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What helps?

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Photo: Australian Red Cross/Catfish

There are things you can do to make it easier to cope.

Doing things:

  • do things that are active and useful (but avoid over-activity)
  • do things that make you feel good, like being with friends.

 

Talking and listening:

  • talk about your experiences and how you feel, and make time to listen to others

Reducing media exposure:

  • avoid viewing TV, internet , radio or newspaper articles which are replaying the crisis

Getting support:

  • be open to receiving support and comfort
  • let people know what you think you need
  • spend time with family or friends, people you trust.

Making time:

  • make time and space to be alone with your thoughts and feelings
  • make time to do things that feel good.

Exercising and resting:

  • exercise, rest and play to look after your physical and mental health
  • see below for more tips.

Getting back into routine:

  • return to school, work or everyday routines and familiar activities
  • go back to clubs or sports groups.

If you’re feeling stressed try: 

  • slow and deep breathing
  • tensing and relaxing your body
  • stretching
  • going for a walk
  • listening to relaxing music.

 

Here’s some more in-depth information.

Sleep

In stressful times, your brain needs to switch off to properly recharge. Rest is the best way to recharge your batteries, and help you be your strongest, physically and mentally.

  • Turn off your mobile, TV or computer to give yourself a real chance of getting to sleep. Ask people not to interrupt your sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon. Avoid coffee and energy drinks. These are stimulants that will keep you awake at night.
  • Dark or dim lighting is good because it helps your brain rest, by first resting your eyes. Turn the lights off or dim them late at night to give yourself a good chance at sleep.
  • Some people find it hard to sleep after a traumatic event but usually this passes with time. If you can’t sleep, lying down and remaining still and calm will help your body and mind rest a little bit. You might like to try reading or listening to relaxing music.

Water

Staying hydrated helps with concentration levels. Drinking lots of water can help with decision-making too. Avoid soft drinks and energy drinks, because these can over stimulate your body. Stick to good old-fashioned H2O. It’s a really healthy habit to get into.

Diet

We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us but if you’re going through a tough time, what you eat is especially important. Food affects you physically and mentally, so make sure you’re looking after your whole body, not just your taste buds.

  • Avoid sugars and fats. Ever heard of a sugar high? Well, you really need to avoid ups and downs like that. Try to stay balanced by eating meals that will give you energy for a long time, like wholemeal bread, rice, bananas, chicken …
  • Snack on nuts, rice crackers, fruit and cheese.
  • Make sure you eat. During stressful times, some people lose their appetite. If this happens to you, try to eat smaller meals or snacks. Milkshakes and fruit are a good way to ease back into larger meals if you’re not feeling up to it.

Talking

Many people find it very helpful to talk about their experiences. It’s a good way to process your thoughts, by getting them out of your head and sharing them with others.

  • Go to people you trust. This might be a mate, a sibling or parent. It could be a teacher, coach, boss or a neighbour. It’s important that you’re comfortable with them.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the event. If you feel up to it, it’s okay to talk about the details of what happened - what did you see, hear or do during the event? This can help you work through what happened and how you feel now.
  • Counsellors or doctors can help too. For some people, it helps to talk with an expert. If you think that would help you, look online for doctors or youth services in your area. It’s confidential (no-one has to know) and usually it’s free. Visit Kids Helpline.
  • Remember, things change over time. You may not feel like talking right away. It might be weeks, months or even years after the event that you decide you need to discuss your experience. That’s okay, you’ll know when is the right time for you.

Physical activity

This doesn’t have to be sport, but getting outside and moving your body is a great way to help recover after a traumatic event. Ever felt a bit of a buzz after being active? When we move around a lot, our bodies generate serotonin - it’s a chemical that makes us feel good. Lots of people feel less stressed after getting active.

  • Walking. Grab your music and go for a short, or a long, stroll.
  • Games or sport with mates are great ways to connect with others. You could organise a game of footy or cricket, or even handball at school.
  • Think outside the square and find ways to add more activity to your day. Dancing in your room is free, easy and no-one has to know about it. Just plug in the music and shake it out!
  • Listen to your body and know your limits. Working out is good, but don’t overdo it.

Get creative

Lots of young people we speak to say that creative activities help them through tough times.

  • Writing songs, stories, poems, letters etc. You could keep a diary or a blog, or comment on others.
  • Drawing and painting create visual versions of what’s on your mind.
  • Making a film or animation is a great format for storytelling.
  • Playing or listening to music. The great things about tunes is there’s something to match every mood.
  • Photography, sculpture, making jewellery or clothes … the list goes on.
  • listening to relaxing music.
  • going for a walk

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