mental health, mental wellness, mind

What do you do when you feel sad?

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of mental wellbeing. 

Earlier this week, one of my students logged into tuition very upset about what had happened during the day at school. They asked me a very simple, but very important, question: ‘What do you do when you’re sad?’

 

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

Carl Jung

Mental Wellbeing 2020

Student stress

This year has been difficult at the best of times. Couple this with teenage hormones, pressure from schools to catch up, and uncertainty around exams this year, then it’s no wonder students are feeling worried. 

As the UK comes out of a second national lockdown and things start to open up again, pressures on teenagers might ease slightly: there will be (limited) places that they can go and socialise with their friends; they might be able to meet up in slightly larger groupings (depending on where they live); and they might – just might – be able to see their grandparents over the Christmas holidays this year. 


A Positive Mindset

Setbacks don’t always have to be soul-crushing moments. Sometimes, they can be a good thing.

I could get philosophical here. Or, I could quote the song from Disney’s Sword in the Stone, and tell you that ‘for every high to there is a fro’…

Because, actually, sometimes things can be a little tough and the only way through that is knowing that ‘this too shall pass’, or ‘you can’t have rainbows without rain’. Taking a moment to recognise that is really important. Thinking in that way helps to turn that soul-crushing moment into a blip. 

Relax

The importance of quiet time for health and mental wellbeing.

Get Creative

However that might be: whether it's just colouring in or creating a full-on craft project. I recommend free writing as a great way of being able to explore and express emotions in totally judgement-free way.

Read

It's a cliché English teacher's answer, perhaps, but reading (and reading fiction in particular) has been proven to boost people's mental wellbeing.

Cooking

Take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and try your hand at pulling out a show-stopper one weekend. Master the art of a really great bread. Or try something as simple and has healthy as putting together for your family.

Let's get physical

benefits of exercise

There was no way that I could write about how students could cope with the stress of this year without mentioning exercise.

What’s worrying, is that since the first lockdown, uptake of sports has stalled. Not only are many events and clubs outside of school closed because of restrictions, but this is having an impact on the participation of sports in extra curricular activities in schools too. 

Yes, there are lots of them. And yes, you probably know them all already.

But the physical benefits of exercise are all the more important when people are confined in small spaces for longer periods of time. There are fewer opportunities to get regular exercise, making it all the more important that people take those opportunities when they can. 

Exercise makes you happy. Maybe not when you’re doing lots of burpees – but taking part in physical activity makes you happier. It can spark creativity, improve memory and help learning, and can help with anxiety and depression. 

What do I do?

In answer to that students’ question, I’ve found a few ways of cheering myself up. 

Sometimes it’s calling family, whether that’s my sisters or my dad. Getting their perspective on the situation is always really useful: it means that I’ve got the option of talking through what’s happened with someone that I know and trust.

Other times, going out for a really long walk and getting some fresh air helps a lot. It’s incredible how just being outside can improve your mood.

Generally speaking, I’ve found that there’s a balance I need to try and achieve. When I’m sad, that balance has gone wobbly for some reason and I need to work out why and what I need to do to change it. That might mean that sometimes I need to unplug from my emails and get off social media for a bit; other times I might need to try and eat a bit healthier or get to bed a little early. 

 

Other Services

Sometimes you can’t do it alone. When these moments happen, it’s important to remember that you’re not. You’re not the only person experiencing difficulties right now and there are people and places that you can go to for help and support. 

Samaritans

Probably one of the most famous charities that you can go to. Their number is 116 123 and there are people answering calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Childline

The Childline website is brilliant - there are loads of resources there that you can use to navigate difficult situations. You can also call them on 0800 11 11.

Mind

Mind has been one of the leading charities in Mental Health since the 1940s. Today, it's website is a wealth of information and can signpost you to specific people who can help you cope during difficult times.

Other sources of help and support

If you're in school, there is always someone who will sit and listen to you. Speak to a teacher, or a member of support staff. They will not judge you.
Call the NHS 111 number, there's a trained professional on the other end of the phone who can talk you through some options.

Contact us.

If you’re still unsure, contact us and we will try to get back to you as quickly as possible with some ideas and solutions. 

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