The struggle is real

A recent BBC News article reported a huge rise in severe mental health difficulties in children and young people in the past year, sadly this is a statistic that is very true and close to home.

Over the past year we have seen an increase in the number of children and young people needing support through mentoring. Thankfully for many this has provided the time and space needed to explore their feelings, worries, concerns and anxieties as well as gain some key tools and strategies to help them as they move forward. However there have been a number of young people that have needed more specialist support as they’ve dealt with extreme anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders. Phase may not be able to deliver such acute care, but we are able to listen and support these young people as they access or wait for these services.

If you are anything like me you too will have struggled somewhat over the repeated lockdowns, whether it was the loss of connection with people, pressure of isolating or shielding, trying to manage and balance home, work, schooling or other challenges. I think it is fair to say that all were affected in some sort of way. And as things open up, as life slowly emerges and returns to some sort of normality we can be left with a variety of feelings like an emotional ‘lockdown-hangover’ that can feel uncomfortable, unsure of how to process them or apprehensive about telling anyone else how we feel.

Here are three ideas on how to manage these feelings so that you and I can begin to bounce back and head into this new era with a renewed sense of hope and restored wellbeing.

Be honest

Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling - name it! Try to describe it. It can be very useful to either write it down or say it out loud (you don’t have to shout, but perhaps that will help).

By doing this you help your mind to stop going round in circles, you begin to access the logical parts of your brain that can help you think through what to do next with these feelings. If you’re feeling really brave, then share these feelings and thoughts with a friend, again expressing them can be extremely cathartic, release internal pressure and realise that you’re not going mad, or the only person having these feelings.

Take care of yourself

Eat, drink, exercise, connect, sleep - repeat! When we start to feel anxious, low or any other difficult emotion we can also forget to look after ourselves physically. Extreme emotions can zap our energy reserves and this make it harder for us to process them, therefore it is important to give our bodies the energy and sustenance needed.

Making sure you are eating regular balanced meals, being well hydrated, increasing your activity levels and connecting with those that bring you joy can all help in taking positive, proactive steps forward in improving your mental health and wellbeing.

We have produced a series of short videos on the 5-ways to wellbeing, check them out.

Look for the good

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, heard me speak or have stood near me for more than 3 minutes, you may have heard me say ‘keep a gratitude journal’. It is a simple practice of writing down 3 things each day that you are grateful for. There have been many studies on the power of gratitude, to sum them up - being grateful boosts your wellbeing and resilience, improves your mood and ability to cope - all this from taking 2 minutes each day to write down three things. We have created a simple template to help kick start this habit.

Bonus tip - Get help

Not so much a bonus tip, more of a plea. If you are struggling, if you need help and support, please reach out to a family member, a friend, a colleague. If you’re a young person, then you can contact us or Childline. If you’re an adult then there are great services such as the Samaritans, Mind and NHS helpline. Please do not suffer in silence, it has been an extremely difficult time, together we can make it through.

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