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This week we have added some useful tools for you to use. Use the link below to download for free.
A Wellbeing plan
Calm Breathing Steps
Looking after yourself booklet
Time Out Sheet
Weekly Feelings Tracker
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14- 19 care pack
How teenagers can protect their mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19)
6 strategies for teens facing a new (temporary) normal.
Being a teenager is difficult no matter what, and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is making it even harder. With school closures and cancelled events, many teens are missing out on some of the biggest moments of their young lives — as well as everyday moments like chatting with friends and participating in class.
For teenagers facing life changes due to the outbreak who are feeling anxious, isolated and disappointed, know this: you are not alone. We spoke with expert adolescent psychologist, best-selling author and monthly New York Times columnist Dr. Lisa Damour about what you can do to practice self-care and look after your mental health.
1. Recognize that your anxiety is completely normal
If school closures and alarming headlines are making you feel anxious, you are not the only one. In fact, that’s how you’re supposed to feel. “Psychologists have long recognized that anxiety is a normal and healthy function that alerts us to threats and helps us take measures to protect ourselves,” says Dr. Damour. “Your anxiety is going to help you make the decisions that you need to be making right now — not spending time with other people or in large groups, washing your hands and not touching your face.” Those feelings are helping to keep not only you safe, but others too. This is “also how we take care of members of our community. We think about the people around us, too.”
While anxiety around COVID-19 is completely understandable, make sure that you are using “reliable sources [such as the UNICEF and the World Health Organization’s sites] to get information, or to check any information you might be getting through less reliable channels,” recommends Dr. Damour.
If you are worried that you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to speak to your parents about it. “Keep in mind that illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults,” says Dr. Damour. It’s also important to remember, that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be treated. She recommends letting your parents or a trusted adult know if you’re not feeling well, or if you’re feeling worried about the virus, so they can help.
And remember: “There are many effective things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and to feel in better control of our circumstances: frequently wash our hands, don’t touch our faces and engage in social distancing.”
>> Read our handwashing tips
2. Create distractions
“What psychologists know is that when we are under chronically difficult conditions, it’s very helpful to divide the problem into two categories: things I can do something about, and then things I can do nothing about,” says Dr. Damour.
There is a lot that falls under that second category right now, and that’s okay, but one thing that helps us to deal with that is creating distractions for ourselves. Dr. Damour suggests doing homework, watching a favourite movie or getting in bed with a novel as ways to seek relief and find balance in the day-to-day.
3. Find new ways to connect with your friends
If you want to spend time with friends while you’re practicing social distancing, social media is a great way to connect. Get creative: Join in a Tik-Tok challenge like #safehands. “I would never underestimate the creativity of teenagers,” says Dr. Damour, “My hunch is that they will find ways to [connect] with one another online that are different from how they’ve been doing it before.”
“[But] it’s not going to be a good idea to have unfettered access to screens and or social media. That’s not healthy, that’s not smart, it may amplify your anxiety,” says Dr. Damour, recommending you work out a screen-time schedule with your parents.
4. Focus on you
Have you been wanting to learn how to do something new, start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument? Now is the time to do that. Focusing on yourself and finding ways to use your new-found time is a productive way to look after your mental health. “I have been making a list of all of the books I want to read and the things that I’ve been meaning to do,” says Dr. Damour.
“When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through.”
5. Feel your feelings
Missing out on events with friends, hobbies, or sports matches is incredibly disappointing. “These are large-scale losses. They’re really upsetting and rightly so to teenagers,” says Dr. Damour. The best way to deal with this disappointment? Let yourself feel it. “When it comes to having a painful feeling, the only way out is through. Go ahead and be sad, and if you can let yourself be sad, you’ll start to feel better faster.”
Processing your feelings looks different for everyone. “Some kids are going to make art, some kids are going to want to talk to their friends and use their shared sadness as a way to feel connected in a time when they can’t be together in person, and some kids are going to want to find ways to get food to food banks,” says Dr. Damour. What’s important is that you do what feels right to you.
6. Be kind to yourself and others
Some teens are facing bullying and abuse at school due to coronavirus. “Activating bystanders is the best way to address any kind of bullying,” says Dr. Damour. “Kids and teenagers who are targeted should not be expected to confront bullies; rather we should encourage them to turn to friends or adults for help and support.”
If you witness a friend being bullied, reach out to them and try to offer support. Doing nothing can leave the person feeling that everyone is against them or that nobody cares. Your words can make a difference.
And remember: now more than ever we need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others.
Characteristics of those who cause harm
Those who cause harm often blame their partners for the assaults and do not take any responsibility for the violence they have perpetrated.
Listed below are some characteristics of an abusive partner:
- Threatening – An abusive partner could threaten you, your children or loved ones as a way to get you to comply with their wishes.
- Pushy and/or Aggressive – An abusive partner may be overly pushy and aggressive. They may try to force you to do things when you don’t want to and may display some aggressive behaviours when trying to be extremely manipulative.
