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Tips for looking after your wellbeing – for 11-18 year olds

Tips for 11-18 year olds on how to look after your mental wellbeing.

Tips for looking after your wellbeing

If you need to take a moment for your wellbeing, we have some tips to help.

If you think you need some more support for your mental wellbeing or mental health, have a look at our page on finding support.

It’s important to remember different things work for different people. All of us are different and have different things going on in our lives. You don’t need to try anything you don’t think is right for you.

You know yourself best and there’s no perfect way to look after your wellbeing.

Understanding mental wellbeing

See information on what mental wellbeing is

How to look after my wellbeing right now

Sometimes we need to take a moment to look after our wellbeing in the short term. You might want to try some of these tips now. You could also save them to try later, if things start to feel difficult.

Take care of the things you need right now

It can be hard to improve how we’re feeling if we haven’t looked after some basic needs first. Do you need something to eat or drink? You might also be physically or mentally tired.

You might need to find a way to feel more comfortable in your body or mind. That could be things like leaving a loud place or adjusting your clothes.

Take a pause

If there’s a lot going on, taking a moment to stop can help. Things might feel less overwhelming if you take a break from whatever you’re doing.

It’s okay if you can’t take a proper break right now. Even taking a few seconds to notice how you’re feeling, or to have a quick rest, can help. See our page on understanding feelings for help with recognising your feelings.

Notice where you are

Some people find it calming to pay attention to where they are physically. You can try to notice what you can see, hear, touch, and smell around you, going through each sense in turn.

It might be easier to do this if it’s not too loud, bright or overwhelming where you are. You might need to put in ear plugs or to change the room you’re in. This can help you feel calmer, and make it easier to decide what else you need right now.

Try something else

Is there something that's helped you feel better before, like going for a walk or listening to music? You could give that another go.

If you’re not sure what could help, see if there’s anything that could distract you. Distracting yourself can help when you feel like you can’t cope with your feelings. You could try watching or listening to anything simple and comforting.

Connect with others

Talking to someone can help you feel less alone. You might want to talk about what’s going on for you, or about something completely different.

If there’s no one you feel comfortable talking to right now, you can reach out anonymously on places like The Mix and Childline. You can message, email or call advisors. You deserve to feel supported.

You might also want to be around other people but not talk to them. You could do things like visiting a public space like a library, youth centre or cafe.

Try to remember that everyone finds different things helpful. Just because something worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Or it might help, but just at another time in your life.

Stay safe

If you feel overwhelmed, or like you want to hurt yourself, support is available for you to talk things through. You deserve help as soon as you need it.

To talk with someone confidentially about how you feel, you can:

If you feel like you may attempt suicide, or you have seriously hurt yourself, this is an emergency. You can:

  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Tell an adult you trust and ask them to call 999 for help.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You aren't wasting anyone's time.

I think it is important that I do something that makes me feel better, even if I’m not sad. This could be sleeping a little bit longer, baking a cake or singing a song. Anything that makes me feel rejuvenated after.

How to look after my wellbeing in the long term

When we can, it’s important to look after our wellbeing regularly, not just when things are hard. Looking after ourselves isn’t selfish. It can make the rest of life easier to manage.

You might have tried lots of things, and found that nothing worked. Or this might be the first time you're trying to look after your wellbeing. That’s okay, and there’s no need to put pressure on yourself.

The important thing is to keep trying when you can. Everyone is different and it can take a while to find ways to look after your wellbeing.

You might also need to think about how you need to look after your wellbeing in different places. Is there something that might help when you're at home, at school or with your friends or partner(s)?

We asked other young people what they found helpful and added some tips of our own. You might find them helpful as a starting point.

You don’t need to follow any of the tips exactly. And you’re not doing anything wrong if you don’t find them helpful.

To have just one guaranteed moment of peace in your day, I think, is really amazing – Grace, 17

Do things that you enjoy and find relaxing

Doing something you enjoy can help improve your mood, clear your mind and make you feel more relaxed. It might even help your relationships with others and develop a useful or fun skill.

