Create incentives for self-care

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The impact of social media on healthy behavior is also a major topic of the workshop. A “distorted picture” is often presented there that “leads to misinterpretations or unnecessary self-improvement”. Icon Image: dpa © Red

A new workshop in Gießen explores the question of how young people go through everyday (school) life with equanimity and strength. The starting point is your healthy behavior.

pour, water . Daycares and schools are partially closed, there is little contact with friends, there are hardly any opportunities to exercise, on top of that, there are concerns about parents and grandparents getting sick, and the uncertainty about when life will finally return to normal – the coronavirus pandemic is only demanding so many children and young adults. They had to step back and practice concession. “Wasted time” should feel longer for their years of life than they do for adults. The Resilience Workshop also wants to “calmly and vigorously during everyday (school) life” to deal with psychological and physical stresses. The starting point is your healthy behavior. In an interview with the paper, spokeswoman Anne Rosenkranz-Bach explains that stress factors such as increased performance pressure and social dependency are taken into account, as are social media consumption and the need to please others. However, the primary goal is not to show ‘what is ‘bad’, but to engage with the topics in a curious and participatory manner.

First Corona, now the terrible war in Ukraine: what does it do to children and young people who are still in the middle of their development when there is a permanent emergency?

I cannot make a solid professional assessment of the psychological and social effects of war and pandemic because I do not belong to a psychological profession. But in my immediate environment and in my work with children, I repeatedly find that children and young adults deal with crisis situations very differently and in a reflective manner, depending on their age. Young people in particular have extensive information channels at their disposal. This is actually how the idea for the workshop came about. Originally, a torrent of information on health topics – including corona – should be collected, filtered and processed. In order to give children and young people the opportunity to distinguish between technically questionable and questionable content, and thus be able to form their own opinion.

To what extent do children and young people deal with such stressful situations differently from adults?

The mechanisms of coping with stress must be viewed individually in children and adolescents as in adults. Everyone deals with experience, stress, or crises differently – depending on how strong the social environment and available resources are. In general, however, I would say that children and young people seek help early, approach things less “stressful” and, above all, try new things with joy and a spirit of discovery.

And adults have lost this ability?

They usually find it difficult to take their needs into account, and they usually admit to themselves too late that something is wrong. Symptoms such as headache, dizziness or fatigue should first appear over a longer period of time. Due to the steadily increasing demands of everyday life, adults are often so far removed from themselves that effective self-care is no longer possible. Because the beginning of every change is the recognition of the individual’s condition. This recognition is usually easier for children and young adults, but they must be given the opportunity to be able and allow them to change what they have observed.

What is your impression: Were young people’s concerns, fears and insecurities taken seriously during the pandemic?

My very personal opinion on this is that we generally underestimate children and young people, often explaining too little to them and giving them no platform for naming their needs and fears.

Through your workshop, you want to show ways to deal with current challenges in a more comfortable and safe way. What is your approach?

The workshop aims to enable participants to identify challenges and take and implement appropriate measures to overcome them. This means something different for everyone. However, the main challenges, even among children and young adults, are deadline pressure, increased pressure to perform, social dependency, status, ‘desire to please’, media consumption, fear of missing something, and rapid change cycles such as war situations or epidemics. These rapidly changing external conditions require a high level of adaptability on the part of the individual. It is therefore important to identify energy providers (resources) and energy thieves (stress factors) and to deal with them if necessary.

Strategies for ‘health-promoting behavior’ will be discussed. What does that mean in practice?

Health-promoting behavior strategies almost always include the essentials of exercise, nutrition, relaxation and addiction—and here specifically media consumption. My primary concern is not to show children and young people what is “bad” but to create a curious and participatory approach. When it comes to nutrition, this means enjoying and enjoying food and at the same time being able to categorize how it affects your body and which ones are particularly good, for example to avoid the afternoon slump at school. In addition, the impact of social media on health behavior will be a major topic. Especially on Instagram and similar platforms, a distorted and highly polished picture of health issues is often presented, leading to misinterpretations or unnecessary self-improvement.

What exercise and diet advice can participants expect from you?

It is difficult to give a general answer to this question because it relies heavily on prior knowledge. However, there will certainly be many tips on relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, self-training and meditation, tips on falling asleep and staying asleep, and ideas for body and mind movement. When it comes to nutrition, the general rule is that everything can be eaten, but the amount of some foods, such as sweets, should be less than the amount of fruits and vegetables.

And why is it important for you to focus on it?

Unfortunately, we are noticing an increasing lack of exercise and an increase in obesity in children and adolescents. The KIGGS long-term study by the Robert Koch Institute shows that almost every fifth child (1.7 million children aged 3 to 17 years) in Germany is overweight. The coronavirus pandemic and the associated suspension of club sports and the closure of recreational facilities, swimming pools and stadiums may have reinforced this trend. Moreover, especially in cities, the natural playable space for climbing, walking, balancing, and gaining movement experience is getting smaller and smaller. There are already many large projects opposing this trend in kindergarten (“Healthy breakfast”), primary schools (“School 2000”) and at the federal level (“in the form”). But especially in the field of nutrition, children and young people always directly depend on the healthy behavior of their parents. The workshop creates incentives, presenting ideas and motivations that enable children and young people to take care of themselves and the motivations of family life. According to the motto: “Mom, Dad, I learned that … – Can we try it?

Can you give an example of a relaxation exercise that helps to approach problems more calmly and strengthen one’s resilience.

Relaxation is as individual as each person, and it is important to find the direction or style that works for you. So, in the workshop we first look at whatever stresses me out and then look for the right resources. It is very easy to imagine, and above all, applicable everywhere, to imagine with closed eyes that we are simulating the waves of the sea with our stomach and breathing. With each inhalation, the wave rises (the abdominal wall rises) and with each exhalation, the water sinks again. The visualization is repeated until we feel visibly relaxed.

How can the suggestions and exercises given in everyday (school) life be “memorized”?

It’s the same here as with anything new: practice and apply – preferably at regular intervals, eg always before school hours and subjects that do not particularly suit you. In addition, classmates should be involved, since it is better to train in a group and reduce disruptive factors.

Registration can be done via the Youth Education Center of Giessen: by phone at 0641 / 306 2497 or by e-mail to jbw@giessen.de. Appointments are Wednesdays May 4, 18 and 25 and on June 1 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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