Looking After Yourself
We want to make it easier for you to help yourself by providing clear, straightforward information about issues you may be struggling with, as well as advice on how to improve your health and wellbeing.
Sections on this site include information to help you deal with general wellbeing issues that young people themselves have identified as important, alongside self-help information around common mental health issues
Things that impact on our emotional wellbeing
Bullying and Cyberbullying
Bullying is a consistent and repeated behaviour that is specifically meant to hurt someone either physically or emotionally. People get bullied for many different reasons, such as their race, religion, sexuality, appearance or gender, but it’s important to remember bullying is never the fault of the victim.
Bullying that takes place online is known as cyber bullying. It is as harmful as physical, verbal or face to face bullying. Bullying and cyber bullying can take place in different ways and at different places like at home, at school or out in the street. With the growing use of smartphones and as we play out more of our lives online, it’s important to consider how to safely use the internet and deal with any peer pressure that comes along with it.
The most important thing to do if you are being bullied is to reach out to someone immediately (like a parent/guardian, school teacher or support worker).
Bullying can be a scary experience, so try not to deal with it on your own. Explaining to an adult what is happening can enable you to take the first step to make it stop and gain some practical advice on how to get through it.
For information on statistics and information on bullying please take a look at the following websites:
Drug and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol are taken by young people for many different reasons.
It may be as a form of escapism to cope with difficult life circumstances or relationship problems; this is often called self-medicating.
Alcohol and drugs change the way we feel about ourselves; for example, making us feel confident to overcome a natural shyness. In some instances it may start as trying something new or as a way of “having fun” with friends.
What we do know is that this can sometimes spiral out of our control and people find themselves using substances more regularly which starts to negatively impact on their general wellbeing and mental health. This in turn affects their relationships, physical health, confidence, school and social activities.
There are lots of online support networks to access for help or advice:
- Young Minds- Find out how drug use can affect mental health and where to find more information and support
- Frank- "Honest information about drugs"
- Addaction- one of the UK's leading drug, alcohol and mental health charities
- Young Addaction- Find out about Young Addaction and how to refer yourself
Coping with the loss of a loved one or someone who is significant to us is one of the hardest things to comprehend and cope with.
In these difficult times, it is important to speak to those around you, such as parents, teachers and friends. They can help you cope and adjust to any loss and the array of feelings this brings with it.
Grieving loss is a very individual and human process, it is important to give yourself time in this process and not to put pressure on yourself to behave or act a certain way.
It’s also important to look after yourself during this difficult time e.g. eating regularly, having a regular sleep routine.
NHS Choices “Bereavement and Young People” webpage is full of tips to help cope with the death of a loved one.
Another form of loss includes parents getting divorced, and this can trigger the same sorts of feelings and emotions as physical bereavement or loss. This can be a very difficult time but it is important to remember it is not your fault. Childline has some excellent coping strategies for this situation.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Self-confidence issues are very common amongst young people.
75% of all young people have experienced low self-confidence at least once.
Having low self-confidence (also known as self-esteem) can be caused by different things. This can be things such as comparing yourself to your friends or other people, problems with family, or receiving a negative comment.
Sometimes this passes and you can regain your self-confidence, and even use the negative experience to develop yourself. Sometimes it takes a little push to get over it.
Childline has some top tips for boosting self confidence and self esteem
Young minds also has some top tips on how to believe in yourself
Difficulties with sleep come in many different forms.
These can include disturbed sleep, insomnia, nightmares, sleep walking or just simply not getting enough quality shut eye.
It is common for people of all ages to experience problems with sleep. Though lack of sleep does not necessarily mean there is a mental health condition, we do know from research that regular sleep is key to positive emotional wellbeing and essential for maintaining good mental health.
Problems with sleep can be associated with stress, diet, lifestyle, big changes such as moving house or social.
If you have trouble with sleep and this is impacting upon your daily life, there us is some useful sleep hygiene tips on the NHS Choices website, as well as the Young Minds website.
Sexuality and Gender (LGBTQ+)
It is common for young people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) to experience mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and self-harm.
If you identify with any aspect of the LGBT community, it is likely that you will have already dealt with or be dealing with a lot of extra stress from things such as hiding your true identity, homophobia or bullying, even parental or religious pressure, which can result in low self-esteem, feelings of fear or rejection. This can lead to social isolation, increased feelings of loneliness and loss of confidence.
There are some young people who may struggle to know how to identify themselves in terms of their gender. This can maybe be through finding it hard to identify with their birth gender, wanting to identify as another gender to which they were born or wishing to identify as gender diverse.
If you are struggling then it is important to talk to someone.