- Isolating – An abusive partner could try as much as possible to isolate you from your friends and family. The purpose of this behaviour is to make you solely dependent on them.
- Criticizing – An abusive partner could constantly criticize you (appearance, clothes, family, friends, job, weight, and so on9).
- Indifferent– An abusive partner may act indifferent towards you as a way to get you to “beg” for love, affection, support and attention.
- Manipulative– An abusive partner is extremely manipulative.
- Intimidating – An abusive partner could try to intimidate you with threats in order to keep you in line with their abusive patterns.
- Forceful – An abusive partner may try to push their “weight around” as a way to intimidate or force their will onto you.
- Dominating – An abusive partner will try to dominate and control your every action.
- Insulting– An abusive partner could verbally abuse or constantly insult you (i.e. clothes, weight, hairstyle, etc.)
- Embarrassing– An abusive partner could take pleasure in embarrassing you in front of others.
- “Stalking” – An abusive partner could “stalk” you when you are out with family and friends.
- Intrusive – An abusive partner could go through your personal belonging to see where you went, who you talk to, meetings you’ve had…………
- Moody – An abusive partner may experience some extreme violent and unpredictable mood swings.
- Mean-Spirited/Hateful – An abusive partner may come across as mean-spirited and hateful.
- Degrading– An abusive partner will take pleasure in degrading you in private and in public.
Just because someone blames you, does not make what they’re doing acceptable or your fault.
If you feel your partner does any of the above, ACT ON IT and seek help.
There is a myth that continues to circulate that DOMESTIC ABUSE IS AN ADULT ONLY ISSUES. FALSE! FALSE! FALSE!
At the start of 2015 an online survey of 334 young people by CWA found that although all could explain what domestic (relationship) abuse was, 15% thought it only happened when you where an adult living with or married to the person causing harm (which neglects how family members can abuse other family members).
Again, and again in workshops young people have said “but it doesn’t happen to kids…”
It is happening to anyone regardless of age, or any other identifying labels.
1 in 5 young people are reporting experiencing relationship abuse, 1 in 3 young women are reporting sexual assaults – it is happening to young people and ignoring this fact heightens individual risks.
You’re partner doesn’t need to be physically hurt you to be abusive, name calling, threats, stalking, harassment are all types of abuse. Do not put yourself or friends in danger by ignoring this situation.
Domestic Abuse continues to be one of the highest voted campaigns by the Youth Parliament, this site and the Governments Disrespect Nobody (and many other sites) are a response to this rising issue. Educate yourselves, discuss, and ACT ON IT!
On average UK workers do 40 days’ unpaid overtime a year, long hours and a heavy workload can cause stress. In 2010/11 about 400,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill.
The way you deal with stress can encourage unhealthy behaviour, such as smoking and drinking too much, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Good stress management in the workplace is therefore critical to your overall health.
Speak out – If you’re extremely busy and your boss asks you to do more, you can say no. Outline your reasons in a specific, measurable way, but always offer a solution.
Learn to recognise the physical effects of stress and do something about it before it makes you really ill. Beware of work stress spilling over into other areas of your life.
Whatever the source of your stress, speak to your manager or someone in your organisation that you feel comfortable talking to. Or get outside help.
Employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This comes under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They’re also required to conduct risk assessments for work-related stress.
If the problem is not work-related, they may be able to support you in some way or help to take some pressure off you at work while you resolve the stress in your personal life.
If you feel unsupported at work turn to your GP. Doctors aren’t experts in employment law, but they can help you analyse the situation and refer you to more specialised help if necessary.
Don’t put up with stress – ACT ON IT!
Everyone can experience stress; it may come from your relationship, job, home life, school/college or most commonly money worries.
The following tips can help manage stress:
Focus on Your Health
If you want to manage stress, you will need to focus on your health. For instance, give up nicotine, junk food and/or alcohol and start exercising and eating healthier. In other words, supply your body with nutritious foods that will reduce your stress and revitalize you.
Moreover, exercising will ease your tension, give you an energy boost and help you shed those extra pounds.
Learn How to Say “No”
One of the most difficult parts of managing stress is learning how to say “no.” It is important to understand that is alright to say “no” sometimes. In fact, it is impossible to always say “yes” and if you try to you will be overworked, overwhelmed and constantly in a stressful state.
Many times stress arises when you try to do too much in a short amount of time. You may not realize it, but even doing favors for your family and friends can cause stress.
The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to just say “no” if you just don’t have the time to fulfill the request.
Do Something That You Enjoy
One of the most effective ways to manage stress is to do something you enjoy. In other words, go have a little fun.
Start a new hobby, go to a party or social event, join a club or organization, shop, read a book and/or spend time with friends and family.
Having some fun will relax you and reduce your stress.
Pace Yourself and Concentrate on What You Can Do
If you find yourself feeling stressed, it is time to pace yourself and concentrate on what you can do.
