HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

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Top tips for Anxiety

Self Care

Self-care refers to the things that we can do ourselves to look after our mental health and wellbeing.  We’ve put some ideas together to get you thinking about what you can do to look after yourself.  Anything that makes you feel happy, calm, relaxed or joyful can help with your self-care.  When we practice regular self-care, we are less likely to experience stress overload from the daily stressors we face.

We are all different and what works for some of us won’t work for others. The good news is that there are many options when it comes to self-care activities, so give some of these a try and see how you get on.

Listening To Music

listening to music can help to manage your feelings in several different ways: Listening to music you know you enjoy to help improve your mood Listening to music really loudly to release built up tension/anger Listening to music similar to the emotion you’re feeling to release pent up emotions Listening to music that is the opposite to what your feeling e.g Calming music when you are feeling anxious to help soothe yourself Make yourself a playlist based on different moods or check out something like Spotify and try their moods playlists.

Take a warm bath

Lots of people find taking a warm bath is something that allows them to relax and take a break from the ‘outside world’ for a bit. Why not try buying a bath bomb or putting a few drops of essentials oils in it to go the extra mile. Others also enjoy playing some music, an audiobook or relaxing sounds while they take their bath. Just remember not to have any technology close to the water.

Spend time with supportive people

We all need people in our lives we can turn to when we’re struggling, whether for a deep discussion or just a chat. It can take the pressure off of needing to seem ‘okay’ just for a little bit because you know you can trust them. This could be a friend, family member, teacher or mentor- it doesn’t matter as long as you feel safe and able to be real with them. Sometimes we just need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, other times advice can be really helpful. If you feel that you don’t have anyone supportive that you can talk to at the moment please contact us and we can put in touch with one of our amazing mentors.

Watch a movie, TV, Youtube videos

Some people find doing something like watching YouTube videos, TV series or films really helps them to relax or keep distracted when they are struggling. There are many reasons why you might find this useful: Watching comedy/something funny can help to distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings If you’re feeling sad, watching a soppy film, or angry watching an action film. Sometimes allowing yourself to feel the emotion you are experiencing and even having a good cry can really help you to feel better. Watching a video that is the complete opposite of how you are feeling can cheer you up or give you a break for a bit.

Read a book

Reading can be a source of comfort an can also help you to ‘escape’ for a little while. You could try something like this: Go back to a book you’ve read before that was particularly good or felt really comforting Read a Fantasy or Science Fiction book to completely escape from your mind for a bit Find a self-help or psychology book on a topic you’re particularly struggling with at the moment Why not try visiting your local library or school library and checking out some of the self-help books or spend time just browsing and finding something that interests you.

Go for a walk/Get active

Getting outside into the fresh air can make us feel better. It’s been proven that just getting outside and looking up at the sky can improve our mood. Taking some time to walk, just for the sake of walking, and without thinking too much about where you’re going or why, can be an act of self-care. If you go alone, it’s a type of walking that is just for you and time spent only on yourself – although it’s important to make sure you’re safe, too. Take notice of the sights and sounds around you and enjoy the open spaces. Walking with friends or people you are close to you can help as well, as it gives you a space to talk that doesn’t feel too claustrophobic or pressured. Exercise doesn’t have to involve going to the gym! Anything that gets you moving and makes you feel better will help with your self-care. You could get really active and ride a bike or go for a run or you might just play some music and dance around your bedroom!

Spend time with animals or pets

Lots of people find spending time with animals a really fun and soothing way to help their mental health. This could be playing with or stroking a pet or visiting a local farm, zoo or pet shop. A lot of people find it very calming whilst also helping them to get away from their usual thoughts. If you don't have a pet or know anyone you can pet-sit for, why not consider volunteering for a local rescue centre?  Not only will you get to spend time with animals but you'll gain new skills which you can add to your CV and may help improve your confidence!

Do yoga

Lots of people say that yoga has helped them with their mental health. On a physical level, there is evidence to suggest that it calms your nervous system, making you feel more relaxed and less anxious. By doing yoga you are actively deciding to take care of your body, which may also help promote healthy eating and exercise habits and improve your sense of self-worth Many of the moves, such as the Warrior pose, are uplifting and empowering, and could help to not only release knots or tension, but improve confidence. You can find information about yoga on the NHS website and try yoga out for free on YouTube. 

Try meditation

Meditation is designed to help train attention and awareness, and promotes mental health and wellbeing. Lots of people also find that meditation helps them regulate their breathing, which can help to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression or pain and increased feelings of wellbeing, peace and self-perception. At the very least, it can encourage you to take time out for yourself. A quick mindfulness meditation involves breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds and then breathing out for four seconds. You can also try steady deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth for longer than when you breathe in, which can particularly help if you’re trying to fall asleep or calm yourself down.  Look for one of the free online apps or on Youtube for beginners guides to meditation.

