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How can I improve my mental health? Top 10 tips for young people

  • 1 Stay connected +

    Maintaining healthy relationships is very important in maintaining wellbeing. We can all support family & friends in different ways. No matter how close or far you live from one another, you can stay in touch in a variety of ways. Whether it be by phone, video calls, email or social media, don’t be afraid to ask for support or to offer it to others.

    The charity Mind recommends the following advice as part of their ‘5 ways to wellbeing’:

    ‘There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.

    It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
    With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.

    • Talk to someone instead of sending an email
    • Speak to someone new
    • Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
    • Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
    • Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them.’

    Click here for full details of Mind’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing
    https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/

  • 2 Talk about your worries +

    Whatever you are worrying about, it always helps to talk, even though it may not seem like it at the time.
    Getting another’s opinion on a solution or just knowing there are other people out there that perhaps are worrying about the same things that we are can help both yourself & them. If you feel that there is no-one you can talk to in your trusted circle there is plenty of confidential support out there either online or by telephone.

    Need more help finding someone to talk to?

    These are some links to websites with young people in mind. They have different ways of accessing someone to talk to such as text, phone or online chat:

     
     
     
  • 3 Look after your mind & body +

    How we physically feel can affect our mental health. 

    Sometimes we can feel ourselves falling into unhealthy patterns of behaviour as a coping strategy. Eating healthy well balanced meals & drinking plenty of water, along with exercising regularly can really help us to feel better about ourselves. Exercise could be done with the whole household turning it into more of a fun, social activity.

    Need more help planning to be more active?

    This website is good for giving advice on how to get started: https://www.themix.org.uk/your-body/fitness-and-diet/help-i-want-to-get-fit-30208.html

    Check out this website for the charity Mind’s 5 ways to get moving and feel better: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/physical-activity-and-your-mental-health/about-physical-activity/

  • 4 Stay on top of difficult feelings +

    Don’t feel like you have to be happy all the time - it is ok to not be ok! However, it is important to recognise that in order to improve the situation, it is you who must take action to make a change, however small those first changes may be.
    Modern life can be tough and you may feel that things are out of control. This, in turn, can make you anxious. Rather than worrying about what you can’t control, concentrate on areas that you have control over; for example, who you talk to, what information you choose to take onboard and how you act.

    Need more help managing overwhelming feelings?

    The charity Young Minds provides some useful information on a wide range of issues that may be causing worry and distress here:
    https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/coping-with-life/

  • 5 Do things you enjoy +

    Doing things we enjoy can give us a focus on something positive.
    Challenge yourself to try out some new activities and seek to develop a hobby. Some obvious starting points would be baking (you could try finding healthy snacks to cook) or learning something new, like a language, sewing, or getting stuck into arts and crafts.

    Need some ideas?

    Place2Be has some suggestions on how you can get creative: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/sessions
    The New York Times explores how to find a hobby here: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/how-to-find-a-hobby

  • 6 Keep routines +

    Routines can help to structure our day & thoughts.

    Many things such as the times of the school day, lessons and meal times provide structure to the day. When not in school, it can be tempting to allow these timings to alter, however it can really help to have a fairly fixed routine for meals, getting up and going to bed. It certainly makes the return to school harder if you let these slip over the holidays!

    Being organised can also help to gather your thoughts. The old saying “tidy home - tidy mind” is something to think about; be it a tidy desk, organised day or reorganised room.

  • 7 Find time to relax +

    Relaxing can be hard when you are stressed and worrying about so many different things. But it is crucial to find some time for yourself in order to look after your wellbeing.
    Take a bath instead of a shower, or find time to read a book; it is important that whatever we choose to do we keep focused and block out distractions. If you are watching a film for example, put your phone out of reach and avoid needing to leave the room to get snacks by being prepared beforehand. Go out for a walk, perhaps to the park or sea front & just sit taking in your surroundings.

    Need more help managing your worries?

    For more information, watch the video here (scroll down to the video called ‘The Worry Tree’)
    https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/youth-mental-health/

    Mind has a good guide on how to take time out and why it is so important:
    https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/coping-with-life/take-time-out/

  • 8 Get enough sleep +

    How we sleep makes a big difference to how we feel. 

    Maintaining your usual sleeping pattern if you think that it works, ask yourself... ‘I sleep but it is enough & of good quality?’ Be honest!

    If you feel it isn’t then think about what you can do differently an hour before you sleep. Do you watch tv or spend time looking at your phone? Perhaps you could read or listen to some music instead. How much physical activity are you getting? These things might need to be addressed to improve your sleep hygiene. 

    Need more help with sleep?

    How to fall asleep and sleep better:
    https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-how-to-fall-asleep-and-sleep-better/

    How to cope with sleep problems:
    https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/sleep-problems/about-sleep-and-mental-health/

  • 9 Limit time watching the news and social media +

    There is plenty for us to worry about in the wider world. Do you find yourself constantly checking the latest news or eternally scrolling through social media posts?
    Limit the time you spend on social media, perhaps turn off the news alerts on your phone and give yourself a designated time that is for checking your phone as part of the routine in your day. This could help reduce your anxieties and give you more time to relax or do other things you enjoy.

    Need more help managing your social media concerns?

    For more information, watch the video here (Scroll down to the video called ‘Self-care and Social Media’)
    https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/youth-mental-health/

  • 10 Be kind to yourself +

    We all have negative thoughts from time to time; it is important to remember that nobody is perfect and we need to realise we all have our boundaries & limits. There is nothing wrong in saying, “Do you know what, I can’t do this right now” and do whatever it is later when you are in a different frame of mind.

    Look for the positives in each day and at what you have achieved rather than what didn’t get done.

    Persevere. If you are struggling, take a break, evaluate the situation, look at where you may have gone wrong then try again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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Parent advice - supporting young people’s mental health

Life has its natural peaks and troughs when it comes to our wellbeing; it is a normal part of the human condition to be lower in mood at certain points or anxious about things looming on our horizon. However, if you are concerned about sustained low mood and significant changes to someone’s mental health, there are steps you can take to help.

Where should I start?

Read this advice for young people struggling with initial presentations of low-mood or stress.

How can I improve my mental health? Top 10 tips for young people (above)

Read the advice for young people above together; consider how you can make some changes for them or with them, and take a look at some of the links to delve deeper into some of the issues.

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