Everyone feels anxious, worried or scared at times.
During these times it is important to take notice of your feelings.
The information below contains advice and activities to help you manage your feelings and wellbeing.
Ways to be kind to yourself
Accept what is in your control
Notice your thoughts - Do you speak kindly to yourself?
Treat yourself like you would treat a friend
Forgive yourself - we all get things wrong and have off days
Enjoy the good days
Accept who you are and your worries
Set yourself a time to worry each day
Five ways to wellbeing
Connect - enjoy connecting with others (within your household or virtually), find out something new
Be active - Being physically active can improve your mood, go for a walk or learn a new dance
Give - how can you help others? How about writing a letter to a relative?
Keep learning - what have you always wanted to learn or try? Now is your opportunity.
Take notice - take a breath! Relax and look around
My wellbeing planner
Make a wellbeing planner to help you plan the activities you want to do.
Get a piece of paper and divide it into eight sections
Write out the days of the week in each section - eg Monday in one section, Tuesday in the next and so on.
Leave a section for notes
Use the five ways to wellbeing to plan some activities into your week.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, breathing exercises can help us relax.
Lots of people find it helpful to use breathing techniques. Here is one for you to try:
Breathe in for 4 and use your finger to draw a square as you breathe.
Breathe in for 1... 2... 3... 4
Hold for 1... 2... 3... 4
Breathe out for 1... 2... 3... 4
Hold for 1... 2... 3... 4
The here and now
This following exercise will also help you to focus on the 'here and now' if you are feeling overwhelmed. Keeping the same rhythm as square breathing, as you breathe think about the following (it's harder than you think!):
Five things you can see
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell
One thing you can taste
You may have never paid attention to it, but if you are feeling sad, worried or anxious, it is important to focus on your 'self-talk'. Once we pay attention to this we become more aware of how we are talking to ourselves.
Sometimes our self-talk is unhelpful, for example 'I'm missing all of my friends'.
Sometimes it is helpful, for example 'I can talk to them on the phone for now and we will be able to meet up again'.
These negative or unhelpful thoughts usually happen when we are worried or nervous about a situation.
When we are feeling ready for a challenge, we are more likely to have positive and helpful thoughts.
Once we recognise the helpful and unhelpful thoughts in our self-talk it is much easier to control them, and our worry.
Write down your self talk
On a piece of paper write down some of your unhelpful and helpful thoughts.
Your thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all connected.
The way we think about a situation affects our feelings.
This then affects our behaviour, for example, if we think we are going to fail a test, we feel more worried about it and are more likely to make mistakes or not prepare enough.
Traffic light system
It might be helpful to think of your thoughts as the colours of a traffic light.
Red - unhelpful thoughts
Amber - thought challenging
Green - helpful thoughts
Changing our thoughts
We can take control of our thoughts. Red thoughts can make us anxious or sad; however, if we choose a green thought we wouldn't feel as worried and be more confident about the situation.
On a piece of paper try writing down your own unhelpful self-talk and change them into helpful self-talk:
write down unhelpful thoughts and then helpful thoughts
write down unhelpful feelings and then helpful feelings
write down unhelpful behaviour and then helpful feelings
When we have unhelpful thoughts it can be useful to ask ourselves these questions:
Would my friend think like this?
What evidence is there?
Does this thought help?
Is it likely to happen?
Think of these challenging questions as the amber on the traffic lights, helping us change our unhelpful thoughts to more helpful thoughts.
Just like unhelpful thoughts, worry is a normal process and we all worry.
For some people, worrying can interfere with their everyday life and stop them doing the things they want to do.
Some worries are about things that are definitely going to happen, like a test or a trip.
Some worries are about things that are very unlikely to happen but unless we challenge these worries they can seem more likely.
The first step to tackling worries is to notice them. Lots of people find it helpful to list their worries into worries about things that are definitely going to happen, and things that are very unlikely to happen.
On a piece of paper write down:
Worries that might happen
Worries that will probably never happen
A plan to fight these worries
Remind yourself that really bad things don't often happen
Circle of control
When our worries aren't real ones that can't be problem solved, it might help to think about the circle of control. Most things in life that we worry about are things we cannot control. We are more likely to find an answer to the problem if we focus on things that are within our control.
Make your own circle of control:
Draw a big circle
Inside that circle, draw another smaller circle
In the big circle write down things you can't control
In the small circle write down things you can control
What we do can also have an influence on how we feel
We've all had times when we have felt down and not wanted to do anything. It can be very easy to allow ourselves to fall into this way of thinking. Have you ever found yourself in a bad mood but been convinced to do something anyway?
Try and recall such a time and write it down.
Now, think about how you felt before and after the activity.
Write down how you felt before for example, annoyed, down or tired
write down how you felt after for example, happy pleased
Was there a difference? Did the initial feelings remain? Did completing the above activity affect your feelings for the better?
Chances are, you got so caught up in the activity that you were able to forget about how you were feeling before. Or maybe you didn't forget, but by pushing yourself to carry on with things you felt a sense of pride or accomplishment.
This may include doing things with friends or family, learning musical instruments or putting your efforts into schoolwork.
Write a list of activities
This list will look different for everybody, but the important thing is that you use your time to do things which you value. By doing this you increase your chances of getting more out of life, resulting in a sense of achievement and fulfillment, and improving your sense of general well-being.
Even if you find yourself stuck in the house you can apply these same principles. See below a list of some activities that you could do for inspiration.
Keep in touch with friends. Use social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facetime or Zoom to set up video calls with several people at once.
Learn something new. Maybe you've always wanted to learn how to play the piano or speak Italian.
Cooking. An enjoyable activity AND you get to eat the outcome. Win - Win.
Sort out your cupboards/de-clutter. Getting rid of things you don't need can feel surprisingly therapeutic.
Write a list of as many home based activities that you can think of.
What is important to you?
Have a think about what is important to you.
Draw a big circle
In that circle draw a smaller circle
Draw another smaller circle in the second circle
Fill in that circle, starting with those things which are most important at the centre, working outwards.
How many of the things you have recorded do you do regularly? Do you have time to do more of these things? It may be helpful to plan some of these things into your routine for the week or two ahead.
What we know is that even the act of planning something and writing it down means we are more likely to hold ourselves to account and actually do it. This can help us to accomplish those things which we know we should do but find it hard to motivate ourselves to get started.
Parent notes - winning ways to wellbeing
The five ways to wellbeing are a set of evidence based actions which promote young people's emotional wellbeing. Evidence shows us that if we do the following five Winning ways to wellbeing listed above, wellbeing will be influenced positively.
Connect - talk and listen be there feel connected
Give - your time, your words, your presence
Take notice - remember the simple things that give you joy
Keep learning - embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
Be active - do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
Introduce these five simple strategies into your life and you will feel the benefits.
Kooth provides a safe and secure means of accessing mental health and wellbeing support designed specifically for young people.
The online resource offers young people the opportunity to have a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. Counsellors are available from 12noon to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10pm at weekends, every day of the year on a drop-in basis.
Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed. Outside of counselling hours young people can message our team and get support by the next day.
When students register with Kooth they will have support available to them now and in the future. Support can be gained not only through counselling but articles, forums and discussion boards. All content is age appropriate, clinically approved and fully moderated.
To find out more visit www.Kooth.comwhere young people can register and others can find out more about the service.