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.
What impacts 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:
- Visit the Young Minds website - to find out how drug use can affect mental health and where to find more information and support
- Visit Frank website - "Honest information about drugs"
- Visit the Addaction website - one of the UK's leading drug, alcohol and mental health charities
- Visit the Young Addaction website - to 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. The Childline website 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.
The Childline website has some top tips for boosting self confidence and self esteem.
The Young Minds website 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 is some useful sleep hygiene tips on the NHS Choices website. The Unravel website also have a helpful guide around sleep that you could find useful.
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:
- The Stonewall organisation – is an organisation that campaigns for the rights of LGBT community in a range of different settings
- The RUComingOut website – where people who have come out as LGBT share their stories to support others
- The Mermaids website – is a supportive website that helps Young People and their families in the face of adversity, specialising in gender identification issues.
Local Support Groups
- The HodgePodge website is a Think2Speak's trans youth group open to transgender or gender questioning young children age 13 and under, their families and carers. This group is based in Gainsborough
- The TPlus website is a Think2Speak's trans youth group for young people age 12-17 who are transgender or gender questioning. This group is based in Gainsborough.
Being a young carer
Being a young carer often means looking after a family member who is ill, or helping them by looking after the other members of the family while they can’t. Young carers often do more chores than other children would. On top of providing emotional support to the person they are caring for they may also have to learn how to nurse them or look after their personal needs like bathing and dressing. You may be a young carer if you are supporting a parent, brother, sister, grandparent or any other relative who may be experiencing the following
- physical disability
- mental health condition
- learning disability
- misuse of alcohol or drugs
- sensory impairment, such as hearing or sight loss
- life limiting condition
- any other long term illness or condition
Young carers do an amazing job, and as a young carer you can find helping someone very rewarding. However but you also have the right to be looked after if things get too much. If you are finding that you’re starting to feel this way, it’s important to try and talk to someone you trust, like a teacher, college counsellor or GP.
In Lincolnshire you can also be supported by Lincolnshire carers service. Lincolnshire Young Carers offers a comprehensive service which will give young carers someone who will assess their needs, provide information and make sure the right support is provided.
Anyone can refer to our service, including:
- a member of your family
- a teacher
- a school nurse
- a Social Worker
- any other professional
You can contact Lincolnshire Young Carers by phoning 01522 553275, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Lincolnshire Young Carers, 1st Floor Business Support Office, Municipal Building, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR.
Friendships & relationships
Friendships and relationships often play a big part in our lives, and can have an impact on our wellbeing. Having someone we can turn to, to share a problem or good times with, or even as a distraction when things are busy or overwhelming.
Making friends and handling conflict.
Relationships can also cause us to feel stressed and we might not always know how to handle or respond to certain situations or conversations. You might even feel lonely, and as though you don’t know how to start making connections with other people.
Building and maintaining friendships and relationships with others can be hard and it is not something that always comes naturally or easy to us. If there are some things you are finding difficult with within your friendships or relationships with others it might be worth talking to the person about how you feel. Someone you trust such as a parent, teacher or another friend may also be able to help assert yourself or just talk through how you’re feeling. There are also some helpful information advice on Childline pages below
- Childline advice on friendships, including top tips for making friends and handling difficulties such as fall outs and drifting apart.
It is important to remember that relationships are a choice and sometimes we have to recognise when a relationship is helpful, or hurtful to us. Here are some things to consider when thinking about our friendships:
Trust and Honesty
Can you trust them with your secrets? Can you rely on them or do you find that you often feel disappointed or let down by them?
One of the great benefits of a friendship is being able to talk openly about how you are feeling, your experiences and thoughts. Bottling things up can be really difficult and so being able to share things with a friend can be really helpful in a way that you can be honest, not judged and trust that what is said remains safe between you both. If a friend is talking about you with other people, whether it be about things you’ve shared with them or rumours, it might be a sign that your friendship is not healthy and might not be what you would like it to be.
Although being open and honest is important within your friendships there is a difference between a friend expressing their opinions or thoughts and them saying something to intentionally hurt you or put you down. Link to bullying info on site
Are you being treated with respect? When your around your friends you should feel able to be yourself, and be valued for who you are. Good friends will respect and support your boundaries and values, even if you don’t always agree. You should never feel pressured into doing things that you don’t feel comfortable with or that you don’t want to do.
Sometimes relationships can require more from one person than the other but this tends to even itself out. For example if a friend is going through a break up they might need a bit of extra support from you, but another time you might have a problem that you need some help solving or working through. If the balance isn’t there, and you feel you are giving more than you are receiving it might be that your relationship is no longer equal and your needs are not taking priority
- Childline advice on being assertive, including how to explain how you feel and what you need from friendships
Sex and Relationships
Figuring out whether a relationship is healthy or not can be even more difficult if you, or have been, involved romantically. You might like someone and want this to be more than a friendship, or somebody might like you more than you like them. You may have just started a new relationship but feeling pressured for it to go faster then you are ready for. There is lots of information out there on healthy relationships and how to recognise/act when a relationships doesn't feel quite right.
- Childline information on Healthy and unhealthy relationships
- Direspect Nobody website- information on healthy relationships and issues such as consent, sexting, abuse.
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.
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.
Ben (young person) has produced a soundbite about the importance of being spontaneous and getting up and out the house if you start to recognise you are feeling sad. Click here to hear what Ben has to say about the importance of keeping active>>
Chelsea (young person) has produced a soundbite on how exercise helps her. Click here to hear Chelsea talk about how exercise benefits her>>.
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
Pets and animals
Young people, including Mya, told us not to forget their pets too! Click here to hear Mya talk about how she gets comfort from her pet cats when she's feeling low>>
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 Self Soothe Box Worksheet created by a young person (17 years) talking about what is in her self-soothe box-
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.
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. Click here to hear Cassie (young person) share her views about the importance of balance>>
Young people we spoke to about emotional wellbeing compared this to a banking system. to compared this to a “Banking System”. Click here to listen to James (18) talk about this more>>
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.