Mental Health and Wellbeing. 

 
Information here can be found on a number of different topics surrounding mental health and wellbeing. Click on each topic to see an overview of what each one is and see some useful tips including some links to external sites. 
 
Use the menu bar below to navigate to your chosen area.

FOOD AND YOUR MOOD

Food and drink can have a massive impact on your mental and physical well being, there is a short video from Mind on the ways food can help you manage your mood and below you can find a little more information on this.

As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes – changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet.

By eating a varied and balanced diet as shown in the Eatwell Guide, you should be able to get all the energy and nutrients you need from the food and drink you consume, allowing your body to grow and develop properly.

Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.

If you’re watching your weight, a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go. Dieting, skipping breakfast or starving yourself don’t work.

Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily from the NHS

Don’t skip breakfast

Skipping meals won’t help you lose weight and isn’t good for you, because you can miss out on important nutrients. Having breakfast will help you get some of the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. Try our healthy breakfast ideas.

Get your 5 A Day

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs during your teenage years. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Find out what counts as 5 A Day.

Healthier snack ideas

Cut down on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, such as sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary fizzy drinks and crisps, which are high in calories (energy). Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and becoming overweight. Get tips on eating less sugarfat and salt.

Stay hydrated

Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids a day – water and lower-fat milk are both healthy choices.

Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies shouldn’t be more than 150ml a day – which is a small glass.

For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you’ll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.

Feeling tired?

If you often feel run down, you may be low on iron. Teenage girls are especially at risk because they lose iron during their period. Try to get your iron from a variety of foods. Some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread. Find out more in iron deficiency.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it’s also available in some foods. Find out more about getting vitamin D.

Calcium

Calcium helps to build healthy bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Find out more about calcium.

Fad diets

Diets that promise quick weight loss are often not nutritionally balanced, meaning you could miss out on important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to focus on short-term results, so you end up putting the weight back on. Get tips on losing weight the healthy way.

Eating disorders

Does eating make you feel anxious, guilty or upset? An eating disorder is serious and isn’t something you should deal with on your own. Talk about it with someone you trust, there are treatments that can help, and you can recover from an eating disorder. Learn more about eating disorders.

Here are some useful videos to watch

MINDFULNESS AND RESILIENCE 

Mindfulness

It can be very easy to forget to take stock and listen to how we are feeling during our busy and stressful lives. Our bodies and minds are key in supporting our health; by warning us when things are wrong and helping us to connect with the things that make us happy. Become more self-aware and notice the things around you, and then channel those thoughts, feelings and sensations into positive actions.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It is about allowing yourself to see the present moment clearly and being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they happen from moment to moment.

Mindfulness originates in Buddhism and in the 1970s it was first adapted into structured programmes to help people enhance their general wellbeing and manage long term health conditions. Mindfulness is now recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people, particularly those who have had three or more incidents of depression.

How mindfulness can help with mental health and wellbeing
  • Manage unhelpful thoughts
  • Develop better coping strategies for difficult events
  • Increase your awareness of your thoughts and feelings
  • Be kinder towards yourself
  • Manage pain and physical health problems
  • Feel calmer and manage stress better
  • Stand back from your thoughts and begin to see patterns
  • Notice signs of anxiety early so you can deal with them better
 
Try focusing on these mindful techniques now:
  • The sight of a flower, bird or animal. Explore every aspect of its formation and allow yourself to be immersed in its beauty and presence
  • The feelings and sensations in your body as you sit in a chair
  • The sound of a piece of music. Put some headphones on and allow yourself to get lost in the music
  • Immerse yourself in household chores. For example, while washing up pay attention to every detail; the feeling of the bubbles on your hand, the clanking of the dishes
  • The feeling of your feet and body as you are walking
  • Mindful colouring has become popular recently with the introduction of mindful colouring books

Starfish breathing technique

Hold one hand up and open your fingers very wide, so that it looks like a big starfish. Place the index finger of the other hand at the base of the thumb of your open hand.

As you breathe in (inhale) trace up the side of the thumb with the index finger. As you breathe out (exhale), continue tracing down the inside of the thumb. On your next inhale, trace up the pointer finger. Exhale, tracing down the pointer finger. Continue taking deep inhales & exhales as you trace all five fingers on your “starfish” hand.

