Looking after yourself

There are lots of things that you can do to keep yourself well, or to help you feel better if you feel as though things are getting you down. These are just suggestions so think about what will work for you.

Things to do

Exercise

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.

Sport and excercise advice from ChildLine

Physical activity and mental health advice from RCPsych

Physical activity guidelines for children and young people – NHS Choices

Healthy eating

Again, 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.

Teen Weightwise

Lincolnshire Healthy Teens

Stopping smoking

Smoking seems to be more common amongst people with mental health problems. People sometimes say that they have taken up smoking as a way to cope with stress, but actually it can make you feel worse in the long run. Nicotine is a stimulant, similar to caffeine, so it can stop you from sleeping and poor sleep can make you feel irritable, anxious or low. This is a link to an interesting document about smoking and mental health written by ASH (Action on smoking and health)

If you would like help to stop smoking you can go to Quit 51 or try Lincolnshire Healthy Teens website for more info.

Sleeping well

We all need sleep. It helps our brains to make sense of the things we have been doing and get ready for the next day, and our bodies need a chance to rest. Having trouble getting to sleep or waking too early or in the middle of the night can be a sign that you have something on your mind. Poor sleep can lead to feeling more anxious, low in mood, and can mean that you can’t concentrate properly at school. If you would like to improve your sleep pattern have a look at TeenSleep website

Activities that 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. If that is too daunting you can volunteer on-line from home (in your pyjamas if you like) by microvolunteering. Look at the section on research studies at Help from Home.

Things to think about

Keeping track of things and taking control

It can be easy to feel swamped as a teenager. There is so much happening that can be stressful: school, coursework, exams, bullies, on-line social networks, relationships, becoming independent from your family. During the teenage years your body is changing physically and your identity is changing. It is a time where you are in-between the world of a child to the world of an adult. Your brain is also going through huge changes and won’t be fully mature until your twenties. It can feel as though you are not in control of anything. There are things that you can do though.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, try keeping track of things. You could write in a diary or keep notes on a phone, or keep a video blog for yourself. Or you could just find someone that you trust and talk to them.

If that doesn’t suit you, would it help if you were more organised? Can you keep track of what you need to do on your phone or in a planner?

Or do you over-think things? Do you need to make time to distract yourself?- doing sport, meeting up with friends, and watching a film or listening to music can take your mind off things.

Mindfulness

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.

NHS Choices – mindfulness information

Free to listen and download relaxation and mindfulness sequences from LPFT steps2change service on our SoundCloud Channel

A growing collection of free-to-download mindfulness meditation exercises – www.freemindfulness.org

Relaxation

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 No Panic’s Relaxation Technique or  the NHS Guided imagery relaxation

People who can help

Having a network of supportive people around us is really important. Sometimes it can seem as though our relationships get forgotten about because other things get in the way. If you have noticed that things don’t seem to be going well with someone, let them know and think what you can both do to get things back on track. If you need help or are worried about something find someone you trust to talk to.

Friends

We all know that having supportive friends and spending time with them makes us feel good but it sometimes isn’t easy to make and keep friends and bullying can be a huge problem. When someone has been bullied they may struggle to make new friends due to feeling worried that the same thing will happen again. If you need it, get help with building up your confidence – ask an adult you trust or look at Childline website

Think about how to widen your social network so that you can meet people your age who are similar to you or share interests, for example by joining a club or taking part in a sport.

Family

If you think you need a bit of time to talk with one of your parents let them know that. Ask him or her to make some time for you without interruptions. Parent often feel that they are losing touch with their teenage children and don’t know how to approach them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t care. And don’t worry about upsetting your parents. Most parents will be relieved that you feel able to speak to them.
You might not feel like talking though, and if you want to, just let them know that you want to spend a bit of time together without talking about your problems. It is good to do this by planning things that you both like doing eg watching something on TV or having a pamper session or gaming session or baking.
Sometimes brothers and sisters are great at being a friend and supporter, but sometimes it can be difficult to get along. Again, try to find things that you enjoy that you can do together and make time for this. Or, speak to your parents if you need someone to make sure that things get sorted out fairly.

Teachers

If you can’t talk to anyone at home and you need to talk to an adult, ask to speak to a teacher who you trust. Or you may need to speak to a teacher because of an issue at school such as bullying or problems with your work.

If you’re 11 – 16 years old you can also TEXT your school nurse on 07507 331620.  They can help with all kinds of things like mental health, bullying, self-harm, alcohol, smoking, sex and relationships.

Helplines

Whatever it is, let someone else know if there is something happening that you can’t deal with yourself, and if you can’t talk to an adult you know, call a helpline such as Childline on 0800 1111.

Getting more help

The below websites give more information about all these topics:

www.childline.org.uk

www.youngminds.org.uk

https://kooth.com

If your problems are becoming too severe to manage with support from people around you, a teacher, nurse or your doctor can refer you to CAMHS.

What to do if you or someone you know is being abused – please contact NSPCC or go to Lincolnshire County Council Family Services Directory

Stay Safe On-line

Stay safe online – Do you know how to stay safe on-line? Go to www.childnet.com/young-people for great advice and videos