It’s Children’s Mental Health Week this week, and this year’s theme is ‘Find Your Brave’. As a young person, building resilience is a huge aspect of bravery. The two go hand in hand; it takes resilience to be brave, and bravery to stay resilient. Resilience isn’t just something you’re born with. It’s a learned skill that comes with continued practice when exposed to challenges, big or small.
Being a young person today can be a challenge in itself. Studies show that 1 in 8 children in the UK have a diagnosable mental health issue. While it can’t solve everything, working on your resilience can have a huge impact on your ability to deal with life’s challenges as they come up and find more productive and positive ways of responding to them. Here are a few steps you can take in your day to day life that will help build resilience:
Ask for help
Resilience and self-reliance aren’t the same thing. If you’re going through a hard time, it can can be too easy, at least initially, to bottle things up and try and get on with things. In this way, it can be an act of bravery to express how you feel to a parent, friend or trusted adult. But feeling supported through your family and friends is a huge factor when it comes to resilience.
It’s important to reframe your understanding of resilience and inner strength. Acknowledging when you need help and asking for it not only helps you build resilience, but strengthens your relationships with family, friends and loved ones. If you’re stuck in a rut, another person’s perspective can go a long way!
Create healthy habits
You’ll have heard this time and time again, but exercise is really good for you! And not just for your physical health; physical activity literally strengthens your brain. Keeping active helps your brain and body manage stress and anxiety better by regulating your hormones and producing ‘feel good’ endorphins. You don’t need to be sporty either to reap the benefits. Walking your dog, riding your bike or jumping on a trampoline are all great ways to exercise – anything that gets your body moving!
It’s also hugely important to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause your hormones to become imbalanced. This makes it hard to think and function properly, thus making it more difficult to deal with challenges. Improve your sleep by sticking to a routine, and minimising screen time in the hour before bed. Things like meditation and yoga can also really help you wind down for a better snooze.
Embrace your mistakes
Making mistakes or experiencing setbacks are never fun – but it’s how you respond to them that makes all the difference. Of course, it’s natural to feel down when something goes ‘wrong’. Accepting how you feel is an important part of resilience (more on that below!). But while you can accept your negative feelings as valid, the key is not allowing them to take over.
Resilience comes in to play when you can take a step back and recognise the mistake as a learning experience. There is potential for growth and development behind every mistake or perceived ‘failure’. Ever heard that baseball quote “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”? Well, that’s exactly it! It’s easier said than done, of course, but serves as an important reminder that mistakes help you grow and it’s ok to make them.
When it comes to resilience, there’s nothing more important than self-acceptance. Being kind to yourself in the face of a challenge is the crucial first step needed in order to overcome it. As young people, we are often pretty hard on ourselves. We might compare ourselves to our peers and wonder why we feel the way we do when they seem to be totally fine. It’s important to remember, though, that everyone has their own challenges to deal with (even if it doesn’t appear that way!).
Being resilient is accepting your feelings, rather than running away from them. Allowing yourself to fully feel and understand your emotions not only stops them from spiralling out of control, but will give you a better insight in to how you might be able to make things better. Journalling is really helpful for this. Writing things down helps you make sense of how you’re feeling in the moment. It can make things feel less overwhelming when expressed in a way your brain can digest and understand.
If you are going through a difficult time, know that you’re never alone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a parent, loved one, friend or teacher, the following websites provide 24/7 online/text support for young people in crisis:
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