It is vital we remove any stigma surrounding mental health and we speak up about it. 1 in 2 people experience bullying at some point in our lives; that’s 1.5 million young people in the last year alone. Of those, only 40% told somebody.

This year the theme of Pupil Voice Week is ‘It’s Your Voice’ which is all about using your voice to promote diversity, individuality and positivity! From the 25th-29th of September, we’ll be encouraging pupil’s to speak up about their mental health and well-being.

Ditch the Label celebrates this important message and this post suggests some great ways you can take care of yourself so you’re happy and healthy – which is just how we like it! Speaking up about mental health is so important and there are loads of ways this can be done!

For example, talking to friends you trust, your parents, a teacher you’re close to or online through various mental health support services. You can also talk to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label here.

So… It’s time to encourage each other to speak up and positively support each other in the school environment.

“We recognise that pupils can only fulfil their potential when they have good mental health and wellbeing. This year’s Pupil Voice Week aims to encourage a long-term change of culture that puts a pupil’s wellbeing and mental health at the heart of the school.” – Pupil Voice Week, Tootoot.

Lets take a look at the best ways you can take care of your mental health and also use your voice to create positivity!

1. Eat and drink well

Food effects your mood! Eating well is something we all struggle with but if you care about what you’re putting in your body you’ll really start to see the benefits!

Have a good breakfast and eat regularly throughout the day to keep your sugar level steady (which means you won’t feel irritable or depressed).

Quit the sugary snacks as they make your blood sugar level fluctuate! Eat more fruit and vegetables so you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Drink more water and cut the caffeine down (as coffee can make you feel anxious, depressed and prevent you from sleeping)!

2. Sleep

Getting plenty of sleep is SO important and helps you feel good. It recharges your batteries, lets your body repair and hello – beauty sleep is a real thing! If you struggle to get to sleep then try and get yourself into a pre-sleep routine.

For example; have a bath, don’t look at any devices like your phone, keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, turn the lights down and try and have quiet time so your brain and body can relax. Try and read a book or magazine in bed instead of watching TV.

3. Exercise

When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body! So try running (which is especially good if you feel stressed or down as it is a great way to clear your mind), engage in a sports club or simply go for a brisk walk with some headphones in and you’re sure to be striding yourself into a happier mood and not to mention a healthier life!

4. Practice mindfulness

Having time to quieten your mind and be still and reflective is so important to gain some perspective. It makes you feel calm and also gives you an opportunity to really listen and get to know yourself.

There are loads of guided meditations on YouTube and apps to help you. Trust me you’ll feel much more relaxed even after your first go!

5. Talk

Yep, use your voice to just let it all out. It’s best if you talk about the more serious stuff with someone you trust. Whether it’s your friends, family, your tutor or a councillor, just chat away until it feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Talking about your problems or how you’re feeling can really open up the doors to receiving some helpful advice which could help fix your problems. The best therapy is talking – a problem shared is a problem halved after all!

6. Pamper yourself

Nothing feels better than having a bubble bath, lighting some candles and then covering yourself in moisturiser! Giving yourself some self love and looking after your body makes you feel fantastic and also means you look great too!

7. Don’t abuse alcohol or substances

It really isn’t cool – no matter how many times your so-called friends encourage you to try it. Drugs and alcohol have negative impacts on your health and well-being. If this is an area you feel you are struggling with then seek out further support so you can get the help you need.

8. Do something creative (even if you’re not good at it)

Just picking up a pen and doodling for a bit or taking some pictures with your phone can get the creative juices flowing! Or why not write a short story or try and bake and decorate a cake!

Whatever it is – using your hands and creating something will give you a great sense of achievement which will make you feel fab! (And if it’s crap don’t worry no one has to see it anyway!)

9. Try and learn something new everyday

Whether at school listening and asking questions or doing some research yourself on a topic which interests you. For example, read up some facts about space – there’s always something really interesting and mind-blowing which can be discovered!

Plus, it’ll impress your family when you drop in some space facts over dinner like the fact that on Venus a single day is approximately the same length as one Earth year!

10. Play a game (which isn’t on your phone – heard of cards?)

We all love a bit of UNO too don’t we? Don’t pretend you don’t! If you get all your family together and interact you’ll have a laugh, chat about all sorts of stuff and feel much more connected to your family which in turn will make you feel good!

11. Visit your Grandma for some tea and cake

Yep, use your voice again and talk stuff over with someone wise like your lovely grandma! Chatting is so therapeutic and grandparents always seem to give great advice. Chat to them about anything – you’ll be really surprised how much they know about everything and anything (after all they’ve been there and done it all, right?)

12. Cuddle an animal

Preferably this unbelievably cute kitten, but if you can’t get this one then I guess another animal will have to do! Stroking and cuddling pets has been proven to help with depression and stress! Pets are super cute and you just can’t help but smile when you see their silly little faces looking up at you!

