Updated: Apr 5
Now as the outside world has changed, homeschooling is not going to be easy for some of us. Our brothers and sisters are going to be around all the time. This is not going to be like the summer holidays where you are not learning and could go out and about. Some of us are going to need some support with our mental health.
As with any new skill, self-help can take time and practice.
In the same way that reading a cookery book will not make you instantly a great cook, simply reading this advice won’t make you happier or healthier.
But with time, exploration and practice of self-help techniques, it is possible for everybody to increase their resilience and experience good emotional health.
As home schoolers, we need to plan our time and we take responsibility for what we do. We can simple add these tips into our daily schedule. These tips are proven to manage emotional and help maintain good emotional well-being. We are all individuals not all these tips will help everyone. You may find a combination of some of them will work well for you and a different set of tips work equally well for you study buddy.
Control Your Breathing
Taking quick and shallow breaths is very common if your anxious, angry irritable or stressed.
If you notice you are doing this, try and slow your breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Take deeper down, calming breaths, using your diaphragm (Breath deep so your tummy moves) rather than your upper chest. Getting into a regular rhythm of in-two-three and out-two-three-four and this should help your breathing calm and return to normal. While you are breathing in, let your tummy expand and feel your ribs move outwards. Imagine you are trying to inflate a balloon in and deflating it, as you breath out.
Some very simple techniques are:
· Take a 5-minute break alone to clear your head regularly.
· Listen to some relaxing music (what makes you relax is subjective so the choice of
music is up to up but avoid music with lyrics that are designed to ramp up your
· Read a good book, comic or magazine
· Take a warm bath
· Exercise – yoga and Thai Chia are very good at making you focus only on your body
· Watch something like Blue Planet which is calming.
Deep muscle relaxation is great for anyone who gets stressed or anxious. You can do this by:
1. Choose your most relaxed time of the day. (I find first thing in the morning is good for me. However, you might find later in the day best.)
2. Finding a quiet, warm and comfortable place. (you may have to negotiate with your brothers and sisters to leave you alone for the next 30 minutes or have them join you.
3. Lie or sit down, get comfortable, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes, breath slowly and calmly.
4. Breath in when your tense your muscles and breathe out when you relax them – notice/think about the difference between when they are tense and when they are relaxed.
5. Now focus on your body, tense and relaxing each muscle group in this order
a. Feet: point your toes away from your body, hold, and then relax.
b. Calves: bend your foot at the ankle towards you, hold, and then relax.
c. Thighs: push your knees together, hold, and then relax.
d. Glutes: tense your bottom muscles, hold, and then relax.
e. Stomach: pull in your stomach muscles, hold and then relax.
f. Hands: clench your fists, hold, and then relax.
g. Arms and shoulder: hunch your shoulders up towards your ears, hold, and then relax.
i. Jaw: clench teeth together, hold, and then relax.
j. Forehead: frown hard, wrinkle your forehead, hold, and then relax.
Distraction Are Needed
If your brothers and sisters are starting to get on your nerve and you can concentrate on learning and this is beginning to get you feeling a little bit frustrated - then a distraction is needed. We need to notice the frustration before it becomes a feeling of anger. If you have the space at home them create a bit of space between you by leaving the room. Don’t be unrealistic that this will stop small people form expanding their game in to your space.
Face a black piece of wall or look at the ceiling. Focus you mind on something other than your brothers and sisters and the feeling of frustration or a creeping feeling of stress. For example: describing an object to yourself; counting backwards form 100, picturing and describing a safe and happy place or memory, focusing on your sense, or speaking with or meeting a friend.
I have walked round Virginia Water Lake so many times, I can now do a virtual walk around of my favourite viewpoints.
Challenge Your Thinking
Sometimes brothers and sisters do take delight in winding each other up. But a lot of the time - they wind us up simply by being themselves. Think before you speak – is it you who is just a little bit irritable? It is better to reflect and challenge how your think.
Remember, you cannot control how other people behave or what they say but you can control your response to it all.
Think about the situation that concern you and how you have behaved and jot down the unhelpful thoughts you have had during these times.
If you are a teenager, you need to understand that the changes in your body make your hyper sensitive to emotions - you tend to over generalise or over personalise events try hard to see the other persons point of view and depersonalise it.