Sharing a problem is the start of being able to deal with it. Choose someone who will listen to you and be supportive such as your GP, a relative you trust, a friend, youth worker, social worker or a teacher.There are several organisations that can support young people with LGBT issues:
- Stonewall – an organisation that campaigns for the rights of LGBT community in a range of different settings
- RUComingOut – a website where people who have come out as LGBT share their stories to support others
- Mermaids – a supportive website that helps Young People and their families in the face of adversity, specialising in gender identification issues
Tips for looking after yourself (from young people themselves)
Rather than keeping any difficulties or feeling bottled up, it’s really important to talk about your feelings and any problems or difficulties you may be feeling.
Talking can be a way to cope with or solve a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while.
Just being listened to can really help you feel supported and less alone. Importantly, talking about feelings should not be considered a sign of weakness, but actually an important part of looking after yourself.
You don’t need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation. Many people feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally – maybe when you’re doing something together. It may feel awkward and difficult at first, so it is important to keep at it and practice every day.
gain, there is lots of evidence that if you are eating healthily, you will feel better emotionally. Try keeping a food diary if you want to change your eating patterns. It will help you to see how healthy your diet is and whether you need to cut down on salty, sugary or fatty foods. If you are worried about your weight, you can ask to see a nurse at school, or make an appointment with a nurse at your GP surgery. If you are having trouble with anxiety or panic attacks, check how much caffeine you are drinking. Sometimes cutting down on caffeine can make a big difference. Eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day is a great way to make your diet healthier. If you think you aren’t getting enough fruit and veg in your diet, talk to someone who can help you to change this. Try having a fruit smoothie for breakfast or a snack after school or take some grapes to school as a snack.
It can be easy to feel swamped as a teenager.
There is so much happening that can be stressful: school, coursework, exams, social media, relationships, becoming independent from your family. Sometimes it can be difficult to juggle these things with being social, and also ensuring you are looking after yourself.
Young people we spoke to talked to us about the importance of keeping a balance in your life, of things you enjoy and things you need to do in order to manage your stress levels. It’s important to remember that everyone priorities different things but it’s important to think about the right balance for you!
If you start to feel your stress levels building, it may be that you are ‘off balance’ and need some help.
It’s also important to think about if you have had particularly stressful time and you are feeling drained, to spend some time focusing on yourself and looking after yourself.
Young people we spoke to compared this to a “Banking System”.
Mindfulness is a technique that people use to become more aware of how they are feeling and what is happening around them. We tend to ignore how we are feeling and what we are thinking most of the time unless something goes wrong. Being mindful gives you a chance to stop and notice what is happening rather than just being ‘on auto-pilot’ all the time.
There is lots of research showing that regular exercise is good for you in many ways. Exercising releases endorphins which are feel-good chemicals in your brain so you feel happier after exercising. Exercise also increases blood flow to your brain, so if you are revising for exams, exercise is a great way to have a break. You don’t need to pay money to join a gym or go to a class. You could just get off the bus one stop earlier than usual, walk the dog, do some skipping or try an on-line yoga session. If you don’t feel like doing exercise, but think you should, get a friend to do it with you.
Click here to hear Ben talk about the importance of being spontaneous and getting up and out the house if you start to recognise you are feeling sad.
Find activities you enjoy!
Doing things that we enjoy makes us feel good but it can be difficult to find time in-between coursework and revision. Do you get enough time to do the things you enjoy? Is that something you can change? Do you need anyone to help you with that? If it is something you can do by yourself, set yourself a goal. It could just be that you want to reach a certain level on a computer game or that you want to finish reading a book. If you want someone else to do it with you, make a plan with them, for example, plan a trip out with your friends. If you need inspiration or want to try something new have a look on-line at what interests you in your local area. Facebook is a good place to search for local groups, or your local leisure centre will have lists of clubs that meet up there, or ask your parents, friends or a teacher to help you find something.
Or to try something really different you could become a volunteer – get in touch with the Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service
Relaxation & Self-soothing
Sometimes we don’t notice that stress and tension are building up. It can help to learn relaxation techniques which allow you to feel in control of your body. Try using this No Panic’s Relaxation Technique
When we are really distressed, it can difficult to think rationally and to know how to help ourselves. This is when we might use self-destructive or unhelpful behaviours to try and soothe and bring ourselves back down. In these instances it can be really helpful to create a “self-soothe” box. This box contains objects that harness our senses (sight, smell, touch, sounds) and help bring us back to a calmer place.
Take a look at this helpful worksheet created by a young person (17 years) talking about what is in her self-soothe box- Self Soothe Box Worksheet
Pets and Animals
Young people told us not to forget their pets too!