13. Daydream and don’t let anything prevent you from dreaming big

Daydreaming helps you to understand your mind and makes you realise what you want to achieve in life. If you don’t dream about things then how else would you realise what you like or want from life?

The biggest dreams may seem unreachable but everything from travelling the world to owning a business starts with a dream, so why is it any different for you? See it as dreaming being the start of your career!

Knowing what you want will in turn bring a sense of focus, excitement and happiness as you will feel like you’re on track towards something. Even if it doesn’t work out how you expect, don’t stop dreaming!

14. Keep an organised and tidy room

Yes, you’ll have messy days and you’ll have super clean days but maintaining a clean and tidy room and knowing where things are will help keep your mind organised and calm!

15. Try and take time out from social media every day

Not just 5 minutes! Try an hour offline, you’ll be super surprised at the results! Being a little less available to people is good for your image and self confidence too as you’ll look and feel independent.

The feeling of self control you’ll gain after refraining from checking your phone will make you feel really powerful!

It’s also been proven that the frequent use of smartphones is linked to harmful effects on mental health. So, don’t let your phone control you, you’re in control of your phone, you’ve got this!

17. Enjoy spending time with friends and family in reality (not just on social media)

It’s easy to stay in and sit on social media, especially when the weather isn’t great! But the benefits of using your voice to interact with people in reality are great! Have a sleepover, go to town or meet for coffee! You’ll develop your social skills, you’ll have fun and you might get to know someone on a deeper level.

18. Get involved in drama

Your voice is so powerful and using it with confidence is very powerful! It’s been found that drama clubs are really good for self-esteem as you’ll learn all sorts of skills which will build your confidence. It’s also really fun and you’ll meet new people too! Who knows you might be the next Jennifer Lawrence or Ryan Gosling!

19. Meet some new friends

It’s great to have friends who all know each other. But it’s also really good to have friends from different social groups so you can enjoy a diverse mix of people. It’s also healthy because it’s easy to become dependent on certain people and we all know that in life unfortunately things can go wrong and nothing is ever certain. It’s not always a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket shall we say!

20. Do something nice for someone

For example, cook your family dinner! It’s fun and you’ll also feel really warm and fuzzy inside doing something for someone else. Doing things for others is proven to make you feel good!

There you go! Why not try some of what’s been suggested during Pupil Voice Week and see the results for yourself!

More info:

Toot toot – An app for school pupils to use which has been developed with the support of teachers and other leading governing bodies, with the goal of providing students with a safe, anonymous environment to report and resolve their concerns discretely.

If you found this useful you may find these useful too:

Why do People Bully?

According to our latest research, 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying in some form in the last 12-months. And trust us when we say, we know how difficult it can be to go through it, especially if you don’t fully understand the psychology of bullying.

In this article, we will be exploring the reasons why people bully, using the latest research and psychology to give you a greater understanding of the motives of those who are either bullying you right now or who have done so in the past.

You may have assumed that you get bullied for whatever makes you different or unique, for example: your race, religion, culture, sexual or gender identity, line of work, fashion sense or weight. By the end of this article, you will know that this is not the case at all.

If you want to talk about it – join our community today to start a conversation about bullying and speak to our amazing digital mentors who can help you anonymously without judgement.

The Psychology of Being Bullied

We will explore the reasons why later on in this article, but most frequently, those who bully others are looking to gain a feeling of power, purpose and control over you.

The easiest way of doing this is to focus on something that is unique about you – either preying on or creating new insecurity with an intent to hurt you either physically or emotionally.

What happens is, we, as the people experiencing bullying, start to internalise it and we become self-critical. We want to understand the reasons why we are being targeted and we start to blame ourselves.

As a result, we try to change or mask that unique characteristic in order to avoid the bullying. We dye our hair, bleach our skin, date people we aren’t interested in and cover up our bodies like they are something to be ashamed of.

It starts to affect our behaviour and the ways in which we see ourselves, which in turn, can go on to impact both our mental and physical health.

The way we see bullying is all wrong. It isn’t because we are different in some way.

person, standing, edge, of, shoreline, water. fog. hills

The Real Reasons Why People Bully Others

In a recent Ditch the Label study, we spoke to 7,347 people about bullying. We asked respondents to define bullying and then later asked if, based on their own definition, they had ever bullied anybody. 14% of our overall sample, so that’s 1,239 people, said yes. What we then did was something that had never been done on this scale before; we asked them intimate questions about their lives, exploring things like stress and trauma, home lives, relationships and how they feel about themselves.

In fact, we asked all 7,347 respondents the same questions and then compared the answers from those who had never bullied, those who had bullied at least once and those who bully others daily. This then gave us very strong, scientific and factual data to identify the real reasons why people bully others.

It also scientifically proves that the reason people get bullied is never, contrary to popular belief, because of the unique characteristics of the person experiencing the bullying. So, why do people bully?

