Tips for improving your mental health

A young person's guide to improving wellbeing and help cope with the challenges that life may throw your way!

Alex avatar

By Alex Johnson

Updated on Nov 1st, 2022

Whilst it’s no surprise that many people have struggled with their mental health during lockdown and the pandemic, we still found it a shock, when written in black and white, to see that 70% of young people we surveyed this April, expressed that their mental health had declined over the last year.

Whilst most of our blogs talk offer support on driving, it’s clear that some wellbeing support may be appreciated too. My name is Alex, and I am the Wellbeing Champion and a Mental Health First Aider – so I thought I would share some tips to help those who may be struggling with their mental health, or who may know someone who is.

It goes without saying that here are Marmalade, we’re not professionals in mental health – so alongside some tips we’ve signposted you to further support below, if you need it.

Talk about how you're feeling

If you’re feeling low or anxious, you may have lots of things bothering you, or you could be concerned that you’re feeling numb. Talking to friends or family can be a good way to cope – just knowing you are being listened to can help you feel supported. It’s surprising how often when one person opens up that others share similar feelings and that, in itself can help you feel less alone.

Many of us will be happy to share how we’re feeling with a friend or family member, but if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t let this stop you. There are many charities and services that can provide support if you need to talk.

Connect with others

boy and girl chatting on bench
Lockdown has isolated many of us and being able to connect via phone or video chat has been a lifeline for many. However, it is easy to lose touch. Friends and family can keep us active (in mind and body) and can help us cope better with life’s struggles as they can often provide a fresh viewpoint and help you with problem solving. Simply chatting about life and laughing with friends can boost your sense of wellbeing too!

Now we’re heading out of lockdown, take the opportunity to meet up with your loved ones for a walk, a coffee, an activity – anything you both enjoy, that is permitted within the government guidelines of course!

Keep active and get enough sleep

Exercise releases endorphins and can help boost your mood and relieve stress. It also gives you a lovely smug feeling that you’ve done something that is good for you! Regular exercise is likely to boost self-esteem, help improve focus and help you sleep better.

Talking of sleep, getting enough of it, and sleeping well is good for your brand and body. In fact it is essential to your body’s function.

Eat well and drink sensibly

plate of healthy food
We’re not your parent’s, but mum has a point when she encourages you to eat healthy. Whilst a healthy body doesn’t always lead to a healthy mind, it certainly helps. Filling up on nutritious food and drinking plenty of water will boost your immunity and your brain function, and if you’re feeling well in yourself, it’s one less thing to worry about too.

It goes without saying that eating healthy includes limiting your alcohol intake, as drinking too much or too regularly can lower mood and affect your sleep. Although tempting, if you’re feeling low or anxious it is not a good way to manage difficult feelings, as they have short lived effects which could lead to a longer-term problem as it may lead to addiction.

Get help if you're struggling

This is one of the most important ones. We’ve been through a pandemic and young people have been hit particularly hard – facing disruption to their education and employment and missing some major milestones. A good first port of a call could be your GP, or if you are at school or college, it may be worth speaking to the Pastoral team.

There are too many great resources and charities to list here but the NHS Every Mind Matters is a great resource, and Young Minds specialise in support for young people. The Mix also specialise in support for under 25’s and can offer online and telephone counselling and support.

If you, or a loved one need urgent mental health support, please call 111 and select the mental health option.

Do something you enjoy or try something new

Girl playing ukelele
Being absorbed in an activity can help distract your mind and help you beat stress. Tasks that are new to you or are repetitive or require concentration can be good as they focus your mind so can help you forget your worries and change your mood.

All you need to do now is decide what to do – will it be sketching, a crossword, playing table tennis, learning the ukulele, or something entirely different?

Help others

Relationships with others are important in life – they help us feel part of something. Helping or caring for others can make us feel needed and valued, which boosts our self-esteem. Whist we don’t want to see others struggle or suffer, it can also help us feel grateful for positive aspects in our lives and to put our own problems into perspective.

Accept who you are

girl making a heart shape with her fingers
It is easy to compare ourselves to others and admire what others are good at or have achieved, but how often do you think about what makes you, you? We’re all different so it’s really important to accept and be happy with what makes you unique. Be proud of who you are – understand what you are good at and accept your weaknesses – and focus on what you do well. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to try new things and make new connections.

Learn ways to handle tough times

Unfortunately, it is a sad fact of line that we’ll have to struggle with challenges along life’s journey – some big, and some small. Forcing ourselves to use some of the tools mentioned above, during challenges times where you may feel low or overwhelmed can help you boost your mood and cope better with the situation.


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