When you have finished, put your hands in your lap. Take one more deep breath in and one more deep breath out. Close your eyes and notice how you feel.

Resilience

Resilience is how we adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Resilience is the way we ‘bounce back’ from difficult experiences. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.

Five ways to build resilience:

  1. Make connections. Building strong, positive relationships with family members and friends can provide you with support in both good and bad times. Helping other people can also help strengthen your resilience
  2. Be proactive. Act on adverse situations and take decisive actions, rather than ignoring your problems and hoping that they will go away
  3. Move towards your goals. Develop and set goals to move you forward to help you look to the future with meaning
  4. Learn from past experiences. Think how you have coped with past problems and consider the skills you used to get you through difficult times
  5. Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs. Practice self-care and do things that you enjoy. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and ensure your diet is healthy
SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS AND RESOURCES
NICE

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Oxford Mindfulness Centre

Mindfulness courses

Breathworks

Mindfulness courses

Be Mindful

List of mindfulness practitioners

Buddhanet

Local Buddhist centres

Smart Phone Apps

Calm (android and iPhone) – free app available in Google Play or App Store features a selection of meditations that vary in length.

WORKING FROM HOME TIPS

Tips for remaining focussed when working from home. 

Whether it’s Netflix, Whatsapp, other people in the house, or the idea of going outside for your daily exercise, there’s plenty at home that can distract you from studying.

So what can you do to stay focused and motivated when studying at home?

Get rid of distractions – turn off notifications for apps, remove them from your homescreen, or even leave your phone out of sight. The same goes for other distractions, like games consoles. Try keeping a diary of how you spend an average week. The results might shock you into putting certain activities on hold, like spending too many hours on social media, or late nights out that can hurt your productivity the next day. This way you can free up time, and use this more wisely

Get into study mode – working in bed might sound like the dream, but it might not put you in the right mindset to focus. Stick to a structured routine, including having a shower, getting changed, having breakfast, etc. Then treat studying like a proper job or task, with clear, achievable goals. Having a proper study space can help with this.

Learn how you work best – studying independently from home gives you some control over your study environment or schedule, such you could listen to music while you work or you could do some exercise during lunch.

 Talk to those around you – whether it’s family living with you, or friends pinging you funny memes, they may not realise that they’re distracting you, or just how much work you have to do.
Make it clear when you need to get your head down. Be nice of course, and don’t let key responsibilities and commitments slip by the wayside. Tell people when you’ll be free (e.g. ‘I can’t now, but I can after I finish this assignment…’), 

Reward your accomplishments – studying non stop without a break or reward, will wreak havoc on your wellbeing, as well as your ability to focus.

The human brain can only concentrate for so long. Take breaks, and use these productively – ideally in ways that don’t require much thinking. Catch up on household chores, go for a run, or reply to messages from friends.
Use rewards as motivation. Don’t forget to recognise your progress, or remind yourself of what you’re working towards, either. This is particularly relevant for online learning or students working towards long-term goals.

Having a dedicated, physical space to work in, can train your brain to focus. This doesn’t have to be a whole office or study room. If you’re short of space, this could be a particular area, like a part of your bedroom or living room. Try to keep places like your bed or sofa for relaxing, where you can properly ‘switch off’.

Studying at home for long periods can make it easy to fall into bad habits too, so watch out for the following:

 

Not getting outside enough – it’s easy to lose track of time studying when you’re already at home. Before you know it, you’ve been inside all day, staring at books and screens. Many studies have highlighted the benefits of exercise, or sunlight on the body’s serotonin levels to reduce depression and regulate anxiety. Even just going for a walk with some music can give your brain – and your eyes – a well-needed break.
 

Poor diet – the moment your stomach starts to rumble, you may find yourself rummaging around your kitchen cupboards for a naughty snack.  Either save them as a reward, or balance them with healthier alternatives that release energy slowly to help you study, like fruit and nuts.

Not establishing boundaries – we talk about the importance of having a dedicated study space to help you concentrate and relax, above. While sometimes easier said than done, try not to let studying bleed over into other parts of your life. Instead, set yourself strict windows of time to complete work in, so you can switch off properly when you do. This can help you stay focused.