Stress and Trauma:

Our data shows that those who bully are far more likely than average to have experienced a stressful or traumatic situation in the past 5 years. Examples include their parents/guardians splitting up, the death of a relative or the gaining of a little brother or sister.

It makes sense because we all respond to stress in very different ways. Some of us use positive behaviours, such as meditation, exercise and talking therapy – all designed to relieve the stress.

Others use negative behaviours such as bullying, violence and alcohol abuse, which temporarily mask the issues but usually make them worse in the long-term.

The research shows that some people simply do not know how to positively respond to stress and so default to bullying others as a coping mechanism.

Aggressive Behaviours:

66% of the people who had admitted to bullying somebody else were male. Take a minute to think about how guys are raised in our culture and compare that to the ways in which girls are raised. The moment a guy starts to show any sign of emotion, he’s told to man up and to stop being a girl.

For girls, it’s encouraged that they speak up about issues that affect them.

For guys, it’s discouraged and so they start to respond with aggressive behaviours, such as bullying, as a way of coping with issues that affect them. This is why guys are more likely than girls to physically attack somebody or to commit crimes. It isn’t something they are born with, it’s a learned behaviour that is actively taught by society using dysfunctional gender norms and roles.

Low Self-Esteem:

In order to mask how they actually feel about themselves, some people who bully focus attention on someone else. They try to avoid any negative attention directed at them by deflecting. But know they might look in the mirror at home and hate the way they look.

There is so much pressure to live up to beauty and fitness standards that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, instead of embracing our own beauty.

They’ve Been Bullied:

Our research shows that those who have experienced bullying are twice as likely to go on and bully others. Maybe they were bullied as kids in the past, or maybe they are being bullied now.

Often it’s used as a defence mechanism and people tend to believe that by bullying others, they will become immune to being bullied themselves. In fact, it just becomes a vicious cycle of negative behaviours.

Difficult Home Life:

1 in 3 of those who bully people daily told us that they feel like their parents/guardians don’t have enough time to spend with them. They are more likely to come from larger families and are more likely to live with people other than their biological parents.

There are often feelings of rejection from the very people who should love them unconditionally. They are also much more likely to come from violent households with lots of arguments and hostility.

Low Access to Education:

Without access to education, hate-based conversation directed at others may be the norm. They may not understand what hate speech is and why speaking about people in a derogatory way is not appropriate.


Finally, those who bully are more likely to feel like their friendships and family relationships aren’t very secure. In order to keep friendships, they might be pressured by their peers to behave in a certain way.

They are more likely to feel like those who are closest to them make them do things that they don’t feel comfortable doing and aren’t very supportive or loving.

man in cap standing in front of a wall featuring art

So there you have it, some of the most common reasons why people bully others.

If you are being bullied, it’s time to put the knowledge to the test. Carry on reading with our article on overcoming bullying. If you are doing the bullying, here are 7 things that you can do to overcome it.

If you are looking for more help – our community is a safe space to discuss your issues and get support from trained digital mentors who will help you without judgement.

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a criminal offence. It is an act of hatred or aggression directed at a specific person, group or their property. It is motivated by hostility or prejudice against:

  • A personal characteristic
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Faith

This may involve bullying, physical assault, verbal abuse and/or insults, damage to property, threatening behaviour, robbery, harassment, offensive letters (hate mail) or graffiti and inciting others to commit hate crimes. The legal consequences for perpetrators can be serious and range from a fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Why Report Hate Crime?

Reporting hate crime is important because it provides a platform from which action can be taken against perpetrators and for the abuse to stop. It can often lead to vital support for the victim and it can also benefit wider society by creating safer public areas.

Hate crime can go unreported for many reasons including:

  • Many people do not know that they can report this kind of abuse
  • People do not know how to report it
  • Some people have reservations or fears around approaching the police or authority figures

An increase in reporting will:

  • Provide more accurate statistics which leads to better services within the justice system and improves how hate crimes are responded to
  • Challenge attitudes and behaviours that endorse hatred towards anyone perceived as ‘different’
  • Encourage early intervention to prevent situations escalating
  • Increase confidence for victims in coming forward to seek support and justice
  • Ensure that the right support is available for those that need it
american, cop, car

How to report Hate Crime

In an emergency, ALWAYS dial 999 or 112 – All calls are free and will be answered by trained operators. If you are in immediate danger, or to report a crime in progress, dial 999 or 112 as above.

Other ways to contact the police:

  • Dial 101 to report non-urgent crimes or to make an enquiry
  • Call in at a police station. You can search by postcode via:
  • In incidents where the victim of a hate crime does not wish to approach the police directly there may be a police liaison officer for their region, or a Community Safety Partnership Department. Call 101 for further advice on this.
  • Reporting hate crime online:
  • Understandably it can sometimes be very difficult to report an incident alone. If you do not have a friend or family member to accompany you, help with reporting via voluntary and other agencies can be found here:
  • You can also report hate crime anonymously via Crimestoppers here: 0800 555 111 /

Always tell someone if you have been the victim of a hate crime. You can speak to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who can help you in dealing with this. Join the community today.

