The 14-25 year olds, all of whom have been affected by meningitis, said that some of the things causing them anxiety were the future, returning to school/college, and their mental health.
“Anxiety has impacted me in many ways since March and one of them was the stopping of seeing the people who give me a sense of happiness. I overcame this by daily/weekly video chats and games over the phone/laptop. I’ve used headspace a lot, and done more of what I love: singing! I bought an Xbox One to fill up my free time and I love it! I’ve done a lot of walking too, I try to get 5 miles in a day. My counselling sessions were over FaceTime for most of the lockdown period however they still helped just as well.”
Anxiety is something we hear about a lot - whether that’s when we’re preparing for exams, spending time with new people or recovering from something life-changing like meningitis. It’s talked about a lot at the moment. Here are some simple ideas to help 14-25 year olds tackle anxiety.
1. Self care. Self care means different things for different people. Whether your self care involves a cup of tea and a book, sleep, gaming, or doing a good deed for someone, make room for it in your day. What do you do that makes you feel cared for, happier and like you can face things again?
2. Mindfulness and meditation. Take time to focus on you - how your body is doing and stopping your brain from overthinking. It’s something you can do anywhere and can help you feel peace even in the busiest times. You could use an app like Headspace or Calm. Or you could combine mindfulness with exercise and walk around your neighbourhood or town. What smells and sounds are there? Look up, is there something you’ve never noticed on the buildings before? Do the items in people’s gardens remind you of anything?
3. Talk to someone. This could be a friend, someone in your family, a colleague, someone from Meningitis Now, a trained peer mentor or a counsellor. Sometimes things burrow in your head and it takes having a chat with someone to help you see it differently or to get ideas on how to deal with it.
4. Exercise. It could be a walk with your headphones on, or a regular swim before school. Maybe you want to try something new like horse riding or yoga. You could do a dance work out from YouTube. There are lots of exercises out there and you can discover yours.
5. Put your phone DOWN. Sometimes watching the news, reading your friend’s virus theories or hearing lots of negatives gets too much. Take a digital break.
6. Get creative. There are many ways to be creative - paint, write, take photos, make music, use all the crafts to make a vision board, complete an adult colouring book.
7. Journaling. Write down your thoughts and feelings. How you do that is up to you - you might want to add stickers or use different pens or focus on different types of pages. Try tracking your mood daily, describing your life or writing down everything in your head. There are lots of ideas to get you started on the B&A pages and on YouTube.
8. Listen to good people chat. One of my favourites on Instagram is Dr Radha, the doctor on Radio 1’s Life Hacks. She has some great advice around mental health.
9. Refocus your thinking. Use some techniques that may not help anxiety directly but instead help you refocus your thinking.
- One person from B&A told me, "If you are down and unable to shift your mood, do the first thing you think of that you can do instead of sitting still doing and nothing. After counting slowly back from 5 ( 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...), take action on whatever you thought. I find this actually really helps.”
- Make a list of positives. Every time you think of a negative about yourself come up with three positives. Reprogram your brain to think positively and not negatively.
- Write down all the positive things people say about you and put these in a box. When you find you're putting yourself down, look in that box and remind yourself of all the good things.
10. Find out more. Other websites with good advice include:
- Young Minds - https://youngminds.org.uk/
- The Mix - https://www.themix.org.uk/
- Radio 1 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04pxgfk
- CALM, Campaign Against Living Miserably - https://www.thecalmzone.net/
If your anxiety is severe, persists, and interferes with your everyday life, you may require more specialist support. Your GP will be able to advise you.
Need more ideas or got one of your own? Maybe you want to share what the last six months have been like for you? We’re always looking for things to put on our B&A social media and blog posts.
Visit our Believe&Achieve pages on the Meningitis Now website.