Eating disorders can be tricky to handle. If you have one, or know someone who does, it can be tough to know what’s happening or sort fact from fiction. There are lots of things that we often automatically think are true about eating disorders that actually are not, and there lots of different types that can affect people differently. So we wanted to bust some myths around disordered eating so that you feel more informed, and can ask for help

Myth 1: It’s only girls that get eating disorders

Anyone, regardless of gender, can develop an eating disorder. Whilst young women aged between 12 and 20 are the most likely to develop an eating disorder, because most people think it’s just for girls, a lot of cases in guys will go undiagnosed for longer. Talking about having an eating disorder is hard for anyone, but when you are part of a minority within the group, it can be even harder.

Myth 2: It’s only teenagers that get them too

Like we said above, anyone can develop one. Just because they are more common in younger girls does not mean that you can’t get one as a 23 year old man, a 9 year old, or any other age. Mental health issues do not discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity or religion, and anyone can develop any one. Because a lot of society thinks that it’s only young girls developing eating disorders, a lot of those dealing with them in older age brackets struggle to get the support they need, or face further stigma for developing a mental health condition usually associated with young women. 

Myth 3: It’s a behaviour you can choose not to do

No one chooses to have an eating disorder. In the same way we don’t choose to develop depression, catch a cold or anything else related to our health, eating disorders are mental health issues that need to be treated. 

Myth 4: You have to look a certain way to have an eating disorder

A big misconception with eating disorders is that you have to look a certain way before it’s classed as “real”. As with any mental health issue, eating disorders come in stages, and the earlier one is caught, the more quickly someone will be able to overcome it. Of course, this means that you might not fit the stereotypical image of someone with an eating disorder. But that does not make you any less worthy of help and support. 

Myth 5: Eating disorders are easy to overcome alone

The best thing to do if you think you or someone you know might be dealing with an eating disorder is to ask for help. They are difficult to handle, and can be complex to try to defeat for good. Going to a parent, friend or trusted adult is a great way to start the conversation and they might be able to direct you to the support that’s needed. 

Myth 6: It’s only an eating disorder if you do certain things

There are lots of stereotypes around eating disorders, but a key one is that you only have one if you excessively exercise or binge and purge. In fact, there are lots of different ways disordered eating behaviours can manifest. For example, it could be that these things only happen intermittently, or for short periods of time. These are classed as an OSFED, or Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. People suffering with an OSFED are just as worthy of treatment as anyone with typical anorexia or bulimia. 

Myth 7: Asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure 

It is really important to know that no matter what you are struggling with, asking for help is NEVER weak or a sign of failure. If you don’t feel like you have anyone in your life you can talk to right now, or you’re worried about upsetting them, you can come to us. Reach out to our support community here, and we will listen to you. 

If you have been affected by any of the information in this article, you can reach out to our support community here for free confidential support and advice. 

For more information on how to deal with mental health issues, go to our Mental Health hub for all the information you need. 

Our ambassador Max Hovey talks about what he finds helpful when he’s dealing with anxiety

I hate anxiety, I really F***ing do. It creates so many problems and can be such a hindrance to me in most walks of life. But the fact I have to face is that it’s just how my brain works. I can’t beat myself up for it, my brains just trying its best. The healthiest thing to do is to simply accept it as a fact, and gradually we can learn to live with it more peacefully.

I think literally the worst thing a person can hear when experiencing anxiety, anxious thoughts or an anxiety attack is “calm down”. It’s the equivalent to telling someone that is depressed to “cheer up”. It’s a complete invalidation of someone’s emotions and mental state and is probably the least helpful thing you can say. The thing I have found most helpful is if someone helps me to breathe by reminding me to take deep breaths. When someone breathes with me and helps to bring my breathing pattern back to normal, within a short period of time, I will be calm.

The problem with this is that I’m not always going to have someone there to breathe with me. I’m not always going to have someone there to make me feel safe, tell me everything’s ok, and to get me to take deep breaths. The last thing anyone should become when suffering with anxiety is co-dependent. The idea of medication, therapy and coping mechanisms is to teach us how to gradually deal with anxiety by ourselves and to help ourselves to breathe through it. Sure, there will still be times that we still need some help, but the aim of this is to minimise the amount of additional support that we need.

I myself have learned many techniques for my anxiety over the years. Some have been incredibly beneficial, others not so much. My first round of therapy taught me more practical methods such as thought diary’s:

A thought diary is a way of noting down your thought process and then picking it apart piece by piece, and figuring out how true the thought is, and redirecting it into a more positive and rational thought process.

Whilst thought diaries had become helpful for me, I have a very hectic lifestyle and am almost always busy. So, when some anxiety arises, I don’t have the time to stop for 10 minutes to write down my thought process and tell myself I’m being irrational, sometimes it just isn’t practical. So, I began to learn that there are some techniques that are good for short-term anxiety relief and some that are better for long-term. 

Short-term Anxiety Relief:

  1. Counting down from 100 – This is the most recent technique that my therapy has taught me. This takes up a lot more brain activity as you have to think more consciously about what number comes next. This is a great way to distract your brain, stop it spiralling and bring yourself to the present moment. 
  1. Square Breathing – I learned this technique in my yoga practices. The act of square breathing involves breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts, exhaling for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts – and repeat. Doing this will naturally slow your breathing and help to slow your heartbeat back down to something more manageable. If like me you experience the joy of palpitations during anxiety, then this will be super helpful for you. 
  1. Calming Statements – Imagine someone was just continuously insulting you, you’d start to feel and about yourself, right? And you definitely wouldn’t do that to someone else, so why would it make any sense to do that to yourself? The way you speak to yourself matters. When negative or self-depreciating thoughts arise, have some calming statements memorised that can help put a stopper in that spiral. For example: for me, I really struggle with the idea of doing or getting things wrong, I’m a perfectionist. So, when I do do something wrong, it is easy to put myself down. A calming statement my therapist has taught me is “I prefer not to do anything wrong, but it’s not essential”. The whole idea of this is that not doing something wrong is simply a preference, we’re human and we’ll get things wrong from time to time!