So you think you might be bisexual? Or maybe you are just here for fun. Either way, questioning your sexuality is a completely normal thing to do and a lot of us do it.

In fact, our research shows that over 50% of us don’t identify as fully heterosexual. And our research shows that most of us don’t identify as being 100% heterosexual. How cool is that?!

A quiz can only do a bit of the work, and the truth is your sexuality is something that will evolve and it’s normal to explore and question your sexuality. Right now, you don’t need to rush through any firm decisions. When you know, you will know.

This quiz is just for fun, and remember no internet quiz is going to be able to tell you who you are. Your sexuality is unique to you, and is a spectrum that everyone sits on.

Am I Bisexual Quiz

Thanks for taking the quiz!

If you feel like you want to talk to someone about your result, or if you feel like the quiz got it wrong, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

There are trained Mentors that can offer you advice and support about this and loads of other stuff. You can also connect with other people going through similar things.

How do you know if you’re bisexual?

You’ve taken the quiz and want to learn more about bisexuality?

Bisexuality is a sexual orientation where somebody is attracted to more than one gender. Some identify as bisexual, while others use pansexual, queer, fluid, or no label at all to describe it.

This identity is so powerful. You’re ready to be open and honest about something you value. It’s ok to start off slow – you may not be ready to tell the whole world! We’ve written 13 different tips for coming out as bisexual to help you decide who, when, and how you might tell someone.

We have lots of other guides and advice below. Check out these below for some more info on bisexuality:

It’s a brand new year and we think 2020 should be the year that everyone gets to be their most confident, comfortable, authentic selves. Our CEO Liam Hackett is helping everyone to do just that with the release of his new book ‘Fearless’. We caught up with him to find out all about the book. 

Ditch the Label: Hey Liam, congratulations on your new book! Tell us a bit about it.

 Thanks! So the book is all about finding the confidence to be your true authentic self. It covers all kinds of things, from the fear of being judged and not fitting in, to conquering your fears of being a failure. There’s some incredible colourful illustrations in it, as well as loads of expert quotes and tips and tricks to dealing with life as a young person today.

Basically, it’s there to help all young people break the labels that might be holding them back or keeping them in a box, smash through gender stereotypes, and overcome the fears that stop everyone from being unashamedly themselves. 

Ditch the Label: That sounds awesome! What made you want to write a book about this? 

When I was younger, I was badly bullied. That’s why Ditch the Label was born, to tackle bullying in all its forms to help anyone else going through it. What I went through really affected how I saw myself and my confidence was on the floor. One day, my Grandma asked me why I always walk with my head down. I told her it was because I wasn’t confident. She said something I will never forget which was “confidence is in all of us, but sometimes you have to fake it until you make it”. 

Through Ditch the Label, I have seen so many stories of young people battling with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, and I remember exactly how that felt. I just want to help them become the confident versions of themselves that they can be.

Ditch the Label: What was it like writing a book?

It’s been an amazing experience. It really has been a long term dream of mine, so to have something actually out there is incredible and I still can’t quite believe it. It’s the product of years of hard work, so I’m really excited to have something on the shelves that can really help young people to feel good about themselves and be able to cope with the issues and emotions that so many of us navigate growing up. 

Ditch the Label: How important do you think it is for young people to read something like this?

I think it’s really important. Young people today are up against so much. At Ditch the Label, we’ve seen time and again how much issues such as being judged, coping with emotions and a fear of fitting in can have an impact on their mental health and general wellbeing. This book is designed to break everything down that could be holding them back and then leads them through how to tackle it step-by-step.

The aim is that by the end of the book, they will be equipped with all the tools they need to face the world exactly as they are – and be rightly proud of themselves. And it’s always there for the tough times, they can dip in and out of the book when they need a boost or further support. 

Ditch the Label: What’s your favourite bit? 

Haha – tough question! I’m not sure I can say any one bit of it is my favourite because the whole point is that different parts will help different people in different ways.

It’s basically there to help whenever anyone needs it, whether that be in everything it covers as a whole, or just one or two hints and tips on gaining confidence, being kinder, or expressing themselves. 

DTL: We can’t wait to read it! Is there anything else you want to tell us about it? 

I learned so much myself in writing this book; I had to face my own fears: Was it good enough? Would anyone want to publish it? Scholastic (my publisher) have been amazing through it all!

Finally, I really wish something like this was around when I was growing up. 

The book is available now from all good book shops including Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smith. You can support your local independent through #Fearless.

If you need support, join the Ditch the Label Community here. 