Also, give yourself a buffer between studying and bedtime. Sleep is where your body recharges, so you can function properly the next day. Again, a routine helps. Unwind before bed (without looking at screens) by reading a book, listening to a podcast, or taking a bath.
 

Isolating yourself – while studying from home gives you a lot more independence and autonomy, it can be quite isolating at times. 

POSITIVE EMOTIONS

All Emotions Are Natural

Let’s say you start to brainstorm a list of all the emotions you’ve ever experienced. 

Just for fun, try it now. What’s on your list? Chances are, you included things like happy, sad, excited, angry, afraid, grateful, proud, scared, confused, stressed, relaxed, amazed. Now sort your list into two categories — positive emotions and negative emotions.

Feeling both positive and negative emotions is a natural part of being human. We might use the word “negative” to describe more difficult emotions, but it doesn’t mean those emotions are bad or we shouldn’t have them. Still, most people would probably rather feel a positive emotion than a negative one. It’s likely you’d prefer to feel happy instead of sad, or confident instead of insecure.

What matters is how our emotions are balanced — how much of each type of emotion, positive or negative, we experience.

How Negative Emotions Help Us

Negative emotions warn us of threats or challenges that we may need to deal with. For example, fear can alert us to possible danger. It’s a signal that we might need to protect ourselves. Angry feelings warn us that someone is stepping on our toes, crossing a boundary, or violating our trust. Anger can be a signal that we might need to act on our own behalf.

Negative emotions focus our awareness. They help us to zero in on a problem so we can deal with it. But too many negative emotions can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted, or stressed out. When negative emotions are out of balance, problems might seem too big to handle.

The more we dwell on negative emotions, the more negative we begin to feel. Focusing on negativity just keeps it going.

How Positive Emotions Help Us

Positive emotions balance out negative ones, but they have other powerful benefits, too.

Instead of narrowing our focus like negative emotions do, positive emotions affect our brains in ways that increase our awareness, attention, and memory. They help us take in more information, hold several ideas in mind at once, and understand how different ideas relate to each other.

When positive emotions open us up to new possibilities, we are more able to learn and build on our skills. That leads to doing better on tasks and tests.

People who have plenty of positive emotions in their everyday lives tend to be happier, healthier, learn better, and get along well with others.

The Importance of Positive Emotions

Science is helping us find out how valuable positive emotions can be. Experts have learned a lot from recent brain studies. Here are two findings that can help us use positive emotions to our advantage:

1. Let Positive Emotions Outnumber Negative Ones

When we feel more positive emotions than negative ones, difficult situations are easier to handle. Positive emotions build our resilience (the emotional resources needed for coping). They broaden our awareness, letting us see more options for problem solving.

Studies show that people feel and do their best when they have at least three times as many positive emotions as negative emotions. That’s because of something called the negativity bias.

The negativity bias is a natural human tendency to pay more attention to negative emotions than to positive ones. It makes sense when you think about it: Negative emotions call our attention to problems — problems we might need to deal with quickly. Tuning in to negative emotions can be a survival mechanism.

The negativity bias has a downside, though: It can make us think a day went badly, not well, even if we experienced equal amounts of positive and emotions that day. It takes at least three times as many positive emotions to tip the scales and make a day seem like a great one.

2. Practice Positivity Every Day

Building habits that encourage us to feel more positive emotions can help us be happier, do better, and reduce our negative emotions. Building positive emotions is especially important if we’re already dealing with a lot of negative feelings such as fear, sadness, anger, frustration, or stress.

Positive emotions feel good, and they’re good for you. Pay attention to these powerful tools and find ways to make time for them in your everyday life. Create room in your day for joy, fun, friendship, relaxation, gratitude, and kindness. Make these things a habit and you positively will be a happier you!

Ideas to help fuel positive emotions

10 Positive Emotions

This video introduces the ten positive emotions identified by Barbara Fredrickson in the field of positive psychology.

MOTIVATION

Michelle Obama’s Best Advice For Students | How To Succeed In Life

Don’t Forget What Life Is Really About | by Jay Shetty

MANAGING STRESS

Stress

We use the word stress as shorthand for the stress response, which is the way your brain and body let you know you have a challenge or problem that needs to be addressed. This is the signal that underlies adaptation and is key for the building of resilience.

