Mental Health and Wellbeingyoung boy showing he is happy and well

There is no doubt that we are currently experiencing a moment in time that we will never forget. For millennials especially, adjusting to this new lifestyle is a huge challenge. Take a look at our blog below that shares our top tips on how we can help children and young people manage their mental health during this unprecedented time in history.

It is no surprise that in the face of current uncertainty, we are all experiencing a huge range of emotions right now. Whilst we are being asked to adjust to the monumental changes happening across the world, it can be more difficult to find joy and keep our sense of self when our day-to-day life has shifted so drastically and quickly. It is important that we aim to help children and adolescents try and reframe the uncertainty and anxiety that so many of us are facing right now, so that we can all find some gratitude and adjust to our new normal.

Firstly, children and young people need to be reminded that no one should feel ashamed for anything they are feeling right now, and everyone will be feeling different. If they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, we encourage they take a moment to pause, do something for themselves and bring themselves back to the present. 

Take a look at some practical tips we have put together that you can use with children and young people to support this reflection:

Supporting Mental Health during Coronavirus

COMPASSION

It has never been more important to encourage people to be kind to themselves. Times are different, so it’s okay to live differently. The change we are experiencing is challenging, so we need to accept that and be patient and gentle with ourselves. One way to practice this, is to set small achievable goals each morning. Making sure these goals are realistic but allowing ourselves to feel a sense of accomplishment in achieving something small every day, for example ensuring you have a healthy breakfast or writing down 5 positive things about yourself on Post-It-Notes.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

This is a really helpful tool to shift perspective on life. A good way to approach this is to keep a journal of positive thoughts and take some time every day to write down 3 things you are grateful for. For example, something that made you smile that day, someone special that you appreciate in your life, or the delicious breakfast you might have made that morning.

STICK TO A ROUTINE

It is beneficial to write a plan for the day each morning and get excited for the day ahead. Set an alarm at the same time in the morning and treat weekdays like normal school days. Scheduling in time to work, exercise, eat and do something fun they enjoy, but remembering to take a break when feeling stressed. Set a phone reminder to take a break when feeling overwhelmed.

TAKE A BREAK TO DO SOMETHING FUN

This relies on monitoring how you feel each day and knowing when you need a break. Everyone needs a part of their day to focus on doing something fun, for example, listening to a favourite playlist on Spotify, watching TV or taking some time to read an uplifting book. Finding an activity that is something to really look forward to.

STAYING CONNECTED

It is very important to talk to someone you know and trust about your worries and concerns. It is okay to be feeling overwhelmed or upset about all the change – sometimes we just need to let it out. It is also a great time to stay connected with your friends – plan a zoom meet up or online quiz in the evening.

EXERCISE

Staying active is a fantastic way to manage mental health. Everyone should try and find a form of exercise that they love, whether that’s getting out in nature and going for a run or practicing yoga in your bedroom. There are lots of at home workouts available to join live, or practice in your own time. Friends can join the same class and get together to get endorphins going!

DOING SOMETHING CREATIVE

Finding something creative that you really enjoy has a calming effect on the mind and body. This could be baking a new recipe from Instagram, taking some time to start painting or practicing mindfulness colouring.

BEING PRESENT

It is really important to try being aware of when thoughts are spiralling out of control so that you can bring them back to the present. Turning off social media and the news to take a few moments to focus on the present moment has never been more essential. One way to practice being present is to do a mindful body scan, take a few deep breaths, mindful breaths. Notice the way your breath enters and exits your lungs, focus your attention on one part of your body at a time and really notice how each part feels.

FOCUSING ON BREATH, RELAXATION TOOLS

One example we suggest is to try left and right breathing for 5 minutes. This involves taking a really deep breath in, all the way up your spine filling the left side of your body. Then breathing out through the right side of your body. Repeating this slowly, alternating between the right and left side of your body. Being aware of your spine and grounding yourself. Another way to practice this is to do a short meditation, to give our brains a rest and re-set your mindset

FOCUS ON SELF-CARE

Whilst it is tempting, of course, to sleep in, we recommend at least in weekdays to start the day as if you were going to school or doing an activity. Starting the day by getting up at a fixed time, getting dressed and eating a wholesome breakfast. This will start your day with a sense of achievement from the start. Look after your personal hygiene and appearance. Maybe try styling / changing your hair to help you to feel good. For example, we suggest, asking yourself, how am I feeling today? Try not to compare yourself to others but focus on yourself and acknowledge how well (even if in little ways) you are adjusting to your new normal.

CHALLENGING UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS

It may be helpful to say to yourself ‘I am safe at home’ instead of ‘I am stuck at home’. Also try to differentiate between helpful and unhelpful thoughts, encouraging more supportive thoughts. For example, is life ever going to be normal again? Yes, life will continue, this is only temporary, I should try and use this time to learn something new about myself.

It may be helpful to write down a list what you can and can’t control during this time. This helps you stay resilient and be kind to yourself. Focusing on the things you CAN CONTROL(however small) will help generate more healthier thoughts and feelings.

MY COPING TOOLS

Times like these can be testing for everyone; therefore, it is a really important time to focus on mental health. It is vital that we take some time for ourselves each day and remember this is only temporary. We have set out some practical ideas to try. Now try to fill out your own personal coping strategy that you feel will be the most effective in your day to day life. Everyone is facing an individual challenge and it is important that you are focusing on your personal journey and not comparing themselves to peers.