I’m Lewis Hancox – filmmaker, comedy writer, aspiring actor and a transgender advocate. I’m passionate about seeing more trans representation in the media. I love creating comedy sketches and films, writing, directing and acting in them. I’m co-creator of the My Genderation documentary project, telling the stories of the trans community.

Coming out is different for everyone, all I can do is draw from my own experiences and if these nuggets of advice help just one person then my job is done!

I’ve worked with Hollyoaks, Lucky Tooth Films, Channel 4 and All About Trans. My work has featured on BBC3, Latest TV, The Guardian, DIVA Magazine and more. I’m an ambassador for All About Trans and patron for the National Diversity Awards. I don’t pretend to be an expert on trans issues.

1. Come Out To Yourself

They say ‘how can others love you when you don’t love yourself?’ It can be hard enough just to accept yourself, never mind love yourself! But self-acceptance is the first step towards living your life authentically.

I used to be really embarrassed of feeling like a boy when my body disagreed. So I bottled everything up throughout high school and college. It took me time to realise that being transgender didn’t make me any less of a guy, or more importantly, any less of a person.

We’re all different in our own right and we should embrace those differences. You should feel good in knowing that you’ve figured out the root of the problem – it’s all uphill from here.

2. Make Connections

It’s good to chat with other trans folk and what better way to do this than from the comfort of your own home. There is a multitude of vlogs on YouTube and loads of support groups on Facebook, full of people eager to make new friends and talk all things trans.

The tiny Northern town I come from doesn’t have any trans support groups – in fact, most residents probably don’t know what the word ‘transgender’ means! Luckily, I discovered a whole community of gender variant individuals online. I got chatting with some inspirational people and, ultimately, it feels great to have a support network from the off.

3. Family Meeting

Okay, so it doesn’t have to be as formal as a ‘meeting’… but gathering your family (or close friends) together to explain your situation means you don’t need to go through the nerve-wracking process as many times. It also means you can do a bit of a ‘Q & A’, because there will be many questions!

Equally, if the thought of being in the spotlight is daunting, just tell one person at a time – whatever feels right. Try to remain calm and explain yourself as best you can. Consider referring them to videos of trans people and educational sites. If those who care about you react negatively, it may be because they’re scared for you. By introducing positive representations of trans people via vlogs and films, you’re showing them that transitioning can lead to a happy, healthy life.

4. A Little Patience

You have to prepare yourself for some not-so-positive reactions. Not everyone is going to understand straight away. The hope is that those who know you the best will realise you’re being true to yourself.

Other people may think you’re confused – when really, it’s them who are confused! Further down the line when those around you see how much more comfortable and confident you are since transitioning, they’ll surely realise that this was right for you. And if they don’t, maybe they’re not worth being in your life. Even some of my best friends struggled with calling me by my new name and male pronouns at first.

It’s not only people you need to be patient with – it’s the whole journey. As soon as I discovered that I was trans, I wanted to snap my fingers and be fully transitioned! The reality is it can take a few years to get hormones and surgery. Not everyone wants to medically transition of course. You are who you feel you are, regardless of the physical.

5. The Name Game

My first thought was that ‘I’m male’… Only later in life did it hit me that in order to ‘live in society as male’ I’d have to change my name. You may have a nickname, or you may be happy with your birth name and not feel the need to change it at all – if you have a gender-neutral name, that’s ideal! If you do want to change it however, you can do this for around £30 via deed poll online. But do take your time in choosing a name! It could be something similar to your original name, to make it easier for others (and yourself) to adjust.

I went from Lois to Lewis… not much of a change there! Some people want to change theirs to something completely different. Why not ask opinions from friends and family to make them feel included?

6. Call The Doctor

Physically transitioning begins at your local GP. They can refer you a local psychologist who can then refer you on to the Gender Clinic. I hadn’t been to my GP in years before that all-important appointment. I was terrified and didn’t know how to explain myself. If I could go back in time, I’d say it with confidence and make sure I got what I needed.

More often than not doctors aren’t so clued up on trans issues. They need to respect that this is not a lifestyle choice – this is how you were born. There are even studies that show the white matter in a trans man’s brain resembles that of a biological male’s brain, and vice versa for trans women. But let’s not get too scientific… just get that referral!

7. Living Proof

When I was first told by the Gender Clinic they needed proof in the form of documents I was ‘living as male’, I was dumbfounded. I retorted that I’d lived my whole life as male because I WAS male!

Looking back now, I do understand why they need proof. It’s helpful that they push you in that direction because that’s generally the aim anyway, to transition in all areas of life. So, you need to make sure that once you’ve changed your title and name, you alter your ID and also inform your school, college or workplace so that they can change your details there too.

This doesn’t mean you need to come out to the whole world, just tell those who are in change and can sort out your documentations. Take it all at your own pace and remember there are laws in place for discrimination, so no need to be scared.