If you want to learn how to manage stress, you will need to first take a look at what is causing the stress.
Do you have too many “irons in the fire?” If so then you may need to reduce your workload and only focus on the tasks that have to be completed. Pacing yourself will prevent you from “spreading yourself too thin” and not accomplishing anything.
Accept only the assignments that you know you can comfortably complete by the deadline and watch your stress melt away.
If you none of these suggestions help your stress and possible anxiety then ACT ON IT and talk to someone, finding help and support may be the only way to reduce your stress.
Happiness can be difficult to achieve, you may do this through friendships and activities, by completing your goals (for some people cleaning makes them happy), being away on holiday, the weather – basking in the sun or ski-ing in the snow. We can’t help you achieve happiness, only you know how to do that but here are 10 reasons to be happy.
1) It can improve your health
2) It can improve your mood
3) It can increase your self-esteem and self-confidence
4) You will be more successful
5) You will have more friends
6) Your joy can bring joy to others (parents/friends – a smile is infectious)
7) You are alive today
8) You have people who care about you (even if you feel alone there are always social groups that will welcome new members)
9) You are constantly growing and changing – you can try something new, find a new hobby.
10) You are special and unique! There is no one like you in this world.
What is Honour Based Violence
so called honour based violence is when family members or acquaintances mistakenly believe someone has brought shame to their family or community by doing something that is not in keeping with the traditional beliefs of their culture.
For example, honour based violence might be committed against people who:
- – become involved with a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture or religion
- – want to get out of an arranged marriage
- – want to get out of a forced marriage
- – wear clothes or take part in activities that might not be considered traditional within a particular culture
The violence is a punishment to remove the stain of shame.
The victim can be the member of the family who is seen to bring shame, but can also be towards whoever is leading that family member ‘astray’ – so the friends they’ve made which are seen as wrong perhaps because from another religion are attacked too.
Honour based violence is not only a crime but is a form of domestic abuse (because of the family relationship) and is important to consider when risk assessing the needs of an individual.
I’m scared of my boyfriend but I can’t tell my Mum, she won’t help and will just say “I told you so”.
Okay – talking to your parents can be difficult but there are other options – a number of helplines (check out the help & suppport tab) can offer support and point you in the direction of local drops in and places you can talk. Opening up to a trusted friend can be useful but they won’t be able to support you completely. You could also approach people within education (teachers) or even employees. These discussions can give you options of what to do.
Then you could tell you parents, and you may hear “I told you so” but you’ll be a position of independence to say “I know but I’m getting this help, I just want your love and support” and most parents will give you exactly that. They want you to be safe and happy.
It is important to highlight when discussing this issue that anyone under the age of 18 is legally a child and can lead to social care involvement, which will involve talking to your parents. Plus there are those who have a difficult relationship with their parents and social care (and other organisations) are there to help you.
Facing it alone will make it more difficult, it’s time to talk. ACT ON IT.
My Friend is Experiencing Emotional Abuse
- ACT ON IT does have a HELP A FRIEND PAGE, but we will answer any questions sent in.
- Firstly it’s important not to judge them, but show some concern about the situation and encourage them to open up with time – do not rush them and talk to them in private.
- Ensure your response supports and encourages them to talk about the situation. It could create an opportunity for them to explore their options and in time make their decisions. If they’re not ready, don’t push them.
- People being abused will become isolated because of their partner, they may give lame excuses for missing meetings, reject your support, become defensive and deny there is a problem. Be patient, don’t give in, just be there friend and gently remind you’ll always be there.
- Do not tell anyone to leave or criticise them for staying in the relationship. Allow them make the decision of leaving in their own time because it involves both emotional and practical considerations. You can research support options or show them ACT ON IT help and support pages.
- Do not mediate or be the contact person between them and the perpetrator, but volunteer to keep copies of their important documents or items they may need in an emergency at your home.
- Remember to take things easy and look after yourself while supporting your friend, their are trained specialists who can help and it may not be possible for you to support them all the time, assure them of the fact that they are not alone and there is help available to them – encourage them to speak to a specialist support organisation if they haven’t already. They may refuse – do not force them.
- Remind them of the importance of calling 999 if they are in immediate danger and offer the necessary helplines.
If you’re still worried after speaking to them tell someone, in school a teacher, at work a manager, anyone who has a duty of care to that person.
WELL DONE FOR ACTING ON IT!
Fantastic articles about relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, what is healthy, abuse, issues around substance abuse, mental health, and many other topics – written by young people and professionals across Cheshire East
You can write for ACT ON IT too by emailing your ideas to email@example.com
Are you worried about your friends’ relationship? Do you feel they’re not safe? Read our advice section on how to talk to them and offer support.
A quick guide to complete basic safety planning with young people, to help them be safe in an abusive relationship
Young people have shared their personal stories to help you learn about relationship abuse.