Tips for supporting mental health during unsettling times.


I felt it might be helpful to quickly blog some tips for use in the classroom with young people who might be worried about what leaving the EU means for them, as well as for ourselves for looking after our own mental health during these somewhat unsettling times for our country.

Tip #1 Connect with the people you love.  Feeling connected, loving and being loved help us feel happy. Hug your family, invite a mate over for a cuppa (and a rant if needed), phone a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Perhaps its even time to extend your circle and make some new friends? Just connect! This is particularly important if some of the people you love voted differently to how you did. As Jo Cox said we have #moreincommon than that which divides us so its time for all of us to reinforce our connections.

Tip #2 Get the self care basics right– food, exercise and sleep can all affect how we feel about things. If overhauling all of these seems too much right now, how about just getting an early night tonight? If you stayed up all night watching the referendum you will probably need to catch up on some sleep!

Tip #3 Connect with nature. Step outside and listen to the birds sing, watch a squirrel dart up a tree, smell the grass just after the rain, feel the sun on your skin. Our green and pleasant land is still just that despite whatever is going on politically. Make sure you take the time to get out there and enjoy it.

Tip #4 Take breaks from the internet and the news. Nothing is going to happen immediately, and unfortunately the ensuing consequences of this decision are going to go on for years and years. We are early days into this and sadly clicking refresh won’t help your anxiety levels and unfortunately won’t change anything for the moment.  This is the one I find the hardest to follow myself but I hope by writing it down I might try harder to stick to it!

Tip #5 Aim for positive but boundaried activism – There are so many feelings around a result like this. Think of things you might want to get involved in locally or politically that will help you feel more engaged in your community and beyond as feeling like you are doing something to make a positive difference can really help you feel better about things. However, that comes with the caveat that you have to put your own mental health first, and if something becomes too much or too draining for you on a personal level it is fine and important for you to be selfish and take a step back.

Tip #6 Develop your own toolkit of mental health support strategies that work for you. For me, writing is therapeutic (insert obligatory plug for book here), hence me writing this blogpost right now, but I also know that I find things like mosaic making, colouring in, card making and knitting very therapeutic activities (and need to find time to do more of them!). Jot a list of the best therapeutic activities that work for you. One young person I work with has a self care box in which she keeps a pen, note paper, some emergency chocolate, her favorite blanket, her favourite smells and a letter from her nan that makes her smile.What would be in a self care box for you?

 

What other tips would you include to help us all look after ourselves and each other during these unsettling times?

I have also written this list into a young people friendly version for use in the classroom available here:

Tips for supporting mental health during unsettling times

 

For info: for the last year I have been working with groups of young people across Somerset developing tips (or as the Yoof decided to call them- LifeHacks) around supporting their own mental health and their friends mental health. They get launched in July so I will be able to share them then (can’t wait as they are BRILLIANT if I say so myself!) but in meantime I hope the list above might help. 

 

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