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3 of the best self-help tips for teens

School, family, friends and the future - just some of the normal experiences of life that can cause stress, anxiety and pressure for children and young people. To stay well, we must learn to look after our feelings as well as our bodies.

The Listening Ear supports you to discover healthy ways to look after your own mental wellbeing.

Look after your mental wellbeing

1. Stay connected to people

Two teenage girls lie on the hood of a car talking.
Talking helps teenagers connect

Keeping in touch with friends or spending time with family is a good way to feel connected.

It is great if you can get together face to face to do things with people as that helps you feel more connected. If that seems difficult, try starting some activities that can build friendships, like an after-school club or sport. That can give you shared things to talk about and kickstart connections. And don't worry about being a beginner; most people like to show others how to do something - being new is a fab conversation starter.

For free activities, try introducing someone to your favourite computer game or learning theirs. Go for a walk together; we have a tonne of great spots for a walk from Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks, Avon Heath, Upton Country Park or any of the parks and playgrounds dotted around Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

If friends and family are not an option, then finding ways to help other people is another fantastic way to get that sense of belonging and connection.

A boy and girl teenager work together clearing litter from a beach.
Volunteering helps you feel good

Volunteering through organisations like the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme or at a local community centre or charity can give us a strong sense of wellbeing. When we help other people, it helps us feel good. Dorset Council helps local young people find volunteering opportunities.

2. Mindfulness

A woman meditates on a beach
Nature helps mindfulness

Mindfulness helps us feel calmer and more in the moment. Mindfulness also helps us release distractions from our mind and concentrate. That's probably why so many top athletes and stars use it to help them stay at the top of their game.

What's great about mindfulness is that you can practice mindfulness almost anywhere at almost any time. A quick breathing exercise on the bus. Half an hour to destress before bed. Thirty seconds between questions in an exam.

The other thing that makes mindfulness a brilliant stress buster is that you don't need anyone else to learn how to do it. Check out some of the sites and apps below to get started in a moment.

3. Ask for help

A female maths teacher writing on the board
Confide in a friendly teacher

Talking to someone you trust if you are feeling anxious or low can help lift your mood.

When you are feeling low or anxious, it is easy to think negatively about yourself and be less likely to seek support from others. Try to push past this feeling and approach people that you trust to talk to. You may be surprised at how much better you might feel and how they have responded positively to you, as you would if the situation were reversed.

Teachers or group leaders, teaching assistants or the school librarian - if there is an adult you trust, find a quiet minute and ask to talk to them. Most people enjoy helping other people and people who work with young people generally want to help them have good mental health. Perhaps stay back after class, or get there a bit early to find a quiet minute; you might be pleasantly surprised by their response.

If you need help right now, try calling Childline on 0800 1111 or call us. We offer counselling for young people between 10-19 in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas. You can refer yourself for support; our number and email are on the contact page. If you are on Facebook, you can also message our page and one of our counsellors will get back to you. Or you can ask an adult to get in touch for you.

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