Longer-term Anxiety Relief:

  1. Thought Diary – Now, if you do have the time for a thought diary, these can be great for stopping your anxious spirals. Whilst these are not a permeant fix, these will be better at addressing the problem directly rather than a short-term distraction. If committed to, a thought diary will become a more natural technique that can become second nature to you, helping you deal with anxiety more readily when it arises. 
  1. Zigzag Technique – This may sound weird, but this is a way of having an argument with your brain. Your natural response to anxiety may be to panic and think worst case scenario – this is the part that we want to lose. By using the zigzag technique, we are able to lay out what we are saying ourselves that is negative and then argue against it. The whole point of this argument is to keep going until you have no more negatives or “attacks” to give, helping you to realise the irrationality of your automatic thought process. This can be quite time consuming, but again with practice can become very powerful.
  1. Education – A lot of what therapy is, is homework. Both my courses of treatment have had me doing activities at home to help me develop my own skills to “become my own therapist”. A really helpful tool is books. Sure, there are a lot of self-help books that generally regurgitate the same thing as everything else, but some can actually be really helpful and insightful. Some that have proven to be a great changer of attitudes are:
  • A New Earth and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • F**k it by John C. Parkin (my personal favourite)
  • Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley

Anxiety is a bitch. None of us like it, and more people have it than we care to admit. But we cannot let it beat us. So, here are a few tips that may help you. Just know that it is ok not to be ok, it’s ok to have anxiety and it’s ok to have for help. You’ve got this!

Stay True,

Max xo

When I was first given the opportunity to write for Ditch the Label back in February, one of my first ideas was for an article like this. However, back then I had got it all wrong.

This September (two and a half weeks ago at the time of writing) I started Sixth Form at a brand new school, and it has completely refreshed my perspective on the friendships I had before.

You see, back in February, I wasn’t as happy as I thought. I was fine, on the whole–I did well at school, enjoyed studying all my GCSE subjects (and when I say this I am NOT counting Maths), had supportive, easy to talk to teachers and was, on the whole, doing pretty well. 

However, no matter the learning environment provided by the school, or how engaging and supportive the teachers are, the one thing they cannot control, which is super important to any teenager in school, is who you sit with at lunch. This simple aspect of the day felt like it would then dictate who you hang out with at breaktime, and leave with after school, and gossip in lessons with. When you don’t have that, it can make school feel very isolating. 

When I walked into the dining hall in Year 10, I would be unsure where my place was. At break time, I hung around the common room occasionally chiming into the conversation, but not feeling hugely wanted by people. In lessons I would studiously pay attention to the teacher, and I never seemed to have people to meet up with outside of school.

I don’t have trouble making friends–I formed solid friendships with students in the years above and below. It wasn’t that the other students were nasty to me either–in lessons, I got along with the other kids in my classes just fine, and was able to have friendly conversations and work well as a group. But I was never able to form a proper, lasting relationship with anyone in my year group. Contrary to everything I had heard about what secondary school was meant to be like, I hadn’t found my crowd.

When I had the idea of writing this in February, I got it all wrong. Back then, I wanted to write what was pretty much a step-by-step guide for other kids in this situation. I wanted to write something that would show me how I could get myself out of that situation, and to feel less alone. But now I realise that that sort of guide doesn’t, and can’t, exist. 

The most important words of wisdom I can give for anyone who feels out of place, lonely, or like they just don’t fit in at school, is that you are not alone

We are sold this idea of our school days being ‘the best days of our lives’, filled with stupid pranks, teenage parties and raucous days out. The truth is, that doesn’t happen for all of us. Some don’t want to, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those of us who do, we can sometimes get hooked on the idea of the ‘typical teenage experience’. 

First of all, it’s worth noting that the way the world works for our generation is completely different to our parent’s generation–teenagers in our day have far more parental restriction than the generations before us, and the way we socialise nowadays is completely different to the days pre-social media. Now, we communicate primarily online, and there are fewer teenager-friendly spaces in our towns and cities. 

Secondly, having spoken to several adults about my situation at school, I’ve gathered evidence that school never seems to be the best days of anyone’s lives. There are so many things that make being a teenager kind of suck – school pressures, strict teachers, not to mention the fact that almost nothing you can do is independent. The best is yet to come! You have so many more adventures and exciting experiences ahead of you, this is only the start of what will be a long and exciting life.

And most importantly, no matter what, you will eventually find your tribe. Some people find their crowd at sixth form. For most, from what I’ve heard, it’s at university or even later in adult life. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You are still SO young, and have so much time to live your life the way you always dreamed. The point is, you will grow, you will learn, and you will find people you feel safe with. Friendships are really important and special, but most of the relationships you form will not be solely from the first 18 years of your life – it gets SO much better as you learn more about yourself and the environments you thrive most in. 

And just remember, you are NOT the only one who feels this way. You are not alone if you feel like you can’t make any friends. It feels like everyone else fits in, but there are other people, just like you, who haven’t found their place yet. Let’s face it, school isn’t a hospitable place for most people regardless of how big your entourage is. If you haven’t found it yet, it’s just a sign that the best is still to come. It’s normal to not have any real friends while you’re in school, and to make them at university instead, or even much later in life. It’s perfectly normal and okay to just go through your teenage years, and come out at the other end, not having had any life-fulfilling experiences yet, but having emerged unharmed.

Above all, once you exit this page, I hope something you take away from this article is that your experience is just as valid as anyone else’s. Your time will come, and I promise you won’t always have to feel as lonely as you might do right now. Trust me, I speak from experience – the best is waiting for you very soon. 

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about not fitting in at school, you can reach out to our Community here for confidential and free support and advice.

Wondering how to help a lonely friend who has isolated themselves? Sometimes, friends can get wrapped up on what’s going on with them and become a bit distant. It can be hard to know if you should even try to help them, let alone how to help them.

Plus, when the nights draw in and everyone decides to stay at home with hot chocolate and the dog, sometimes it’s even pretty hard to tell the friend that’s become isolated from the friends that are just pure chillin’.

Well, in order to tell if they are going through something, take a quick read of this. Feel like you want to help them? Read on.

1) They haven’t become distant to hurt you

When a pal becomes distant or isolated, it can be easy to think that the reason is simply that they no longer want to hang out with you. But, when someone is going through something, they can withdraw from the people around them.

It’s important to remember that they aren’t doing this to hurt you, and they aren’t doing this because they suddenly hate you. 

2) They might just have a lot going on right now 

Life is always about the ups and downs. Sometimes, when we go through a particularly rough patch, we kind of go back to what is familiar and comfortable for all of us, and spend more and more time alone. 