8. Press Play

I put my life on pause for years because of transitioning. I pushed all of my ambitions to one side and couldn’t focus on anything else. Now I have a lot of catching up to do! If there were only one bit of advice I could give to someone trans, it would be to not let transitioning stop you from achieving your dreams.

Foremost, I’m a filmmaker, writer, actor, boyfriend, best friend, son, coffee-drinker, doodler, daydreamer… being transgender is such a small part of who I am and the same goes for you.

So invest your energy into something worthwhile. Why not get creative, use your experiences to inspire you – write a blog, a song, a script. Make a film, a comic, a collage. Keep positive and don’t lose yourself. Yeah, it can be a difficult and frustrating journey but everything is hard before it gets easy.

For more inspiration and to keep up with Lewis, don’t forget to follow @MrLewzer on Twitter.

Can we guess your gender? Take the quiz and find out >>

If you would prefer the easier to read version – please click here.

Do you need to talk to someone about your gender? Got anything else on your mind? You can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.

So, the big week is finally here and it’s time to ship most of your worldly possessions to a far-flung corner of the UK so you can start Fresher’s Week, or to your first uni house with all your best buds. Exciting right? Well, it might not be so great if you have anxiety. We’ve got some great tips on how to cope, so you can still enjoy every moment without feeling overwhelmed. 

1) Go at your own pace

… Especially if this is the start of your uni journey. It can be really easy to get swept up in the craziness of freshers week, and the pressures of making friends, knowing a new town and doing well when the real work starts. Instead of trying to do too much, make sure you do the first few few weeks at your own pace and on your own terms. If you want to take a break from the craziness, do that. If you want to take in the city on your own instead of joining a tour, do that. This is your experience, remember that. 

2) Take a moment to yourself when you need it 

So it’s the big night out with your new or returning pals, and you are feelin’ it. But then, when people start coming over before you all head out, you suddenly feel that familiar feeling of panic building. Don’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t necessarily want to. Forcing yourself out when you don’t feel good is a quick way to end the night on a low.

Instead, when you feel yourself starting to panic, go to your room, close the door and put on some chill music. Sit on your bed or chair and focus on breathing steadily and evenly for two minutes. That should hopefully have you feeling a little more like yourself. 

3) Schedule some time every week for you to do you 

Everyone can get caught up in the whirlwind of life from time to time, but a good way to keep a lid on anxiety is to make regular times throughout the week to check in with yourself. If you need to chill and watch a movie alone, do it. If reading makes you feel better, curl up with a good book. Whatever it is, it should make you feel relaxed, and give you the chance to put a little distance between yourself and the day. 

4) Keep in touch with those close to you 

We all do it. Head off into the world and quickly forget to stay in touch with all the people we love. If you throw a messages in the group chat, call your family or WhatsApp your best friend, it might help you feel a bit more grounded. The people in our lives before uni have known us for ages, so they will understand if you want to chat about what is making you feel so stressed. 

5) Find out about uni mental health services 

If you are worried about your anxiety and stress levels, find out about where your uni mental health services are. They should have loads of information, groups and other things that can help you out without having to be referred by the GP, and it could really help you keep on top of it. 

6) Find an ally 

Even if you only find one great person at uni to be your ally in your anxiety, it’s great to have someone around who can be supportive of you. For tips on making friends at uni, give this list a read

7) Stay on top of your diet 

Pot Noodles and balck coffee might be the staple of your life when you aren’t at home with a fridge full of delicious food bought by your parents. The thing is, a bad diet can have a lot to answer for. It can make it harder for you to cope with stress, can mess with your sleep, ruin your concentration and keep your mood low for days. Try making sure you are having three meals a day, and if at least some of that is made up of vegetables, you’re laughing.

8) Step out of your comfort zone once in a while 

It might seem a bit counter-intuitive to get out of your comfort zone if you are dealing with anxiety, but giving yourself the chance to see what you can do when you are at your best is a good motivator. You never know, you might find a new hobby that could make you happy, or meet some awesome new people that could help you through your anxiety. 

9) Get organised 

Tidy room, tidy mind, and all that. Keeping your spaces clean and clutter free can make them a really relaxing place to be, meaning that, when your day has been a bit much, you aren’t also overwhelmed by the volume of dirty laundry that covers your bedroom floor. Mark your plans in your phone so you don’t end up double booking yourself, and you can see when you have some busy times coming up and can prepare for them. 

10) Remember, you aren’t in this alone

Having anxiety can make you feel lonely, especially when you are at uni where everyone seems to be having the best time. It’s really important to remember that you are not alone in this, and that you can get through it. 

If you feel like you need support, you can speak to one of our trained mentors confidentially here.

A group of people graduating and throwing their caps in the air.

September brings the end of summer and the end of summer means back to school. We know, you didn’t want to hear it yet but it’s time to face up to the denial and admit you’re going to uni pretty damn soon. If you’re going into your first year then we’ve got some good news; we’ve made a list of all the situations you’re likely to find yourself in before you actually find yourself in them. Just a helping hand – you’re welcome.