UNDERSTANDING & MANAGING THE STRESS RESPONSE 

The stress response is the way our brain tells us that there is a problem in our environment that we need to deal with. This is the signal that causes us to adapt and become more resilient. The word “stress” has been used as short-hand for the concept of the stress response, but it has taken on a negative connotation that leads to unhelpful ways of thinking about and managing our stress response. Using clear language to describe our experiences helps us learn how to use the stress response to promote, instead of reduce, our health and mental health. People also often substitute the word “anxiety” when they mean the stress response; however, anxiety (which is a constant state of hyper arousal) is not the same thing as the stress response.

THE MYTH OF EVIL STRESS 

Until recently, most people believed that the stress response was bad for you and consequently, was something that should be avoided whenever possible. We have been bombarded by media and product marketing that has made us believe that stress is our enemy and that our focus needs to be avoiding or decreasing the stress response. Just type the words “avoiding stress” into Google and you will see how common this perception is and how many products sell themselves as essential for stress relief! The reality? Most stress that we experience daily is actually good for us and avoiding it could be harmful. The only stress that can really cause us harm is toxic stress – like abuse, neglect, violence, poverty; especially if we are experiencing it for a prolonged period of time. Regular everyday stress? That actually makes us stronger. Each time you a) experience a stressful situation and b) successfully cope with that situation, you’re making yourself stronger and more resilient. You are learning how to better cope with the challenges of life and developing skills that you can use in the future. The next time a similar stressor comes along, you’re better equipped to handle it and it likely won’t feel as stressful as it did this time. The key is not just reducing the amount of stress you experience, but learning how best to deal with the stress that comes along with being alive. A caution about avoiding stress or expecting someone to change your environment so that you do not experience the stress response – both of those can actually be harmful to you. If you avoid stress or expect someone else to resolve the problem your stress response has identified, you don’t learn the skills you need to take on the daily challenges of life. Over time, these can lead to you feeling helpless and constantly “stressed out”. You’ve traded developing long-term resilience for short-term relief. Not a good trade.

Managing Stress

The good news is that even if you’ve become a stress avoider or have learned to feel overwhelmed or helpless when experiencing stress, you can reverse that and develop health-promoting ways to manage your stress. You can turn your stress from your enemy to your friend.

Here are some ways to  help you manage your day to day challenges. 

Figure out what the problem really is 

Take some time to think through the situation that is causing you stress. What about the situation is bugging you the most? What is the real problem? Identifying the problem is an important step to being able to develop a solution. 

Consider the solutions

 Is there a solution to the problem? Remember that even a difficult solution is still a solution. Solving the problem, even when it’s difficult or when it takes a lot of time is always the best coping strategy. Ask people for help. After all, that is how human beings have solved problems for centuries. 

Accept what you can’t change 

If there isn’t a solution and you can’t change the situation, you may just need to accept that and move on. Consider that door closed and start looking for another one that you may be able to open. 

Be realistic

Try to put things in perspective. Not every stressor is the end of the world. Consider whether you’re really going to be concerned about this in a week’s time, a month’s time, or a year’s time. If this situation was happening to your friend, would you see the situation differently? What advice would you give them? Acknowledge your feelings It’s OK to feel angry or upset once in a while. You don’t have to bottle up your feelings. Admitting that something is really bugging you can often make you feel a lot better. But don’t stop there. How can you mobilise your energy to help you meet the challenge? Move from feeling to thinking. Move from experiencing the problem to solving it. 

Build healthy relationships 

Anytime you’re experiencing stress, talking to friends and family can make a big difference. Developing healthy relationships with people you can count on is an important part of preparing to deal with stress. Plus, many people have gone through what you are experiencing and can not only be supportive but can also suggest strategies that might help you solve the challenges you’re facing. 

Eat a healthy diet 

A well-balanced diet makes you mentally and physically stronger. It gives your body the fuel you need to succeed. Limit foods that are high in fat or sugar, or that are highly processed.

Be active 

One of the best ways to relax and de-stress is to get active. Exercise is good for the brain and body. Research shows that for the biggest impact, 30 minutes of exercise per day is key. 