 You could try:

  • A hobby, like playing a sport
  • Spending time with your friends, family or partner(s)
  • Reading, watching films or gaming
  • Journaling and writing things down
  • Relaxation exercises, meditation or praying
  • Having time where you can just be quiet by yourself

I like reading a book before I go to bed so I can switch off from social media.

Be creative or learn something new

Doing something creative can help us find a way to express our feelings. It help us learn something new and feel good about ourselves. This could be things like:

  • Drawing, painting, photography, making videos or creative writing
  • Baking or cooking
  • Singing or playing an instrument
  • Dance or drama

It doesn’t have to be for anyone else or be perfect or good. It’s about how it makes you feel.

You could also try learning something new. This can be a great way of improving your confidence and getting a sense of achievement. You could try things like learning a new sport or language, or visiting a library, museum or art gallery.

Finding time to do things you love is important. If you can't do them right now, that's okay. See if you can plan to do something in the future.

Take care of your physical health

We need to take care of our physical and mental wellbeing. They can easily affect each other.

Try to make sure you're eating and drinking enough water. It's good to try to get enough sleep, and to have enough time doing restful things.

You can also try getting some exercise, like a sport, yoga, or going for a walk. Doing what you can to feel clean and fresh like brushing your teeth or having a shower can help too.

These things can be hard to manage if you're struggling. You might need to get some support, or to take really small steps. To start with, it might be things like getting out of bed or eating something.

If you feel better, you could wash your face or do some stretches. This isn’t always easy, so be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can.

Be kind to yourself, be your own best friend.

Keep connected with others

Being connected to others is really important for wellbeing.

Spending time with other people can improve how we feel. It can make us feel good to support others, too. You could organise something with your friends, family or partner(s), or text someone you’ve not spoken to in a while. You could try meeting new people by volunteering or by joining a new club.

There are lots of different ways of spending time with others. Sometimes, you might want to play a video game online with others or spend time with a pet.

Spend time in nature

Spending time outside in nature can help our mental and physical wellbeing. You could try things like going for a walk in a local park or sitting outside wherever you can.

If you’re not able to get outside, you can bring nature inside. You could notice any nature you see from your window, like birds or trees, or by listening to the rain. You could collect potted plants, leaves, flowers or pebbles to decorate your space.

You might also want to listen to nature sounds, or watch videos and play games set in the natural world.

I feel that exercise releases a lot of tension and gives me purpose.

Identify stressful situations or triggers

There might be things that make you feel worse or challenges that you find hard to manage. It can help to be as prepared as you can. That might mean planning what you’ll do in advance and having things ready to help you cope.

For example, you might make a calming playlist, save a TV show to look forward to or make sure you have easy food around.

Even when you’re going through stressful times, you could try planning things into your day that help. For example, you can plan to do the things you need to do in the morning and leave some free time to relax in the afternoon.

No matter what people say, self-care isn’t selfish. I’ve noticed than whenever I take self-care more seriously, it has a hugely positive impact on how I feel and act.

Remember the good times and plan more

When things are difficult, it can be hard to feel good. If you can, try remember that things didn’t always feel like this. If it feels good, you could look at things that remind you of good memories, like photos and videos on your phone.

You might also want to set goals for the future, both long-term and short-term. Just planning something nice for the future, like seeing a friend, could be enough.

Short-term goals are things like doing one thing for your wellbeing a day, for a few days. Long-term goals are things like starting a project or building a skill so you can do something new in the future.

Ask for more help if you need it

Even if you're managing okay sometimes, you don’t have to deal with everything on your own. Opening up to friends, family, partner(s) or other people you trust can help you feel supported.

Remember it's always okay to ask for help. You deserve to be looked after. See our page on finding support for more ideas on where you can get help and support.

