that your arms are wings.

  • Bring your wings up into the sky and take a big deep breath.
  • Bring your arms down slowly as you blow the air out.
  • Try it a few times slowly and see how you feel.

Day 14 – Spring Showers Brings May Flowers

Flowers need rain to grow and so do people. Try this different kind of RAIN to help grow your mental health.

  • R: Recognize what is happening right now.
  • A: Allow it to be what it is for right now.
  • I: Be an Investigator. Are you hungry, tired, thirsty, angry or sad?
  • N: Nurture yourself. That can mean asking for help or doing something for yourself that will feel good

Week Three

Day 15 - Gratitude

Did you know that gratitude can help you feel better? Try it out and see.

  • Write down five things you are really grateful for, even small things like water to drink or your favorite toy.
  • Tell someone. Sharing what you are grateful for is like supercharging it and giving it an even bigger boost.
  • Take a moment before eating to breathe and feel grateful for your food, the person who made it, even all the people who had to grow it for you.

Day 16 - Be Kind to Yourself

If we make a mistake, or things don’t work out the way we want, sometimes we can be pretty hard on ourselves. That’s the time to take a compassion break.

Pay attention to the things you are saying to yourself.

  • Ask yourself “what would help most right now?” It may be a snack, a nap, or a hug.
  • Take a small step to help yourself in this moment.

Day 17 - Sound Bath 

Of course, you take a real bath to keep clean, but did you know too many loud sounds and noises can upset your nervous system and make you feel stressed?

  • Try to find a quiet place to sit or lie down.
  • Have someone ring a bell one time.
  • See how long you can hear the sound until it disappears.

Day 18 - Mind Cleaning 

Have your parents ever told you to clean your room? Here’s another kind of cleaning, inside your mind. It can help you feel as good as a nice clean room.

  • Step one: write down all your worries on a piece of paper.
  • Step two: get quiet for a few minutes.
  • Step three: take some deep breaths.
  • Step four: picture all the clutter in your mind and imagine you have an eraser swiping your brain clean – just like a white board. Make sure you wipe the whole thing.
  • Step five: when you are done wiping your mind clean, throw out the worry list and go on with your day.

Day 19 - Clean Your Hands

You know you need to wash your hands to get rid of germs, but did you know it can also calm your nerves? The next time you wash your hands try this:

  • Turn on the faucet and listen to the sound of the running water.
  • Slowly put your hands under the water and feel the temperature, the sensation of the water on your skin.
  • Add soap and smell the aroma, notice the texture.
  • Turn the water off and slowly dry your hands.
  • Now you have clean hands and a calm heart.

Day 20 - EQ 

EQ means Emotional Intelligence and we can all get smarter with some effort. You are smart in lots of different ways. Emotional Intelligence if one of your strengths that you can grow throughout your whole life. Try this to keep getting smarter.

  • Start by noticing the things that upset you – Not getting your way? Having to share? Being told ‘No’?
  • No one likes this, but we can learn to roll with it as we get more EQ.
  • Write it down.
  • This is the first step in knowing more about yourself and taking control of how you choose to respond.

Day 21 - Be Like a Pond and REFLECT 

When you look into a pond, what do you see? Your reflection.

  • Reflection time can help us grow and learn, so make some time for it.
  • Pick something you want to reflect on. Maybe it is how you get along with your family, or what upsets you.
  • Use books, journaling or sharing stories with your family. Remember how you used to handle things when you were younger and think about how you want to handle things as you grow.

Week Four

Day 22 - Try It on for Size

To get better at something, we have to practice. The same thing is true for feelings. Try some on for size.

  • Want to feel brave? Try a Superman or Superwoman stance. Stand with your feet wide apart and put your hands on your hips. Feel the bravery fill your whole body.
  • Want to feel kind and gentle? Try putting your hands on your heart and feel your whole body soften.

Day 23 -  Raisin Exercise

Sometimes we eat so fast we don’t even taste our food. Try this raisin exercise for a taste explosion.

  • Get a box of raisins.
  • Open the box and smell the raisins.
  • Next take one raisin in your fingers and just look at it (so wrinkly).
  • Now place the raisin on your tongue but don’t chew it yet (notice what happens in your mouth).
  • Now you can chew slowly, and enjoy the sensations.

Day 24 - Glitter 

This will help you when your mind is too full.

  • Fill a jar with water.
  • Add a spoonful of glitter, secure the top tight, and shake it up.
  • Imagine the glitter is like all your thoughts when you are stressed or mad or upset.
  • Watch as the glitter slowly floats to the bottom of the jar.
  • Take slow deep breaths as you watch the glitter settle and your mind quiet down.

Day 25 - Go on Safari

  • Head outside.
  • Start looking around for anything that walks, crawls or flies.
  • Use all your sense as you explore the world around you.

Day 26 - Blow Bubbles

  • Use your breath to make something grow.
  • When you are ready to blow a bubble, take a deep breath in.
  • Notice that if you blow too hard the bubble bursts.
  • If you blow too soft the bubble doesn’t grow.
  • Find just the right amount of air to slowly make the bubble grow.
  • When if floats off, watch it go, then watch it pops — just like all your worries.

May 27 - Body Scan

  • Start at the bottoms of your feet – what do you notice?
  • Check out your legs – do you feel any sensations in them?
  • Now move to your fingers and arms – anything tingling?
  • Focus on the top of your head – feel each body part all the way to the top.

Day 28 - Belly Breathing

  • Try lying down on your back with a book on your belly.
  • Breathe in and make the book go up.
  • Breathe out and watch the book go down.

Day 29 - Mindful Listening

  • Play this listening game with the whole family.
  • Find a recording or something around the house that can make a sound (animal sounds, a bouncing ball, a blender).
  • With your eyes closed and ears open, listen to the sound.
  • Guess what it is.
  • Everyone gets a turn.

Day 30 - Mindful Movement 

  • Try reaching for the stars while you take a deep breath.
  • Slowly touch your toes as you exhale all the breath.
  • Stand tall with your arms out to the side. Take a breath in and exhale as you stretch to the right.
  • Inhale as you stand tall, exhale as you stretch to the left.
  • Check in to see how you feel.

Day 31 - Make a ‘Thankfulness’ Jar

  • Find a big jar, paper and pen.
  • Everyone gets to write something they are thankful for and put it into the jar all week long.
  • On a day when you are all home, take turns reading all the thankfulness inside.
  • Mental Wellness