3) Try reaching out in a casual way first like over WhatsApp or Facetime

Talking about what’s going on with us is always a tough one. Try reaching out to them in a casual way first like through WhatsApp or Instagram, just to see if they want to talk. They might not want to, but the action of checking in with them is enough to make them feel like they are not alone for now. 

4) Don’t force them to do things 

So jumping straight on the accelerator might seem like a quick fix for getting them back into the swing of things, but it might not be the best idea. For one, they might have isolated themselves for loads of reasons, and one of them could be anxiety or another issue that makes being around lots of people difficult.

Check out our article on how to help a friend who has social anxiety for some tips and tricks here

5) Be understanding 

Like we mentioned above, jumping in the deep end might not be the best idea. But even asking them over to yours or out for a walk might end up with a resounding ‘no’.

The more someone rejects us like this, it’s super easy to take it personally, but the important thing to remember is that helping most people takes time and patience. Take a step back, take care of you, and then try again a little bit further down the line. 

6) Suggest having a chill meet up and chat about what’s going on 

Ease them into social stuff by asking them for a chill coffee and a chat about what’s been going on with them. Let them choose a space that they feel comfortable in, whether that’s your front room, in the park or in their favourite cafe place, and let them get to talking about it at their own pace. 

7) Read these ideas on how to start the awkward conversations

We know that starting a conversation with anyone about something intense can be difficult. We’ve got you covered though. Give this article a read about how to have a conversation about mental health with someone, because we know it can be really uncomfortable.

Need some confidential advice? Talk to one of our trained Digital Mentors here.

The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we all live and work and has affected mental health and wellbeing of the entire world. 

For me, I can’t put into words how much I struggled at first. It was horrible. I felt so alone, so isolated. I felt like I was drowning in my own thoughts and the stress, anxiety and change really got to me. I hadn’t felt like acting on intrusive thoughts for a long time but going into lockdown very nearly tipped me over the edge.

I’m diagnosed with mixed personality disorder, bipolar and autism (Aspergers & ADHD), and life during lockdown was hard. In particular, the one thing that I really suffered with was the change and uncertainty, something which really affects my autism. Before this, I had a great routine which I followed day in – day out, every week. When this changed, in a way that was completely beyond my control, it put me over the edge, and days and nights of crying and lack of sleep took hold. 

We all know that things have changed dramatically from how life used to be, and it just keeps on changing. Rules have been relaxed but some more restrictions have now been put into place. Now, you’re probably thinking that this put me back into a dark place again after what I have just explained, but that isn’t the case.

I’ve had to change my mindset to get through the last few months, but I got through the whole lockdown and adapted a different lifestyle and routine, as I have done moving forward as the rules kept changing. Being able to do that made me realise that although difficult and extremely challenging, I can do it. I can get through this. Yes, I want life to go back to the way it was before like many of us do. However, like so many of us, before this I was terrified of change and it was something I avoided, but being forced to make real and dramatic changes to my life has made me realise that I can do it and sometimes, change is even good.

Before the pandemic, I drowned myself in work. Working 6 and a half days a week and sleeping very little, mostly to distract myself from previous memories of trauma and intrusive thoughts. I took little time for myself and although it might seem pretty obvious, it was not healthy at all for my mental wellbeing. 

After a few months, I started to see the simplest of things that made me happy and realise how lucky I am to be alive and how beautiful life is. From the birds singing, the sun shining, the sound of the rain falling and the importance of family contact and friendships.

I started to take more time for myself. I found myself eating better, my hygiene improving and I was getting the most sleep I had had in years. By doing this, I was giving my body time to recoup and recover and my mood and intrusive thoughts improved dramatically. I know things are different for a lot of people and yes, some things are stressing me out still like the uncertainty. But uncertainty is actually something we live with on a daily basis. It’s actually a good thing and quite exciting.

I know you may be struggling at the moment and your situation may be a lot different, but focus on the here and now and try to not look too far forward. Take each day at a time and be hopeful. Focus on the important things like yourself, your family, your friends and tell yourself “it’s going to be ok”. 

After months of avoiding moving out of my own space and changing my routine, I have now moved out and got a house with my partner (she’s amazing and has supported me more than words could explain). This is something I would never have been able to do without realising that change is good and it’s something I can cope with.

Things aren’t all bad. They may be tough now but better days are coming. You have to look at the good things everyday.

Stay safe and stay strong. You’re not alone! So many are in similar situations. 

Don’t suffer in silence. It’s okay to cry, no matter who you are, and most importantly, it’s ok to not be ok.

Check out our dedicated Coronavirus Hub here for more information and support on managing your mental wellbeing during lockdown

Things might seem a bit bleak right now if you’re a student who’s been locked down in your university halls. The news has been dominated by stories of you guys being put into a lockdown that may or may not even be legal, and to be honest, we know it must really suck. 

Keeping up your spirits during this crazy time might feel like an impossible task, especially when all you want to do is to have the Fresher’s Week you were promised or just to go home to your family, but it is also incredibly important to try to remain positive. That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you can do that will help build you up, connect with your flatmates and try to put a smile on your face. 

Keep your space as clean as you can

It might be tempting to make a mess and throw your stuff everywhere when it’s the first time you’re living away from home, especially when you’re in a pretty difficult situation right now. But keeping your space tidy and organised is a great way to keep yourself from feeling low. If your environment reflects something negative, it’s easy for that to manifest in your brain. 

Get your family to send you care packages if they can

If you are having trouble adjusting, or feel like you don’t have the money to spend on things you usually enjoy at home, ask your family to send you a few things to make it easier. It’s a tough time right now, and having a connection to home will for sure make you feel better. 

Order a food shop online, and get some treats in there too

If you can get a delivery slot, get a food shop in and make sure you are putting a few pick-me-ups in there as well. Whether it’s something delicious for dinner, a few sweet treats to keep in your room or anything else, take care of yourself right now. 

Get familiar with your course materials for when things start up again

It might feel like there isn’t much point in working on course materials when you aren’t getting a lot of communication from uni when you might even be able to begin. But using an hour or two a day to figure out where your classes are on google maps, ordering reading materials and getting stuck into the first few chapters, or anything else, is a great way to see light at the end of the tunnel. 

Have a game night with your flatmates… 

You know when your parents would always make you play endless rounds of monopoly when it rained on a family holiday? Well now might be the time to break the board out again. Get a game night set up with everyone you’re isolating with. You could even turn it into a way to get to know everyone better – you’ll be best buds by the end of the two weeks. 