Sleep

 A good night’s sleep is necessary for optimal mental and physical health. 8-9 hours of sleep per night is ideal for most people, but you’ll know how much is right for you. 

Time Management 

Learn how to schedule assignments and other daily responsibilities – it will help you be more productive and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. When you know that you have time to do everything you need to do, it makes your day easier to manage.

Useful videos

Managing Stress

Box Breathing for Stress: Techniques, Benefits and Tips

Stress Awareness – Sleep

Stress Awareness – Self-soothe box

Stress Awareness – Gratitude

Stress Awareness – Mindfulness

Understanding Fight Flight Freeze

The fight-flight-freeze response is your body’s natural reaction to danger. It’s a type of stress response that helps you react to perceived threats, like an oncoming car or growling dog.

The response instantly causes hormonal and physiological changes. These changes allow you to act quickly so you can protect yourself. It’s a survival instinct that our ancient ancestors developed many years ago.

Specifically, fight-or-flight is an active defense response where you fight or flee. Your heart rate gets faster, which increases oxygen flow to your major muscles. Your pain perception drops, and your hearing sharpens. These changes help you act appropriately and rapidly.

Freezing is fight-or-flight on hold, where you further prepare to protect yourself. It’s also called reactive immobility or attentive immobility. It involves similar physiological changes, but instead, you stay completely still and get ready for the next move.

Fight-flight-freeze isn’t a conscious decision. It’s an automatic reaction, so you can’t control it.

Fight Flight Freeze – Anxiety Explained For Teens

MEDITATION AND RELAXATION

Relaxation can help you when you are feeling stressed or busy. There are many things you can do to relax, and incorporating these into your daily life can help with your overall wellbeing.

Meditation is relaxation. The purpose of meditation is to free the mind from stress and worry. We can experience true happiness if the mind is peaceful and calm. It is often difficult to be happy if our minds are full of worry. With regular meditation, our mind becomes more peaceful even during challenging times.

Exploring relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you’re feeling stressed or busy. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do.

A short soothing and relaxing video by Diana Parkinson. This short video aims to reduce stress and helps you feel calm, peaceful and so, so relaxed.

Some simple relaxation techniques to help you remain calm.

Take a break. Stepping away from something stressful for just a few minutes can help you feel calmer and will allow you to regroup your thoughts. You could read a magazine or a book for a few minutes. You could go and have a warm bath, watch some TV or walk the dog.

Focus on your breathing. Count as you breathe – start by counting to five on your inhale, then count to five on your exhale.

Listen to music. Music can help you relax, connect you to your emotions and distract you from any worrying thoughts. You may want to close your eyes or put some headphones on, just focus on the music and let all your thoughts and worries fade away.

Imagine you’re in a calm place, such as on the beach or in a meadow. It might be a memory of somewhere that you have already been or it could be a place you have constructed in your imagination. Close your eyes and focus on what this place looks like, what can you hear, how does it feel. Just let your mind drift off in to this beautiful place and let your body totally relax.

Active relaxation. Go for a walk or try a yoga or pilates class.

Get creative. Painting, drawing, craft making, playing an instrument, dancing, cooking are all ways to get in touch with your artistic side that will assist you to feel more calm and relaxed. Adult colouring books are popular at present for this very purpose.

Get out in nature. Walking in the countryside or in the park, being mindful of everything you see on the way.

Take a break from technology. Using your smart phone a lot can cause stress, so just taking a short break can help relax you. Turn the smart phone off for an hour or so, take a break from the TV, leave your inbox alone for one morning.

Untense your muscles. Simply sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Clench and release your toes and move up your body, tensing and untensing your muscles. Take time to notice any areas that feel tense, tight or tired paying particular attention to these areas.

Meditation

Kieran Alger shares some tips from meditation master Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of meditation app Headspace, on how 10 minutes a day can help you on your health and fitness journey. This article is from the blog of Joe Wicks, The Bodycoach, who has a number of helpful hints and workouts on his website, he also has a number of HIIT workouts that you can try on his YouTube channel and Facebook page.

What are the health benefits of meditation?