It can help if you can:
· Think about what the evidence for and against these unhelpful thoughts? What are
other reasons or explanations could there be for something happening or how
· How many times have you had these thoughts and has your worst fear ever actually
· Imagine what you would say to a friend if they were having similar thoughts about
themselves. Then write it down and try saying these things to yours self.
· Think about and visualize how you could behave or think differently in situations to
help you feel better.
Right now, your parents may be feeling the stress, they are probably worried about work, money, food and getting through this. As much as possible be helpful: entertain your younger brothers and sister if you can. Don’t wind them up regardless of how much pleasure you would get out of it.
Challenge Your Fear
Don’t let fear be the reason you were rude, hurtful, unkind or violent. As well as challenging your thoughts, you can actually challenge what you do.
This is a very strange time to be living through. You might be worried about your exams etc. Don’t be! As a society, this is effecting all of us and nobody can say they don’t know what is happening.
So What? So what: if your exam results have to be estimated by your teacher? Everyone else in this year’s exam group will have to have the same and employers will know this, so will colleges. So what: if you have to take the exams at a later date? You have been given extra time to prepare, use it wisely.
I know that is easier for me to say that it is your you to read or hear. Your school or college will have been prepping you for these exams for a very long time and they are an important part of your life as an individual. But life outside the exam hall right now - is more important.
Do Something Creative
Evidence shows that doing something creative can help people feel better and provide opportunities to be mindful.
You can try drawing, colouring-in, painting, sewing, wood work etc. Look out for our suggestions on the blog, calendar and events pages of the website.
Be Kind to and Look After Yourself
Your general emotional well-being is an important part of how well you fell each day.
We often say to ourselves that “we will do what we enjoy when we feel better.”
However, we are more likely to feel better when we do what we enjoy. Therefore, start doing what you enjoy now - to make yourself feel better!
Be kind to yourself and others by avoiding harsh and hurtful conversations.
Remember some words cannot be taken back once said and the damage to the other person can be immense.
I want you to seriously hold on to the saying “Least said - soonest mended.”
You might be in a mood and you might genuinely think whatever you want to say is actually true and right - at that moment. But moods and thoughts and ideas are endlessly changing. In time, you might be shocked you thought that, whatever that was, in that very brief moment you thought it. So, don’t say it!
Instead, incorporate one to two things that make you happy in to your day.
At the end of the day write down all the good things and positive things that have happened in that day. Keeping a record of how you and your family have overcome these very different times in positive ways will strengthen all of your family’s mental health.
There is a stereotypical joke about how teenagers communicate in mono-grunts. I know that is not true as all of the teenagers I work with talk to me no problems. Sometimes it hard to get you to stop!
Joking aside it is very important to talk things over with friends, family and loved ones or even other people that you can trust, (that does not include people in chat rooms or random strangers on the internet – they are not to be trusted).
Good communication with other people is important because it influences all types of relationships, whilst poor communication can make the isolation feel worse.
There are three key skills in communication:
1. Actively listening to what the other person is saying
2. Expressing what you think and feel in a non-judgmental way – it is ok to disagree!
3. Accepting other people’s opinions and feelings, (that means that you also understand that
moods, thoughts and ideas change and what somebody thinks or says today might be
different as time passes.)
If the lock down, self-isolation and social isolation is getting you down – speak up! We have a forum on the website you can use. You can call me if you need to.
Those of you who are being home schooled already for mental health issues have the emergency code to get hold of me. I will do my best to get back to you asap.
If your Skype or FaceTime session is delayed, it may be cause I am on a call that need to be longer than planned. Please be patient. Think that your fellow study buddy might need my attention for a good reason.
Assertiveness is very different form being aggressive – where you don’t consider the other person’s rights, and being passive – where you do not consider your own rights.
Being assertive is where our feelings, thoughts and beliefs are communicated in an open and honest manner, without going against the rights of other people.
When being assertive we are able to express our needs and emotions to others, which includes saying ‘no’ to others and expressing personal opinions without feeling self-conscious or feeling that you have to be very careful how you say something.
If you are saying ‘no’ because you don’t want to help - you may sometimes actually be being selfish. We all have to muck in together.
However, if somebody is saying ‘no’ to playing a game, then respect that.
Remember above all: you cannot control what others do or say but you can control your response.