…Or even a room crawl in your flat 

If your flatmates are all up for it, why not turn every room into a different theme. You don’t have to drink, you could just have games and music and food that goes with each theme. We’re thinking 90’s, we’re thinking punk, we’re thinking top 40 – whatever you want. Why not take it even further and order a few costumes from the internet and each room resident has to dress along their theme. We guarantee it will make for a memorable flat snap at the end of the evening. 

Lockdown got you down? Maybe the pandemic is putting strain on your relationship? Check out our coronavirus support hub for advice and support on issues the outbreak might have caused you

Stay connected with friends and family 

Being away from home for the first time can be difficult enough as it is, even when you aren’t quarantined with people you didn’t know literally two weeks ago. Make sure you stay in contact with your family, who will want to know you’re safe. Book in some zoom quizzes or movie nights with your friends from home and lean on them if you need to. Things won’t seem so bad, knowing there are a lot of people in the world who care about you. 

Try and find a little space to do some exercise at home

Exercise will make you feel happy. That’s it. The best natural serotonin booster is to get your blood pumping so if you have room, clear a little space to set up some yoga or at-home circuit training. During the national lockdown, YouTube was flooded with literally thousands of videos, and most gyms now offer virtual memberships for online-only classes. It will make you feel more awake, give you something to focus on every day and add a little routine to your life that might be a little rootless at the moment. 

Talk to someone you trust if you feel like you need to 

Whether that’s a family member, friend, new flatmate or the university pastoral team, talking to someone about how you’re feeling is the healthiest thing to do. Asking for help when you’re having a difficult time is not a sign of weakness, and you will feel better knowing there is someone else out there who can either help you or at least just listen to what you have to say. 

Remember this won’t last forever… 

It might feel like this is going to go on forever, but it won’t. You will be able to go to class. You will be able to leave the lfat. You will be able to explore your new town or city. You will be able to go home and see your family and friends. This is not forever. 

…And we are here if you need us

If you feel like you need to talk to someone, reach out to our community here for a space to connect with others on the issue and receive anonymous support and advice from one of our trained Digital Mentors. 

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:

Small amounts of stress are healthy and can help you get stuff done. But high levels of stress can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health so it’s important that you find ways to manage this.

People find different things relaxing so we’ve constructed a list of our fave chilling out tips and urge you to give them a try to see which ones work for you!

It took us a bloody long time but we did it, we really did it. Here are 101 different things you can do to chill out and reduce stress.

TAKE NOTES …

1. Watch something funny. Laughter really is the best medicine. It relieves physical tension, reduces stress and increases immunity…so watch your fave comedy and laugh your way to tranquility.

2. Body Clench. This relaxation exercise may make you look a bit constipated but give it a go! Starting with your toes, go up through your body, gradually clenching each of your muscles right through to the tiny ones in your face, keep your whole body clenched, hold and then release to let go of all the tension. Feels good, right?

3. Try the Naam Yoga Hand Trick. Using your fingertips, apply pressure to the space between the knuckles of your index and middle fingers. This creates a sense of immediate relaxation by activating a nerve that loosens the area around your heart (don’t worry, it’s not as life-threatening as it sounds).

4. Stop multitasking. No wonder we’re all mega-stressed when we’re replying to text messages, whilst watching TV and speaking on the phone simultaneously! Not only is multitasking totally inefficient, but it’s also linked to the increased production of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that can send your body into panic mode! So chill out and take things one step at a time.

5. Get a Colouring Book. They’ve exploded in popularity over recent months and for good reason – colouring in helps you chill out because it’s very difficult to focus on other things when you’re doing it.

6. Have a banana. When we’re stressed out our blood pressure tends to rise but the potassium found in bananas can help to regulate this. Stress can also leave us feeling depleted but bananas give you a replenishing energy boost that will get you swinging from the trees again!

7. Organize ‘worry time’. Worry (worryingly)can counter productively occur at any point in the day and release stress hormones into the body that can cause anxiety and lower our immune systems. So schedule a 15 minute worry window in your day, where you can write down your worries and work through them. You can use Ditch the Label’s stress reprogrammer to help.

8. Do some baking. The smell of baking can make people feel calm and comforted. Many people find baking stress relieving and adding decorative touches to your creation can give you a sense of pride, enhance how you’re feeling and therefore boost your self-esteem…so what better excuse to eat cake?

9. Cook up a face-mask. Yep, that’s right, we are suggesting you mix up half an avocado, a teaspoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of hot water and smear it all over your face so that you vaguely resemble the Wicked Witch of the West. Relax for 10 to look and feel rejuvenated.

10. Stay silly. Don’t leave playtime at the primary school gates. Studies have consistently highlighted the importance of play for helping manage stress throughout our lives. Goofing around is good for us so bring out the lego, pull ugly faces and dance in the rain shamelessly!

11. Keep calm and kiss. Kissing increases levels of the love hormone, which relaxes us whilst decreasing the stress hormone. It’s been shown that kissing can lower anxiety in a similar way to meditation as well as generally improving your mood through an increase of serotonin and endorphins in the brain…so love really does conquer all!

12. Stay inside and listen to the rain. Want a good excuse to stay in your PJ’s? White noise may make you wanna tear your hair out when it’s blaring out the TV, but this sound of nature shares similar wavelengths to the frequencies produced by white noise and actually has relaxing effects on the brain. So curl up with a hot choc and let your brainwaves do the work.

13. Watch a nature documentary. Not only are David Attenborough’s dulcet tones particularly soothing, nature documentaries can also sprinkle our minds with mood-lifting wanderlust and highlight the sheer scale of life which can in turn help us gain perspective of our own lives.

14. Meditate. Create a little zen den in your room where you can meditate (e.g. light candles and incense, play calming music). Reaching a meditative state takes practice but there are some great tips for beginners online. Meditation can help ease anxiety and improve concentration, so peace out.

15. Breathe ‘Pranayama’ style. This yoga method requires you to breathe through one nostril at a time (inhale through the left by blocking the right, exhale through the right by blocking the left, repeat for 3 minutes) to relieve stress. Weird but wonderful!

16. A spoonful of honey. Mother nature’s delicious treat has compounds that reduce inflammation in the brain which can help improve a low mood. Bee happy… (sorry, couldn’t resist).

