Looking after yourself in these moments takes immense courage and strength.
Make your coping strategies easy to access
I don’t always get a lot of warning before I feel like I really can’t cope anymore and I can’t always tell why it has happened. Sometimes it follows a big stressful event, but it can equally follow a little frustration or a background feeling of sadness.
It is important in these moments not to make the situation worse by branding yourself weak – the last straw is often not the real cause. Looking after yourself in these moments takes immense courage and strength.
Because it’s hard to think clearly when overwhelmed, I think it’s really important to make some coping strategies that are easily accessible. Remember, these are just suggestions – everyone and every moment will be different, so keep searching until you find what works.
Sometimes all you can do is hold on tight and remember that the storm will pass no matter how intense it feels.
Three things to have ready for if you’re really struggling:
- Download a playlist of whatever music helps you feel better.
- Save some crisis numbers on your phone.
- Prepare a box of grounding objects like a blanket or something portable like a cool, smooth pebble to keep in your pocket.
Three actions that have helped me through difficult moments:
- Slowing down my mind using the box breathing technique (breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, and repeat).
- Doing something that helps me feel connected to the real world (sitting on the floor, hugging my mum, a hot water bottle).
- Distracting myself from my thoughts (singing or writing out song lyrics, sleeping).
I try to speak to someone once I feel calmer and always take it slowly as I recover.
I try to move away from overwhelming situations, but I actively avoid being alone if I don’t trust myself to stay safe. Even if in the moment I don’t feel like I can talk, I try to speak to someone once I feel calmer and always take it slowly as I recover.
Sometimes all you can do is hold on tight and remember that the storm will pass no matter how intense it feels, but holding on is more than enough.
Sometimes what I really need is to feel completely safe for a little while to re-centre myself.
Revisit your safe places
Whenever I’m really struggling, I want to feel safe. Yes, reading a comfort book, watching a comfort film, or immersing myself in comfort music can help, but sometimes what I really need is to feel completely safe for a little while to re-centre myself.
I go back to places my parents and I went when I was younger: the local river, a nearby museum or even a local village. I can go with them or by myself, but the entire point is to ground myself.
It doesn’t have to be somewhere nostalgic – it can be anywhere you feel totally calm and, for me, won't bump into anyone I know. I don’t look at my phone, I simply walk around and am present for a little while.
It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t need to take up precious time (especially when I’m stressed about a long to-do list!), but it allows my brain to slow down and to revisit a time when the stresses in my life were very different.
I go back to places my parents and I went when I was younger: the local river, a nearby museum or even a local village.
This feeling won't last forever
When I’m really struggling everything can feel impossible, overwhelming and it feels like it has always been this way and will never change. For me, the best piece of advice I have ever been given is to just sit with it for as long as I need.
Trying to make myself feel better straight away often makes me even more frustrated with myself and could lead to an even further downward spiral. I try to just sit with the feelings and remember that this doesn’t last forever.
Sometimes my feelings are so strong and overwhelming that this won’t work – this is when I need a really physical response.
When I'm struggling I find this can be really hard to do. So when I’m feeling well, I journal and write about how I feel when things are good. Then when I am struggling, I’m able to look back and see better times or quotes which show me that I've been here before but have got through it. And I can get through it again.
Sometimes my feelings are so strong and overwhelming that this won’t work – this is when I need a really physical response. My personal favourite is a cold-ish, clothed shower!
It sounds dramatic and make sure you are safe if you try it, but when I’m distressed I feel very hot. I find cooling off and the weight of the clothing really helps ground me.
I’m able to look back and see better times or quotes which show me that I've been here before but have got through it. And I can get through it again.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times: