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How can we look after our own mental health? 

Exercise 

Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins- chemicals in the brain that can positively alter mood. It also brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge. Engaging in physical exercise can have positive effects on our mental wellbeing. It can also consequently improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.

Breathe mindfully

Breathe deeply down to your belly; put your hand there (just above your navel) and breathe so that your hand gets pushed up and down. Imagine you have a balloon in your tummy, inflating it as you breathe in, and deflating as you breathe out. When we get scared, we breathe too quickly and shallowly, and our body begins to panic because we’re not getting enough oxygen. This causes dizziness, shakiness and more panic. Breathing slower and deeper will stop the panic.

Distraction – 5,4,3,2,1 technique

  • Think about 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can touch (and touch them)
  • 2 things you can smell or like the smell of
  • 1 slow, deep breath

Distraction – Mental games

Mental Games – try to think about different things, almost like playing mental games, for example: count backwards in 7s from 100, think of 10 different animals, 10 blue things, one animal or country for each letter of the alphabet, say the alphabet slowly, say the alphabet backwards etc.

Distraction – Walk

Walk, and really think about walking- mindfully. Notice the way your body moves, how your feet move and feel as you walk, notice your leg muscles, and the way your arms feel as they swing. Notice the movement in your hair, and the sensation of moving air on your skin. Notice the sensations of breathing as you walk.

Speak to Someone

Letting people know how you are feeling is important. We all go through “ups and downs” in life and sharing means that people can give you help and advice. You might find out that person has been through the exact same struggles as you.