17. Turn up the music and dance. Combining music and dance can help build self-esteem, lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Dancing may also help express emotions and experiences that are difficult to communicate in words alone…so go dance like no one’s watching!

18. Watch a tearjerker. So you’re only on the first scene of ‘Up’ and you’re already in floods…don’t panic! The teary-eyed may experience a slight dip in their mood following the film but not long after you’ll notice your mood improve considerably from its original state and crying is an excellent way to relieve stress too so get the tissues out!

19. Try self-hypnosis. Forget dangling pendants and special powers, self-hypnosis can really work! There’s loads of mp3’s you can download online to help reprogram your subconscious to relieve stress and anxiety so have a listen.

20. Doodle. You may associate doodling with being bored in class but doing it in your spare time can be a great way to relax. When we’re stressed we can get caught in our thoughts but by doodling you’re engaging the creative upper right side of your brain which will give you the space you need to calm down and find a fresh perspective.

21. Play games. Board games, cards and even online/video games (in moderation!) can be a really effective way of relaxing. Fun games can trigger the release of endorphins and can help shift your attention away from stress. Interacting with friends and families through games can help ease stressful dynamics too. Looks like I’ll be playing Call of Duty forever then…

22. Have a hug. Hugging increases serotonin levels which are linked to happiness and releases oxytocin which lowers stress hormones like cortisol. How lovely.

23. Have a massage exchange. Most of us don’t have 50 quid lying around to splash out on a professional massage, so relieve tension the frugal way and exchange massages with a friend. For example, try massaging the muscle under the thumb to relieve tension in the hands (you’ll look just like a pro!) There are loads of tips online so you, your mate and your bank balance can enjoy the benefits of relaxation!

24. Drink hot water. Learn from the tradition of Chinese healing and drink a cup of good ol’, clean hot water. Ok, so it may not be as delicious as a hot chocolate but it will cleanse your system of toxins that have accumulated in the body and may be causing tension. You could try adding some lemon for flavour, vitamin C and its mood enhancing properties (e.g. reducing anxiety).

25. Support someone else. Moving your attention outside yourself can help take the pressure of stressors in your own life and supporting others can also give you valuable insight for how to redress your issues. Seeing the impact you make in that person’s life will also boost your self-esteem which in turn, can help de-stress.

26. Visit a free museum or gallery. Cultural centers provide a safe haven of positive distraction, reduce tension and inspire our creativity too. Often, you can get free entry or reduced rates so check out what’s available in your area.

27. Watch cute animals on YouTube. Oh, the power of cute! Watching our furry friends doing their thing can help reduce your stress levels and lift your mood. Aww!

28. Go Stargazing. Laying down and watching a starry night is not only awesome but it increases your brain’s alpha waves which rapidly enables you to relax. Cool, huh?

29. Light some incense. Scents like Sandalwood and Sage can help calm anxieties and aid relaxation (and make your room smell wonderful!)

30. Squeeze a stress ball. Using a stress ball can help alleviate tension by promoting muscle relaxation and providing a general sense of release.

31. Keeping a diary. Venting all those thoughts and emotions onto paper can make your feelings and problems seem less intimidating. Writing can be both insightful and therapeutic so get those words down on paper!

32. Chew gum. Chewing gum for a few minutes can help release anxiety, improve your mood and you’ll never have to worry about bad breath again!

33. Drink green tea. Feeling all worked up? Green tea is a source of the chemicals which can help relieve anger.

34. Call an old friend. Feeling out of control? Speaking to an old friend can be really grounding. Social connected-ness can reduce stress levels and no doubt the nostalgia will get you smiling and laughing too!

35. Snuggle up with a pet. Cuddling your pet can help reduce anxiety through the release of oxytocin in your brain, ease feelings of social rejection and make you feel cared for which can help boost your self esteem. The cutest therapy going!

36. Sniff those flowers. Did you know that certain smells can change our mood? Floral scents can lift your mental state and make you feel less anxious…so go stick your nose in your neighbours rhododendron bush!

37. Stretch it out. Stretching has been linked to relaxation and stress relief as well as a greater sense of wellbeing. It’s also incredibly satisfying.

38. Organise your space. Mess can really start to clutter up your mind so clean your room and reorganize your desk. Tidy room, tidy mind (sorry, we said it).

39. Take a walk in nature. Not only will walking trigger the release of endorphins which can reduce stress hormones, but being out in nature can boost serotonin levels which can also contribute to an improved sense of well-being.

40. Wash dishes. Ok, so I get that you’ve probably spent half your life avoiding this task but you’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it is. Not only will mindfully washing the dishes relax you, but you’ll please your other household members too and feel a sense of self-esteem boosting accomplishment. Concentrate on letting your mind and body experience the task with serene awareness (e.g. focusing on the smell of the soap, the feel of the dishes and the warmth of the water).

41. Visualization. Your mind is a powerful tool. Whether you use it to visualize success, visit a happy place, or embark on an imaginary journey, the technique can help alleviate anxiety and sadness so go get creative in your head!

42. Sleep well. Whilst stress can interfere with sleeping, sleeping can also relieve stress. So use some of our chilling out tips to help you relax before bed and follow our Ditch the Label Sleep Guide so you can ensure that you’re spending a third of your life in bedtime bliss…zzz…

43. Cook your fave dish. Nourishing yourself with a good meal can help boost your sense of self-worth. Cooking can be a relaxing and rewarding process and hopefully you’ll feel accomplished instead of poisoned by the end!

44. Write a card for someone you care about. Whoever it is I can assure you that they’ll appreciate a card letting them know you’re thinking of them. Random acts of kindness like this have beneficial effects for both you and the person at the receiving end. You can feel good about making someone else feel great and performing these acts has been linked to helping socially anxious people feel more positive.

45. Light some candles. Candlelight is known for its calming effects and (even better) scented candles have aroma-therapeutic properties which can improve well-being. Watching the flame of a candle can also be a great starting point for meditation. So sit back and enjoy the glow!

46. Take a nap. Don’t feel guilty, naps aren’t just for those over the age of 65! The afternoon power nap can effectively reduce stress, improve your mood and increase alertness, so we give you full permission to climb back into bed!

47. Countdown from ten. Caught in chaos? Take a couple of minutes out of your day to mindfully countdown from ten and back up again. Continue this process until you feel calm enough to resume your day.