According to Andy meditation can, “improve your sleep, lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress. In fact, setting aside a little time each day to get to know your mind is a great step on the path to an altogether healthier and happier life.” Don’t just take Andy’s word for it – there are scores of academic studies by the boffins in white coats to back him up.

How meditation can help you train harder

“The body and mind are not separate,” explains Andy, who has coached Olympic athletes to podium glory. “No matter how much experience we have, no matter how hard we’ve trained, we can only perform at our best when the body and mind are in sync.”

How to start meditating

“Don’t think about it, just do it,” advises Andy, who swears by taking 10 minutes of time out each day. “It may sound obvious, but meditation only works if you actually do it.” So, find a quiet place where you can relax and set your timer for 10 minutes – you can try a free guided meditation for beginners by downloading the Headspace app from iTunes, or sample a 10-minute taster here.

Andy recommends sitting comfortably in a chair with your hands resting on your lap. “Keep your back straight – sitting at the front of the seat might help. Your neck should be relaxed, with your chin slightly tucked in.”

The secret to good meditation

Two words: breathe deeply. Concentrate on your breath and let everything else fall away. But breathing doesn’t always come so naturally. Andy’s advice: “Defocus your eyes, gazing softly into the middle distance. Take five audible breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. On the last exhalation, let your eyes gently close.”

What to do when you meditate

Andy advocates slowly scanning your body head to toe, slowly turning your mind inwards. “Observe any tension or discomfort,” adds Andy. “Don’t try to change what you find, simply take note of it.” If your head is still busily thinking, simply let them bubble up without getting caught up in them.

Meditation breathing made easy

“How do I breathe?” isn’t a silly question. Far from it. Breathing is automatic, but most of the time our breathing is shallow, which means we don’t inhale enough restorative oxygen. So, how do you breathe when you meditate? Over to Andy: “Bring your attention to your breathing. Don’t make any effort to change it, just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in the body. Notice where these sensations occur – perhaps your belly, your chest, your shoulders, or anywhere else.” To keep on track, count yourself calm. Silently count one with your inhale, two as you exhale, three on the next inhalation and so on, up to 10. Then start again.

Are you distracted when you meditate?

It’s totally normal to have your thoughts jump from an email that needs a reply to the gig tickets you’ve got to book and, ooh, is that your phone beeping? Let your breath anchor you. “Guide your attention back to the breath when you realise the mind has wandered off,” advises Andy. Keep coming back to your breath until your 10-minute timer sounds.

Let your mind be free

Before you leap up or post a beautifully-filtered shot of you meditating, it’s worth taking 30 seconds to do nothing but sit. “You might find yourself inundated with thoughts and plans, or feel completely focused,” explains Andy. “Whatever happens is completely fine. Enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be.”

Crossing the finish line

Gradually turn your attention outwards again. “Become aware once more of the physical feelings: of the chair beneath you, where your feet make contact with the floor, your arms and your hands resting in your lap,” advises Andy. “When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.”

Whoop! You winner! Bottle the high by paying attention to how you feel after your 10 minutes of meditation. “Remind yourself of this feeling the next time you feel stressed or worried, and know that with just 10 minutes of meditation, you might feel a little bit better,” finishes Andy.

 

Meditation has many known benefits to improve wellness and feelings of stability.

  • Become less stressed.

  • Improve your sleep quality.

  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety.

  • Increase your concentration and memory.

Meditation doesn’t just take practice, it *is* practice. You have to get used to gently letting go of the thoughts and feelings that occur in the mind. But, just like riding a bike, the more you do it, the easier it feels. So jump on your trusty bicycle, and enjoy a taste of freedom.

Meditation 101: A beginners guide

Are you new to meditation, and interested in finding out how to start a practice? We’ll walk you through the basics!

Support Organisations and Resources

TOP WELLBEING APPS USED BY STUDENTS

Insight Timer

#1 free app for sleep, anxiety and stress.

https://insighttimer.com/

Calm

Meditation & Sleep Stories

https://www.calm.com/

Flora: focus together

To-do list, habit tracker

https://flora.appfinca.com/en/

Thrive: Mental Wellbeing

Manage your mental wellbeing

https://thrive.uk.com/

Tangerine: Self Care & Goals

Habits. Mood Tracker. Journal

https://tangerine.app/

Fabulous – Daily Self Care

Goal Planner & Tracker

Plantie – Stay focussed

Concentrate, Grow & Harvest

Time management

https://plantie.app/

MindU – Meditation Sleep App

Mindfulness, Sleep, Meditation

MindU helps you reduce stress & anxiety

https://www.mindu.io/

NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND REFRAMING

Your brain is wired for negative thoughts.