Talk to someone on the phone

Telephone support allows you to express verbally what you’re feeling or going through. Sometimes voicing your problems out loud helps you to understand them better, and hearing a kind or supportive voice on the other end of the phone can be really reassuring. You might like to speak to friends or family members on the phone, but if it’s late at night or you’re not sure who to call, charities such as the Samaritans (116 123) or Childline (0800 1111) can be contacted 24/7 and won’t show up on your phone history, in case you want to keep it confidential that you called them. It can be really useful to hear an impartial opinion, and you may find that you can reveal more about how you’re feeling, knowing that the person on the other end of the phone has no preconceptions or judgements to make about your situation. 

Get enough sleep

Balanced sleep is really important for good mental health but it can also be a really useful self-care tool for when you just need a break and to get away from your thoughts and situation for a bit. The Mental Health foundation have created ten top tips to getting good sleep. There are also lots of different meditations and visualisation's free on YouTube, designed to help you fall asleep. There are also free NHS apps which may help you if you're experiencing poor sleep.

Write in a journal

Writing things down, by using a journal or a diary, can help you to defuse a situation that you have kept inside you. For some people using journals is a way of sharing difficult feelings or expressing words that they would not be able to say out loud. Others use journals to track their mental health, highlighting the good days and the bad so that they learn more about themselves and their mental health.  Sometimes people use paper journals, or others use blogs or their social media to let it out. There are many websites that can give you advice on how to journal.

Self-talk

Talk to yourself as you would to your best friend! Sometimes the things we say or think about ourselves can be very negative or critical and aren’t things we’d say to a friend or loved one. Practicing positive self-talk can help increase our self-confidence and curb the negative or harmful thought patterns that bring us down. It can be done by saying positive things to yourself out loud, possibly in the mirror, or simply by rewording some of your thoughts so that they exhibit more self-compassion: Think about all the positive things that your family, friends and teachers say about you and start by repeating these to yourself in the morning or evening. Remember that you are unique and this is a reason to celebrate – nobody is as good at being you than you!

Creative writing

Creative writing can be an amazing way of expressing the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing. Some people find that it helps them realise how they’re feeling about a particular situation if they write it into a story, because they empathise more with the character in the story than with themselves. Or maybe you could try writing a poem or even a song! There are lots of creative writing groups around where you can meet up and discuss all things writing. There are also online groups you could try.

Laugh

They say that laughter is the best medicine. Having a laugh can help people feel better, and, naturally, different people have different senses of humour, from making silly puns to being sarcastic. A lot of people find that a shared sense of humour is something that bonds them or that learning what makes each other laugh brings them closer together. Whether it’s because of a funny story, memory, tv show, video or something completely random, laughing is known to lower blood pressure and release endorphins that help make you happy.

Relaxation techniques

There are lots of different kinds of relaxation techniques that you can try out. Lots of people find these helpful particularly when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious. Relaxation techniques are also often recommended in a lot of therapies. A few different types of relaxation techniques are: Slowing down your breathing Progressive Muscle Relaxation Guided Visualisation  Repeating Mantras to yourself (e.g I can handle whatever comes my way) There are lots of free relaxation apps you can try. Just find something that works for you.

Take a break from technology

Sometimes technology and social media can be a lifeline but sometimes they can be completely overwhelming and it feels like notifications and messages are never ending. When we feel like we are constantly attached to everyone and everything that is happening in the wider world it can become exhausting.  That’s one of the reasons why lots of people find time away from social media a really important part of their daily self-care (even if it does feel weird at first!) Try allowing yourself an hour away from it at first (an hour before bedtime is particularly good as it will also help you to sleep better)

Volunteering/taking care of others

For lots of people, volunteering, or regularly dedicating a specific amount of time to focus purely on another person or cause, can be a useful distraction technique when they are feeling anxious or low. When you know you’ve helped someone, it can feel really satisfying and remind you of things you are good at which you may have forgotten about.  This could be something small like making a cup of tea for a family member or something bigger like starting a new voluntary job. If you would like to try volunteering, think about things you really like or enjoy – animals, talking to people, physical work and find something that suits you. There are lots of voluntary organisations out there who would love your help and support.

Drawing or painting

Many people find that spending time on artistic activities, such as drawing and painting, can be soothing. Being creative is an opportunity to express difficult thoughts and emotions that can’t otherwise be put into words, gaining more insights on what you’ve been through or are going through. Some have said that art helps them to focus on the present moment, helping them focus on how they’re feeling and experience connections between their emotions and body. If you don’t feel that you’re particularly good at drawing or painting, there are some great ‘mindful’ colouring books out there.

Have some alone time

Have you ever felt as if you are just fed up of people, humans, mankind everywhere? Us too! Most of us find being with others can be just what we need at times, but we also need our space and alone time once in a while. What you do during that time is up to you. Do something creative or arty, write, play on your Xbox or just take a nice bath or shower and listen to some music. There’s loads of possibilities, just make sure you can relax and get a breather for a bit.
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