Having a discussion with family members and close friends about what's been effective for boosting my wellbeing in the past, allows them to act as a prompt in times of need.

Focus on what works for you

Try not to compare yourself to others or what they find helpful for their wellbeing. Sometimes people might not understand why we like or enjoy certain things. Try to find activities that help you with looking after yourself.

Me listening to music helps my mental health because of the relationship I have with the song, the lyrics – Chantelle, 13

How different challenges can affect my wellbeing

It’s not your fault if you’re struggling to look after your wellbeing. Looking after your wellbeing can be difficult when there are other things going on in your life.

Some things that might affect us being able to look after our wellbeing are:

  • Managing lots of responsibilities at once, like school work and caring for others
  • Going through events that have a lot of pressure, like exam stress
  • Feeling pressure from others to focus on certain things, like school or hobbies
  • Having people around you who don’t understand you, or how you need to look after yourself
  • Not having the energy or ability to take care of yourself
  • Struggling with physical health and mental health problems

We might also face challenges from where we live, where we work, and our experiences in daily life.

Many of the things happening in the world can make looking after our wellbeing harder. This could be things like:

  • Not having enough money to look after our wellbeing in the ways we want to
  • Not being able to access help for our mental health
  • Not being able to access other health services
  • Not having a safe place to live, enough food or other basic needs
  • Where we live and the environment around us
  • Not being included in our families, friend groups or society generally
  • Experiencing or seeing racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or other kinds of discrimination
  • Being unfairly judged and treated badly for other things about you, like your religion, gender identity or being disabled

Challenges to looking after our wellbeing can be difficult to manage, especially when you're dealing with lots at once. It can be stressful and upsetting when some things aren’t in our control or when we’re treated unfairly.

The next section has some ideas for coping with these challenges.

Opening up to people about my wellbeing was scary at first but it took such a weight off me to know that I wasn’t alone. And it meant that my friends and family could give me more personal suggestions and support to help me with my wellbeing.

Tips for dealing with challenges to my wellbeing

It’s not always possible to make challenges to your wellbeing go away. But there are some things you can do, alone and with other people, to make it easier to cope.

These tips and ideas might help if you feel like other people haven’t included you or treated you fairly.

Build your confidence and self esteem

It’s important to be around people who understand us. It's also important to celebrate our successes. Learning something new can also help us feel more confident in ourselves.

Try to celebrate your identity

Your identity is the mixture of all the things that make you who you are. Some examples are your hobbies, the people around you, where you come from and what matters to you in life.

You might want to pick out some parts of yourself to celebrate. What do you like about being you?

You could also think about the people you care about and what makes them who they are. Feeling connected to people who care about you can help you celebrate your identity. Feeling connected to people who are similar to you can make things easier, too.

Find support from groups and communities   

Connecting with people like ourselves can help us feel more understood and less alone. This might be things like in-person groups or talking to others online.

Some groups might just be for fun activities. Other groups might be for learning about cultures and communities you’re part of. For example, you might learn a language together, play musical instruments, watch films or cook food together.

You could also look for groups that are trying to make the world a better place. You can see places that offer support, and ideas for all kinds of different people on our useful contacts page.

Managing what you see on the news and social media

We can’t always avoid what’s going on in the world, or stop ourselves from thinking about it. Sometimes the news or social media can affect how we feel about ourselves. If that is happening, you could take breaks from listening to, watching or reading anything that feels difficult.

When I posted on social media, you have the good sides, the bad sides, the positives and the negatives – Ruby, 15

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes things might feel like too much. You might need a break from thinking about all sort of things. That includes taking breaks from thinking about how to look after yourself.

You’re doing your best. That’s already more than enough.

I'm looking for more support

See our page on finding support

This information was published in November 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

The quotes on this page are from young people we spoke to while making this information. They've given us their consent to use their quotes in our information. The words, experiences and opinions in the quotes are not related to the young people shown in any of the photographs we use.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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