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Coronavirus: Self care and wellbeing advice for young people

Protect your mental health and emotional wellbeing

During this time of uncertainty and recommendations to distance yourself from others, you may worry about how you will cope.

Below are a few ideas about how you can protect your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

If you are in need of urgent mental health care, call the Crisis Team on 0191 5665500 or free on 111.

  1. Print this information and activity sheets
  2. Talking about and sharing your feelings
  3. Ways to be kind to yourself
  4. Five ways to wellbeing 
  5. My wellbeing planner 
  6. Square breathing 
  7. The here and now
  8. Self-talk
  9. Changing our thoughts 
  10. Worry lists
  11. Circle of control
  12. What we do can also have an influence on how we feel
  13. What is important to you?
  14. Parent notes - winning ways to wellbeing
  15. Online resources

Print this information and activity sheets

To print the information on this page, including the activity sheets to complete at home, download the Young people self care and wellbeing advice3.57MB.

Talking about and sharing your feelings

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 

  1. Connect - enjoy connecting with others (within your household or virtually), find out something new
  2. Be active - Being physically active can improve your mood, go for a walk or learn a new dance
  3. Give - how can you help others? How about writing a letter to a relative?
  4. Keep learning - what have you always wanted to learn or try? Now is your opportunity.
  5. 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.

Square breathing 

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

Self-talk

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

Challenging questions 

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.

Worry lists

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.

  1. Connect - talk and listen be there feel connected
  2. Give - your time, your words, your presence
  3. Take notice - remember the simple things that give you joy
  4. Keep learning - embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
  5. 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.

Online resources

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.com where young people can register and others can find out more about the service.

There are lots of helpful links that you may find useful, for example MindEd for families.

You may find that you are struggling with your own mental health or emotional wellbeing, you can access support for yourself by visiting www.southtynesidelifecyclementalhealth.nhs.uk

There are further online resources that you can access such as living life to the full.

If you feel that your child requires a personal intervention or access to internet therapy, please call South Tyneside Lifecycle Talking Therapies on 0191 2832937to discuss this further.

If your child is experiencing mental health crisis requiring immediate response from the Crisis Team, please telephone 0191 5665500.

For more information visit Young people mental health.

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