1) The “Missing’ Food

The fridge debate is an age-old university problem. Who gets what shelf, how do we split up the door shelves and which unlucky one is stuck with the weird plastic bin-like drawers at the bottom. What really adds salt to the wound is the secret robberies that take place. Like when some rascal keeps stealing your milk and you don’t know who it is. Sure, you’ve got your suspects but you need cold, hard evidence to accuse someone of such a heinous crime. This is why people start writing their names on everything. That’s probably not a sign of a healthy flat dynamic though. 

2) Accidentally Over-Shopping

Right, so you go to the shops because you need to pick up one little thing and you end up leaving with nine more items than you wanted in the first place. Don’t worry, you’ll still forget the only thing you came into the shops for. Like that time you bought all the ingredients for a really nice pasta – chicken, a nice mushroom sauce, parmesan cheese – and then forgot to get any pasta. We’ve all done it. To be fair it’s bloody hard to not notice all the cool things they sell at supermarkets – who knew they did vegan magnums? Unreal.

3) Homesickness

It’s a totally normal and human thing to get homesick. It doesn’t make you weak that you’re missing your family, your dog or your bed and we guarantee that everyone else will go through it at some point as well. You’re in a new environment with new people you don’t properly know yet and sometimes you need a good cuddle without anyone asking why. The best thing you can do is call home (maybe even a FaceTime if your parents are tech savvy enough) and have a good catch up. Then ask your closest mate at uni if they fancy going out for a pint/tea/coffee/food or whatever; just so you can have a good chat. Don’t feel like you have to chat to them about it but, equally, it can be helpful to do so. Remember that you’ll see them before you know it. 

4) Physical Sickness 

Everyone does this one. You spend all week pulling all-nighters, overtired and eventually, mixed with the endless pot noodles and ready meals for dinner, you’ll fall ill. They call it ‘Freshers Flu’ but here’s how to recover when you inevitably get it. Start resting and eat properly. It’s too easy to eat what you want because Mum’s not about to tell you to eat your vegetables. But, trust Mum, it’s in your best interest to eat well and look after yourself. You never listen. You’ll learn at some point. Mum’s not angry, just disappointed.

5) Spending Half the Time in Your Mates Room

Honestly, there’s something so comforting about sitting in your best mates room, three hours into a deep chat about the state of the government, when you only popped your head round the door to ask if they wanted a tea. We know it seems daunting now, but these people will become your best mates and you’re going to be spending a lot of time together – so make the effort to get to know them now. 

6) How to Cook/Wash/Survive by Yourself

God knows why they don’t teach you this stuff at school. A washing machine looks like a big, unsolvable Rubik’s Cube to us. Cooking, washing and managing not to die is a big part of growing up so looks like it’s time to learn how. It doesn’t mean that your flatmates will learn how to clean though. Be prepared to walk in on an Olympic level game of ‘Bin Tetris’ because no one wants to take it out, or a search for a clean mug because all of them are dirty in the sink thanks to your flatmates. You’ll be fine. Probably. 

7) Pasta is Your Best Friend

Carbs, carbs, carbs. The perfect uni student runs off copious amounts of pasta. They’ve progressed from the pot noodles and microwave meals onto the sustainable future: endless bowls of pasta. Sometimes you might even eat it straight out of the saucepan. Saves on washing up doesn’t it?

8) We’re All in the Same Boat

We know it’s nerve wracking to meet so many new people; especially the ones you’re living with for the next year. But remember, you’re all in the same situation. Try to keep calm, take some deep breaths and knock on your neighbour’s door to say hello. People will also be grateful for the chance to get out of their room and introduce themselves too.

For more advice, LOL’s and life hacks, follow our Instagram @DitchtheLabel.

We know that making friends is hard. You can’t just go up to a kid on the playground and offer to share your KitKat like you could in Primary School. It can be pretty scary to try to make friends as an adult. Now summer is drawing to a pretty rainy conclusion, and it’s time to head off on new adventures, the important thing to remember is that everyone feels like this from time to time. That’s why we have put together a super quick guide to making friends wherever you are heading to in September. You got this. 

1) Help your flatmates move in 

Moving can be really stressful, so if you are there early, get yourself settled so you can be an extra pair of hands for your flatmates who come a little later. Not only will be a great chance to get to know them a little, but will probably be very welcome from them and their parents. 

2) Be a pro tea maker 

It sounds ridiculous but seriously, hone your tea making skills now before you go and be ready to stick the kettle on. Sharing a cup of tea with a flatmates post moving in will be a great chance to chat, and knocking on doors in the flat and offering one around will give everyone else the opportunity to come out of their rooms and say hello. Everyone will actually probably be super grateful for the excuse as we bet they will be feeling a bit shy too. 