48. Wake up and smell the coffee. Finally, a saying that makes literal sense! Smelling coffee actually reduces stress hormones, so we suggest you have a good whiff of a decaf variety over breakfast.

49. Enjoy being in a water. Paddle down to your local swimming pool and let the water do its magic. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that can help improve our mental health and swimming is a peaceful way of achieving this. Moving in water has relaxing effects on the body as it allows oxygen to flow to your muscles which consequently regulates your breathing.

50. Give your temples a good ol’ massage. Learn from the great art of acupuncture and give those temples a gentle knead with your index and middle fingertips. Massaging your temples helps relax the other muscles in your body as well as soothing your headache symptoms (bonus!).

51. Feed the birds. Enjoy the company birds can bring and track all the different species you can view from your doorstep. Ok, so I know it’s not exactly a night out with your mates but give it a try!…being around nature has a range of positive effects on our mental health (such as reducing anxiety) and you’ll be able to see the happiness you’ve bought to these cute little creatures.

52. Have a sleepover. Whilst some social situations can be stressful, a sleepover with your best mate can be a great way to chill out. Spending time with someone you trust in a relaxed environment can do wonders for your well-being and we’re sure you’ll be laughing all night long too!

53. Hum the tune of your fave song. Feeling anxious? Humming can dramatically slow down your heart rate and ground you. It also has a relaxing effect on your face, neck and shoulder muscles. Humming your fave tune will lift your mood and ensure you don’t get some other irritating song stuck in your head!

54. Open the windows. Not only does fresh air promote well-being and relax you, but getting more oxygen to the brain improves concentration and gives you the energy boost you need without the same sugar comedown of a chocolate bar (damn).

55. Play team sports. Whilst any exercise works wonders, team sports may be better for your mental health than exercising alone as they promote a sense of connection and can reduce social anxiety. Quidditch anyone?

56. Be nice to yourself. Criticising yourself again? Take some time to practice self-love, whether that means starting the day repeating positive affirmations about yourself or nourishing your body with the nutrition you need. Remember ditching negative self-talk really will relieve a lot of stress. Check out some of our tips on building your self esteem.

57. Have a bath. Taking a dip in a hot bath will relax your muscles, enabling you to unwind both physically and mentally which can help prepare you for a good night sleep too. A good soak can also be a great way to reduce daily anxiety…unleash the rubber ducks!

58. Get up earlier. Sorry guys. Whilst I wish early starts weren’t the reality, setting your alarm clock even just 15 minutes earlier could reduce your stress levels by eliminating that morning rush. Waking up earlier also provides you with some valuable time to relax with yourself and prepare for the day ahead…so wake up sleepy heads! (Yawn).

59. Avoid negativity. Don’t let other people’s negativity shoot your adrenaline levels through the roof. It’s important not to judge someone for being negative, try to support them but make sure you separate your identity and emotions from it. If their negativity is aimed at you, it looks like their engaging in bullying behaviour so read our advice on how to talk to someone who’s bullying you.

60. Have a picnic. Outdoor activities like this promote our mental and physical well-being. Going on a picnic with your friends or family can help reduce the stress we associate with school, work and home whilst providing a bonding experience that can alleviate feelings of social isolation. Jam sandwich anyone?

61. Buy a plant. Not only does filling your room with flowers look pretty and purify the air, but being around plants can help people feel more relaxed and actually reduce your likelihood of developing stress related depression.

62. Get knitting. Get creative using your motor skills to make repetitive motions that relieve stress. Give your brain a much needed break and if your thoughts get distracted, return to the movement. Start designing your own knitwear and you’ll never have to worry about being caught in the same outfit as someone else (bonus)!

63. Relax your jaw. Release the tension you’re carrying in your jaw by opening it wide for a half a minute, breathing through your nose and gently closing it. Great practice for the dentist too 😀

64. Reflect on the day’s achievements. Don’t get stressed about what you should be doing, feel great about what you have done instead. We’re not expecting you to have climbed Mount Everest, you could have just given a friend some good advice. The reflection process can help boost your self esteem and ease anxiety as you’ll see how great you are already!

65. Munch some crunch. It’s important not to use food as a stress reducer as this can lead to unhealthy eating habits. But when you do reach for a snack, try some carrot sticks or a handful of almonds as this will help relieve stress by working your jaw muscles as well as giving you a nutritious boost. Gnaw away!

66. Deep breaths. When we’re feeling anxious our breathing changes and this ‘overbreathing’ can actually produce more anxiety. But deep breathing will encourage your mind and body to slow down and return to normal. So next time you feel yourself getting anxious, have a quick break and take a deep diaphragmatic breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 2 and exhale slowly through the mouth for 4 (wait a few seconds and then repeat). Panic over!

67. Decompress your stress. Invest in a 3-pack of flannels, soak them in warm water and place one on each of your shoulders and your neck, then close your eyes and relax those muscles. Ta da!

68. Turn off ALL electronic devices. Technology can be wonderful but interconnectedness comes at a price…laptops, phones and tablets all subtly increase our stress levels making us feel constantly ‘wired’. They can also disrupt your sleep which will only contribute to stress so make sure you switch them off an hour or two before bed. Oh the conflicting joys of the 21st century!

69. Browse books. Go to your local library and spend some time browsing their book selection in the peace and quiet. Sit back, relax and get lost in the good book you’ve found. New research suggests that reading even for just six minutes can reduce your stress levels by two thirds!

70. Clear your closet. Having a closet full of clothes you never wear just creates clutter and adds to the stress bucket. So make a day of it, auction off your unwanted clothes and donate the proceeds to Ditch the Label! Thanks.

71. Study a new topic. I know it sounds counterproductive considering the stress studying causes, but study a topic you don’t do at school, like gender across cultures, or survival skills…we would all feel more relaxed if we knew how to survive on a desert island.

72. Mix up your route. Commuting through traffic jams could be sending your stress levels haywire unnecessarily. Try riding your bike to school or college instead for a calm and collected arrival. Or if you walk everywhere, try taking different routes to ensure your usual zombie walk stays within Shaun of the Dead.

73. Take a break from social media. Whilst interconnectedness and the opportunities of social media offer us so much, using it too often can have adverse effects. It can lower your self esteem, take you away from the moment and bring drama into your life. All of these factors massively contribute to stress so take a break!