There’s a reason that insults stick with us longer than compliments — and it may serve an evolutionary purpose. Is the glass half full or half empty? 🥛 Turns out, the way that you present a situation to people can really change how they feel about it — our brains tend to fixate on the negative aspects over the positive ones.

In this video Alison Ledgerwood, a UC Davis professor of psychology, studies how people tend to get stuck in particular ways of thinking and what they can do to get unstuck.

PROCRASTINATING AND OVERTHINKING

Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator Tim Urban

How to stop overthinking

3 Tips to stop overthinking everything/ Dr Julie Smith

GRATITUDE

The Black Dot Inspirational Short Story

Gratitude 

Science suggests that practising gratitude and actively trying to be more grateful every day can make us mentally and physically healthier. It can help us be happier, less anxious and boost our immune systems.

One study, by scientists at the University of California, found that people aged between eight and 80 who consistently practise gratitude enjoy a number of physical benefits, including better sleep, a stronger immune system and less daily aches and pains.

They benefit mentally too, feeling more joyful and optimistic. They were also found to be kinder to others and more helpful, generous and compassionate. Finally, grateful people were found to feel less isolated and lonely.

Remember… Gratitude is about acknowledging and giving credit to small everyday objects, activities and emotions, as well as big life events and achievements. It’s about not taking smaller details for granted and finding joy in the seemingly mundane, like a cup of tea, a houseplant or local walk.

WHY IS GRATITUDE SO GOOD FOR US?

One of the University of California scientists, Robert Emmons, lists the reasons why gratitude is so beneficial. He says:

  1. “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions.”
  2. “Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret — emotions that can destroy our happiness.”
  3. “Grateful people are more stress resistant.”
  4. “Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.”

In conclusion, being grateful and actively seeking things to be grateful for makes us, our lives and our outlooks more positive. This, in turn, has benefits on our mental and physical health.

How to practise gratitude and be more grateful

So, how can we make 2021 the year we are all more grateful? Here are seven practical ways to practise gratitude every day…

1. KEEP A GRATITUDE DIARY

Keeping a gratitude diary is an easy way to carve out 10 mins of your day to be actively grateful. Slot it into your routine whenever suits you best time-wise or when you are most in need of a positive boost. Some choose to fill in their diary – which normally consists of writing a short list of the things you are grateful for that day – in the morning to kick start the day, or just before bed to summarise it. 

2. MULTITASK LESS

Being grateful for actions, activities and feelings comes hand in hand with mindfulness. We can’t truly appreciate something if we aren’t experiencing it fully. Try to do one activity at a time, like eating a meal without watching TV or talking on the phone at the same time. You’ll be more appreciative of that meal.

3. TAKE DAILY WALKS

Go on a daily walk and make it your mission to find everything you like and appreciate about it. That could include the weather, the views or the people/shops/houses you pass on route. It could be the way you feel on your walk that day, the comfy jumper you’re wearing or even the fact that you motivated yourself to get out and walk in the first place. You can walk anywhere – country, town, park, garden, residential street or nature reserve.

4. SAY THANK YOU TO SOMEONE EVERYDAY

Do you say ‘thank you’ enough? You probably thank people for the sake of being polite, like cashiers or shop assistants, but what about all the other people who contribute to your life? Try thanking people more regularly – be it the refuse collector, your best friend, your partner, colleague or even yourself.

5. FIND THE SILVER LINING IN EVERYTHING

When something happens and your default reaction is a negative one, try your hardest to find some kind of silver lining in that situation, however small. Is it raining? At least the garden will get a good drink. Do you have to spend more time at home? At least you have somewhere to call ‘home’. This method, of course, might not apply to every situation but it’s a good thought process to practice when you are ready.

6. BE GRATEFUL TO STRANGERS

A smile, a ‘thank you’ or a short conversation can go a long way in spreading joy and gratitude from person to person. Be the one to help make gratitude contagious this year.

