We may all experience problems with our mental health at some point in our lives, and there’s always help and support available whenever you need it – this could be from family, friends, teachers, school counsellors, a GP, or even a friend’s parent(s).
Some of the problems we may experience are covered on the information pages on this website, such as low mood, anxiety, self-harm and sleep difficulties.
There are also loads of things you can do to help yourself and to improve your mental wellbeing. They can be done every day or a few times a week, and they can be done even when you’re not feeling like you’re struggling as they can help you to keep your mind healthy and maintain feelings of positivity.
So, what can help?
If there’s something you don’t understand or you’d like to know more about, the best thing to do is to speak to someone who will be able to provide information or suggest who you should talk to, such as a parent, teacher or a GP. You can always do some research yourself; your local library will have loads of books to help you, or you can use one of the computers in the library to look things up online. Of course you can access loads of fantastic information online from your own computer, tablet or phone.
YoungMinds is a really fantastic website.
Rethink Mental Health is a charity with a really helpful website.
Exercise and Keeping Active
There is evidence saying that exercise can help us feel better, not just in our physical health but also our emotional health. When we exercise it releases ‘feel good’ chemicals called endorphins in our brain and it can even protect us from stress. Being active can help us concentrate and sleep better and generally have a more positive outlook on life.
Activity can help us feel good about ourselves and to feel more in control which helps when we are worried or stressed. Choose something that suits you and that you would enjoy; any activity that gets us moving and our hearts beating a little quicker is good activity.
Some activities you could try:
- Walking instead of getting the bus
- Walking the dog
- Joining a gym
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift
- Join a sports group
This is about being in the present moment and not thinking about things in the future or the past. When you’re out walking, try to enjoy what’s happening in that moment and notice different things around you, such as the colour of the leaves, how warm or cold it feels, other people around you, what sounds you can hear… all of these things help you to slow your mind down and gather your thoughts. Mindfulness can be applied to anything you do, anytime, anywhere. The idea is to think about what you’re doing at that time and notice the small things, to try and stop you from thinking about things that are worrying you or causing you stress.
There are some great Guided Meditation videos on YouTube - here's some videos you might find helpful:
Mindfulness for Kids: The Magnificent Garden video on YouTube.
13 Minutes Body Scan Meditation for Teens and Children video on YouTube.
You'll also be able to find some on Spotify and other places where you stream and download your music.
There are loads of different types of breathing exercises, such as ones to do by yourself where you might breathe in slowly for 3 seconds and breathe out slowly for 3 seconds, repeating this a few times, or you could try a guided breathing exercise on YouTube or an app on your phone where someone talks you through different things to try. Breathing exercises are great if you’re feeling anxious or panicky, but you might find them helpful for lots of different reasons.
Listen to Lewis describe how he uses deep relaxation:
Almost everything today is accessed online via the internet or on an app, such as information, videos and even the way we communicate with other people. This can start to cause problems because we become too reliant on technology, particularly mobile phones as they’re with us 24/7.
Every now and then it’s a good idea to try and have a break from technology and spend time enjoying things without being glued to our phones! You could try putting your phone on ‘silent’ and dedicating certain times of the day to being without your phone, such as:
- Meal times
- During classes
- When you first go to bed
- The last hour before heading to bed
- When you first wake up
- When you’re with family and friends
- If you go out for a walk or do some other exercise
Over time you’ll start to realise that you don’t need your phone as much as you think you do, and you’ll start to enjoy other activities so much more. This is also a part of being ‘mindful’ and is great for wellbeing and having some “time-out” from constant social contact and distraction.
Hear Lewis talking about other things he's done to help him to feel calm:
Kate describes some of the things that help her to cope:
- Listen to music
- Avoid drinking and ‘self-medicating’
- Remember recovery is a day at a time
- Be honest with your school and teachers about your problems – they can help with flexibility of timetables and lessons
- Listen to old playlists
- Distract yourself with games on your phone
- Be patient with any therapy you are engaged in, try not to lose hope
- When things are not great have a ‘go-to person’ who can listen, talk and be there for you
- Solve mysteries on Snapchat and other social media sites as a distraction
- Search your own name on Urban Dictionary as a distraction technique
- Watch Memes online
- Use an online diary to track your mood – this can be helpful in being reflective
- Watch your favourite TV programme
- Seek professional help if you think you need it or if you’re not sure where to turn – ask friends to support you if it’s too hard to talk to your parents
Things to help with anxiety:
- Put lavender oil on your pillow or the sleeve of your clothes
- Have a change of environment or scenery, such as getting out of the house or spending time in a different room in the house
- Creating a safe space for yourself – an area where you only go if you feel anxious, such as a corner of your room or the garden
- Use colouring in books
- Using tangle toys/stress balls
- Others offering sympathy and calmness is essential – try not to reject it when people offer this
- Cuddling and spending time with a pet(s)
- Audio loops on Spotify
Real Life Experience
If you'd like to share your story of coping strategies and tips that you have found helpful, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information.