74. Have a good cry. Bottling up your emotions can lead you down a dangerous path and suppressing those tears actually increases your stress levels so make sure you let it all out and you’ll be surprised by the relief it brings. Get the violins out!

75. Write a gratitude list. Unsurprisingly, stressful events can leave us feeling negative and as if we’re lacking in some way. But having a greater sense of appreciation for the people and things in your life can really help you gain perspective, feel more positive and enable you to better handle stress. So try writing down 5 things you’re thankful for.

76. Try herbal remedies. Mother nature scores again! Next time you’re feeling stressed try sipping on some chamomile tea, full of anti-anxiety components, or drip some lavender oil on your pillow at night to help relax you for a peaceful night’s sleep.

78. Don’t procrastinate. We’ve all been there…one minute you’re revising, the next minute you’re checking out the photos of your friends’ mutual friends’ friend on facebook (wow, that even sounds as stressful as it is), but all procrastination does is put things off and stops you achieving your goals which only generates more stress!

79. Lower your standards. Setting ridiculously high standards for yourself generates anxiety by putting pressure on you to perform and it can make you particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of emotional stress. Nobody’s perfect so try loving and accepting yourself as the great individual you are.

80. Get a hobby. Pursuing a new hobby is a fun way to break away from life’s demands, as well as allowing you to build your self esteem, forge new friendships and express yourself, which all contribute to the reduction of stress. Why not give photography a go or try out a free yoga class in your area…do whatever interests YOU!

81. Watch the sunrise (or set). Ok, so perhaps getting up at the crack of dawn to watch a sunrise is a little bit ambitious, but watching a sunset on a clear summer’s evening is both breathtaking and incredibly relaxing. So let go of your worries and let yourself get immersed in the colors. It’s true that the best things in life are free.

82. Ask for help. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Trying to cope with everything on your own just exacerbates stress. Whether you open up to a trusted friend, family member or us here at Ditch, a problem shared is a problem halved!

83. Eat stress free. Incorporate stress-busting foods into your diet like avocados, oily fish, whole wheat varieties and oatmeal. Please Sir, can I have some more?

84. Enjoy simplicity. Living life in the fast lane? Rushing around is not only stressful, we forget about the simple things that bring us happiness too so learn to stop and notice life’s little pleasures like laughing with your friends or enjoying the feeling of sun on your skin. Mindfulness can significantly reduce anxiety so relax and enjoy the moment!

85. Strike a (yoga) pose. There’s loads of yoga poses you can try at home that can help reduce anxiety. Have a go at the child’s pose by sitting on your knees and bending forwards so that your face is resting on the floor, keeping your arms by your sides. This comforting pose, helps us turn inside for a while and slow down our racing minds.

86. Stop judging. With so many things to worry about, don’t let worrying about what other people do with their time be one of them. Sitting around gossiping about others and criticising them isn’t gonna make anyone happy. Try supporting them instead. If you often find yourself judging others it’s likely that you’ve been giving yourself a hard time too so ditch the criticism and you’ll not only feel better about yourself but you’ll have a lot more time to relax too!

87. Spend a day at the beach. Beautiful views, the soothing sounds of water and a Mr.Whippy in the rain…what’s not to like? Whether you go in a group or roll solo, the beach is a relaxing break away from everyday stresses and the negative ions you soak up will have positive effects on your body and mind back in reality too.

88. Nurture yourself through words. Read whatever inspires you; poems, positive affirmations and empowering quotes….let the words ground you, calm your mind and regenerate you.

89. Avoid Caffeine. That comforting cup of coffee may not be so kind to your nerves. Whilst giving you a temporary boost, caffeine injects adrenaline into your system and increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A cup of coffee can brew trouble for anxiety sufferers so try an equally heart-warming decaf alternative instead.

90. Learn to forgive. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s how we learn. Bullying yourself, mulling over petty grievances and begrudging others is only gonna hurt you so start forgiving yourself and other people and you’ll find there’s a lot less to stress about!

91. Say no sometimes. Being a ‘yes’ person isn’t easy. People pleasers listen up!…saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude. Practicing saying ‘no’ will help simplify your life and give you the valuable time you need to relax with yourself.

92. Get some sun. Vitamin D (which our bodies absorb through exposure to the sun) can play an important role in your mental health but by the time it gets to those long winter months many of us are lacking in it. Keep calm and soak up all the sun you can and if you’re running low, top up with vitamin D rich foods like oily fish and eggs.

93. Listen to calming music. Oh, the power of music! Research suggests that chilled out tunes slow down our pulses, lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones. So plug in and relax or if no one’s listening sing/shout along to release even more tension!

94. Stand tall. Did you know good posture can actually make you feel more in control and less anxious? Power poses of confidence can actually decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so stand proud and your mood will follow.

95. Drink more water. Even slight dehydration can lower our moods and it can increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Dehydration can also cause your body to stop functioning properly which can result in anxiety too…so get sipping!

96. Do a puzzle. Feeling all keyed up? Try and crack a sudoku, a crossword or piece together a puzzle to unwind and get your mind into a state of relaxation.

97. Take your brain on holiday. As much as we’d all love to be sunbathing in the Caribbean right now, most of us our constrained to mind wandering instead. But daydreaming can help you solve stressful problems, relax you and inspire creativity. So get lost in your thoughts and see where your mind takes you!

98. Spend less. Advertisers capitalise on the notion that buyers ruthlessly spend in response to stress and low self-esteem. Remember that having lots of things just adds to stress and won’t solve negative feelings so next time you’re about to part with your cash take a step back and ask “why do I want this?” and “do I really need this?”

99. Do your nails. There are loads of tips online for giving yourself the ultimate DIY mani and pedi. Spend some time looking after number one, feel relaxed and get creative with nail art too!

100. Listen to an audiobook. Being read a story is ridiculously relaxing and a comforting way to wind down before bed. It’s much less effort than reading and there’s a huge choice of podcasts online so do check those out.

101. Make your room your safe haven. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary for peaceful relaxation so make it that way! Get some candles, declutter your space and why not make a personalised noticeboard of quotes that inspire you, pictures, photographs…

Remember. You may be in a particularly stressful period at the moment and feel overpowered but remember it WILL PASS.

It’s likely that the negative feelings you’re experiencing are to do with your body responding naturally to stress. So stay calm, and relieve your stress using these tips.