7. STOP LOOKING FOR DISTRACTIONS

In a world where we are constantly stimulated, be it by the TV, our phones, social media or working from home, it can be helpful to remember that there’s nothing wrong with the mundane and ordinary. Even simple silence should be appreciated.

An article from Country Living written by journalist Emma-Louise Pritchard.

EMPATHY

Brené Brown on Empathy

The Importance of Empathy

The Power of Empathy | Audrey Moore

SOCIAL MEDIA

emoji-scale-v2

#OwnYourFeed​ for a more positive time online

MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA WORK FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Do you eat McDonald’s every day? Probably not. Why? Because you care about your health, right? However good something may taste in the moment, you try to make healthy choices most of the time.

Well, your mind is just like your body. How good it feels depends on what you put into it. Most of us have social media on an intravenous drip. We check it all day long. On the bus, in the cafe, walking the dog, in a meeting, at the desk, on the loo. All of these moments add up. For you, do they add up to something wonderful?

How do you feel just after you look at your social media feed? Do you feel inspired, energized, connected and confident? Or do you become self-critical and discontent with your life?

Take a look at the various companies and individuals that you follow. If they can profit from making you feel too fat, too thin, not fashionable or not enough in any way, then you can bet that this will be the aim of their well-crafted content. They don’t care about your health and happiness. They care about making sales. Don’t stand for it. If you are looking to feel happier in your day to day life, do yourself a favour and have a social media detox. You don’t have to stop all together, just unfollow everyone who leaves you feeling discontent. Eat clean where your social media is concerned and your mind will thank you for it.

Follow Dr Julie Smith on Instagram

woman-on-phone-1

6 tips to stop doomscrolling

BY 

Is the news sucking you into a never-ending doomscroll at the moment? Here Happiful share some advice to help you put your phone down.

There are also lots of other great happiful hacks on this site for you to look at.

https://happiful.com/tips-to-stop-doomscrolling/

LONELINESS

We all feel lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal, so everyone’s experience of loneliness will be different.

One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience.

Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely – especially if you don’t feel understood or cared for by the people around you.

Text from https://www.mind.org.uk/

Feeling Lonely? 5 Top Tips To Manage Loneliness – Dr Julie Smith

#Letstalklonliness Josie’s Story

SELF-ESTEEM

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change.

Your self-esteem can affect whether you:

  • like and value yourself as a person
  • are able to make decisions and assert yourself
  • recognise your strengths and positives
  • feel able to try new or difficult things
  • show kindness towards yourself
  • move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
  • take the time you need for yourself
  • believe you matter and are good enough
  • believe you deserve happiness

Focus on the positives

Write down your best feature, the last time you received a compliment, the last time you did something for someone that made you feel good. These might seem like small things, but it is important to recognise all the good things about you, and the reasons why people appreciate you for being who you are.

Talking to your ‘inner child’ can help you recognise the good things about yourself. Watch the video below to understand how this works: 

CONFIDENCE

You are enough Already

How to Get Up in the Morning | Zibby Lindholm | TEDxYorkSchool

3 tips to boost your confidence – TED-Ed

NATURE FOR WELLBEING

 

How can nature benefit my mental health?

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. It can:

Information from https://www.mind.org.uk/

Photo by Blackpool Sixth A Level Photography student Katie Gay.

Blackpool Sixth Eco Action Group

The college’s new Eco Action group has been busy with environmental activities and awareness-raising over the past few weeks. The group planted 60 native trees at the front of college which will grow into a wildlife-friendly hedge. You can catch up on the latest from the group on their Instagram account @b6ecoaction.

The group are also asking if all students can please spare 5 minutes to do their survey about what actions and changes you would like to see the college take connected with the environment. This will help represent your views and plan future activities. You can access the survey with this link:
https://forms.gle/Y7GtSkBPSAa7AwfY8

There are lots of opportunities to get involved with projects and roles which will be great for the environment and for your CV. Please contact students Maya Lindley, Carlotta Cox or Jon McLeod (staff) for more information.

DSC_5121

Student nature photography

ON MY MIND

Click the image below to be directed to the website.