3) Make your room nice

A win for you, a win for your Mum, and a win for your flatmates. If your room is a total state, chances are your flatmates won’t be too keen on spending any time in there, and will probably get a negative first impression of you as well. When you move in, take an hour to throw a few cushions on the bed, put up some posters and set up your tech. Same goes for the rest of the flat by the way – don’t give your flatmates a reason to grumble about you by being the person that leaves dishes to fester in the sink for several thousand years. 

4) Join societies 

At the Fresher’s Fair, you will sign up to about forty societies, pay the fee, give them your email, and probably never ever go along to Mahjong meet-up or the Pokémon Club or whatever. A good way to avoid this will be to do a little research before you go and find a few societies you like the look of. Have a look what else is there on the day but restrict yourself to signing up to a few, and go to all the introductory meetings for them. 

5) Go to the course induction 

It can be super tempting to sack off any and all obligations in the first few weeks of uni in favour of hanging out with your flatmates. However, whilst it’s great that you might want to spend loads of time with them now, you will be spending a lot of time over the next three years with people from your course. Get a coffee, get out of bed and go and introduce yourself at the course induction, no matter how you feel.


6) Go to as many classes as possible in the first few weeks… 

We know your Mum already thinks you are going to every class on your schedule, but we also know that maybe that isn’t exactly your plan. But, the best thing you can do to make friends on your course is the easiest – be present. Go to all of your classes in the first few weeks, and try chatting to lots of different people. You will find that you might end up meeting some ace people to spend lecture time with who aren’t in your seminars, so find some people in those too. 

7) …And then go for post lecture lunches

Drop into conversation that you fancy going for a bit of a post-learning lunch or coffee and see if anyone around you fancies one too. That way, you can have a chance to get to know a few people away from work, and try out a few food places around campus as well. Win-win. 

8) Go to the halls socials too 

Chances are you are going to be living in some sort of halls of residence for your first year at uni. Even though your flatmates are probably going to feel like the centre of your universe for the next year, going to the halls socials in the first few weeks of term will let you get to know people in other flats and rooms in your building, and widen your circle a bit. 

Feeling lonely? Talk to one of our trained support mentors here.

So maybe it was just never the plan. Maybe you’ve got your results and they didn’t turn out too great. Maybe you are going in a few years. Whatever the reason behind it, results day can be a difficult day to be one of those people not going to university in September. If you aren’t going, it can be easy to feel left out of the excitement and buzz around where everyone will be heading off to, and as people start to pack up their Mum’s cars and move, it can be a pretty crap time to be staying at home. That’s why we put together a list of things you can do to help you deal with staying at home next year. 

1) Map out your future

Grab a journal and a cup of tea and sit down to make a plan. Try thinking about where you want to be this time next year and write that at the top of the page, and write down everything you can do to make that happen. Then, on the opposite page, try writing down the steps in order, and when you want them all to be done by. 

You can do this not just for next year, but for five years’ time if you are still unsure if whether university is for you. This way, you can have a think about if an apprenticeship or other training courses are the best route to make it to your goal. 

It might sound a bit like a crappy exercise they made you do in school, but it will probably save you a big load of stress in the long run, give you something to get excited about just like your pals, and you won’t be feeling crappy at the results night party when everyone is talking about where they are heading in a few weeks. 

2) Research what you are doing 

Get excited about your plans by putting some time aside over the next few weeks to research the hell out of whatever your plans are. If you are heading off backpacking around South East Asia, take a look at all the amazing photographs of your must-do sights on Instagram. If you are delaying uni by a year or two, research the city you will end up in and find some cool places to hang out in. Basically, research might not have been your thing when you were in school, but when you are thinking about the adventure of a lifetime, you might find it gets a bit easier. 

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3) Set reminders to message friends

This one obviously depends on what you and your friends are usually like. But, setting reminders on your phone every other week to check in with your pals that have headed off to uni already is an easy way to remember to stay in touch.

Life has a bit of a crappy habit of getting in the way, and before you know it, four months might have gone by without so much as a meme on the group chat. This way, you are still being the best pal you can be, despite the fact that everyone has flown the nest. 

4) Book in visits before your mates leave 

Before everyone goes their separate ways, get something in the calendar for you all to get excited about. It can be super easy for you all to get wrapped up on whatever you are going to be doing over the next few months, but having something in the diary will take the stress out of having to organise it super last minute before you head off travelling and everyone has essay deadlines up to their eyeballs. 

5) Celebrate your achievements

No matter what, enjoy yourself today. It doesn’t matter where you are going, or not going, the important thing to do is to take your time to celebrate what you have achieved this year and every year throughout school, sixth form or college. This day, whatever it holds, is the result of seven years of all the hard work and stress you’ve had through school. Even if you didn’t get the results you hoped for, or your plans have changed for next year, you deserve to have some fun. 

If you are struggling with feeling left out or don’t what you are going to do next year, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, for one to one and peer support.