But, if those feelings become overwhelming and make you feel out of control, do see your GP, speak to a trusted adult or talk to Ditch the Label. There’s great support available for you and remember that nobody deserves to suffer in silence.

Mental health… we all have it.

Did you know that as a result of bullying, 44% had felt depressed and 41% felt socially anxious? The relationship between bullying and mental health is clear, but societally we tend to talk more about looking after our physical health as opposed to looking after our mental health, too.

In this piece, we are going to look at some really simple things that you can do to maintain positive mental health. In doing these things regular and often, you’ll be able to reduce stress levels and the chances of developing a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety.

Before we start though, if you suspect you are suffering from a mental health ailment and haven’t already spoken about it, we recommend you talk to your doctor, a family member or somebody from a charity like Mind.

Firstly, it’s important to know that we all have mental health, just in the same way as physical health. We’re taught from an early age by the movies we watch and media to consume to be afraid of mental health, but it really isn’t anything to ever be afraid of.

Think about how often you see an advert for products that are designed to boost your physical health – yoghurt, juices, gym membership, the list is endless. Now compare that to things that are promoted to boost your mental health. There’s no comparison.

We want to show you some really simple, and mostly free things that you can do to enhance your mental health.

1) Combat Stress

Stress is an evolutionary thing – we’re programmed to get stressed for a short period of time to help get ourselves out of a dangerous situation. Back in the olden days, stress was used to encourage a fight or flight response from people if they were being chased by a predator. Now, in the present day – stress is all around us, but it isn’t good or healthy to feel stressed over long periods of time so it is super important to develop your own ways of coping with stress. We’ve developed a really simple to use tool, called Stress Reprogramming, to help you combat stress. Click here to use it.

2) Watch What You Eat

It really is true. You are what you eat. If you’re eating microwave meals all the time, you’re going to feel pretty pants about yourself. Where possible, up your intake of fresh fruit, veg and grains and reduce the amount of unhealthy processed foods in your diet and refined sugars. Switch the fizzy drinks for water and herbal teas and limit yourself to occasional treats. Not only does this improve your physical health, but it will improve your mental health too. Our food affects the ways in which we feel about ourselves, so fill your body with good quality ingredients.

3) Learn to Be Alone

How many times a day do you check, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram? How many texts a day do you think you send? It’s pretty much constant, right? Sometimes it’s good to just be alone and to get rid of all that stimuli. Sometimes you need to be alone. Not to be lonely, but to enjoy your free time being yourself.

4) Exercise More

When you work out, it releases endorphins. By working out, we don’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym. It could be a jog around the block or a walk through the woods. Anything that gets your body moving. If you’re a stranger to exercise, start small and work your way up. Some people prefer to be alone, others prefer to work out with a buddy. Find what works for you and stick to it.

abby-lee-miller-dance-moms-yes-face

5) Meditate

Right now, your brain is processing thousands of different stimuli every second, without you even being conscious of most of it. Our brains aren’t really built for the 21st century. Sure, they can help us escape a predator in the middle of a jungle, but they can get overwhelmed sometimes with the number of stimuli being processed. Meditation is all about silencing your inner voice, enabling you to tap into your subconscious. It is estimated that people first started to meditate in the 3rd century. We recommend meditating several times a week. If you’re a beginner, there are loads of guided meditations to try on YouTube. Give it a try and approach it with an open mind. Hate to also break it to you, but your body won’t physically float and you don’t have to sit cross-legged making humming sounds.

6) Find Something You Love

Different things work for different people. Find the things that you love by trying new experiences and creating positive habits. When you’re doing something you enjoy, your mental health benefits and your stress levels decrease. We find the most happiness when we are in the ‘flow’ of doing something we are passionate about. Your something could be anything from playing the guitar, baking or going to a theme park. It’s good to have exciting things to look forward to, especially if you’re going through a stressful time such as exam season or a breakup.

7) Talk About It

Finally, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of talking. When you’re going through a tough time, the issues often appear bigger inside your head than they actually are. It can be so helpful to speak to someone about the stuff that is stressing you out or making you unhappy. It simplifies it and also gives people an opportunity to advise you on something.

There you have it, 7 really simple and straight-forward ways to maintain positive mental health.

*If you are having suicidal thoughts/considering suicide please seek help immediately: There are a number of helplines that you can contact 24-7/365.

  • In the UK, call the Samaritans on 116 123. 
  • In the USA, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Anger can be a useful emotion because it tells us when something is unfair or unjust.

We’re often told to hide our anger or to squash it down, but no emotion is a bad one, and we can’t turn them off.

Instead, we should see anger as motivation to try and address the unfairness we’re experiencing – but we need to do it in a productive way. So how do we deal with anger?

Although we all experience anger differently, it tends to follow the same general path. We start off calm, but then something triggers a feeling of anger in us and we become bothered. If we aren’t able to deal with that, it can escalate to anger and eventually can result in a pretty dramatic eruption.

So, to avoid an eruption, here’s how you can reprogramme your anger into something positive.

angry teenager, sitting on a dock, how to deal with anger

Reprogramming Your Anger

1. Recognise your trigger and how you’re feeling

Ask yourself questions

  • Am I angry or is it a different feeling?
  • What has caused it?

Then check your body for

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweaty palms
  • Hot face
  • Clenched jaw

Check your mind for

  • Irritation
  • Erratic thoughts
  • Clouded thinking

Then check your behaviour

  • Are you acting as you would if you were calm?

2. Pause the escalation for a moment so you can reassess

  • Control your breathing 
  • Count to ten
  • Go for a walk
  • Put it in perspective: “will this matter tomorrow? next week? next year?”
angry cat, ditch the label

Want to find out more about why we get angry? Read this.

3. Change course by reacting to the problem in a different way

Slow it down

Give yourself and the other person time to explain your views. Pause the conversation if you need to.

Write it as a letter

Write a letter or email explaining how you feel

Focus on ‘I’

Change it from ‘you’ focused to ‘I’ focused. Instead of ‘You don’t care about me’, say ‘I miss spending time with you’

Let it go

Accept that sometimes things won’t change

4. Channel your excess energy into something that benefits you

  • Exercise
  • Write a journal
  • Get creative
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Draw
  • Take it out on a cushion
  • Write a letter to your MP
  • Organise an assembly at school
  • Campaign for change
  • Run a fundraiser

For help and support, talk to our online community here.