Self-Care Tips

Born This Way Foundation, in partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health and National Association of School Psychologists, has created a list of resources for young people based on the issues that you’ve told us you impact your daily lives most. If there’s something missing or if you had any additional resource you’d like to add, please email info@bornthisway.foundation.

Building Healthy and Positive Relationships

Healthy, positive relationships and friendships are built on respect, love and kindness. Knowing the signs of a healthy relationship can help you identify when your relationship might be unhealthy and how to turn it around.

  1. SET YOUR OWN BOUNDARIES. You get to choose how much of your life to share with another person and shouldn’t feel pressured to share more.
  2. IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO. If something makes you uncomfortable you can choose not to do it. In a healthy relationship your decisions are respected.
  3. KNOW YOUR OWN WORTH. You shouldn’t be asked to change the unique person that you are in order to gain anyone’s trust or respect.
  4. COMMUNICATION IS KEY. Healthy relationships rely on being able to express one’s thoughts and feelings without being judged or ridiculed. You don’t have to agree with someone in order to respect and support them.
  5. CONFLICT IS NORMAL. You can overcome conflicts by listening openly to understand various perspectives. Recognize that you don’t always have to agree, although you should respect different opinions.
  6. KNOW WHEN TO APOLOGIZE. Everyone makes mistakes and a sincere apology is a brave and meaningful way of repairing relationships.
  7. PERSONAL SPACE IS IMPORTANT. People need their own time to enjoy hobbies, hang out with friends and family, or just be alone. No one else should control how you spend your personal time.
  8. HONESTY AND TRUST. Trust is essential to any healthy relationship and being truthful is essential to building trust. This includes being factually truthful and honest about thoughts and feelings without being hurtful.
  9. PRIVACY. Emails, phone calls, and text messages sent to you were meant for you. You have a right to keep them private and you should expect others to keep your messages private as well.
  10. MUTUAL SUPPORT. In healthy relationships people support each other’s hopes and dreams, help each other through difficult times, encourage each other, and are willing to compromise.

Managing Stress
Stress is a normal part of dealing with the many changes you are experiencing. However, too much stress builds up and may result in physical or emotional problems. Here’s what you can do to cope effectively with stress:

  1. RECOGNIZE YOUR STRESS: Instead of trying to deny the feeling, pay attention to what you are feeling. Notice how it may be affecting you; maybe you feel tension or you are feeling a lot of pressure. Maybe it’s making you sad or angry. Paying attention to your reaction is the first way of resolving it.
  2. TALK ABOUT IT: Stay in touch with others, hang out with friends, or talk to a trusted adult. Talk to someone who really knows you and what you are up against. Ask them to just listen as you explain your situation. Talking through things calmly can help.
  3. THINK ABOUT WHAT HELPS YOU COPE: Remember other times when you made it through a stressful event or situation. Focus on what helped you during those times.
  4. KEEP YOUR COOL: Find a little time to relax and chill. Remember to breathe; a few extra deep breaths can do wonders.
  5. DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Whatever you enjoy the most will help you get through the situation. If you like to listen to music, do it. If you like to read, find a good book.
  6. REMEMBER THAT STRESS IS TEMPORARY: Sometimes situations that are stressful seem like they will never end. Remember that the intensity of whatever may be stressing you out will pass in time.
  7. GET MOVING: Go for a walk, a run, or play your favorite sport. This is a good time for activity. Any form of exercise can help reduce your level of stress.
  8. HELP OTHERS: Focusing your attention on others can often help you put things in perspective.
  9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: Losing sleep, not eating, and worrying can make you sick. Try to keep a normal routine in taking care of yourself.
  10. DO NOT USE ALCOHOL OR DRUGS: While they make you feel better for the moment; alcohol and drugs will make you feel worse and increase your stress level in the end.

Know When to Get Help
You can take care of your emotional health just like you can take care of any other health problem. You can take action to help yourself or a friend by knowing when to get help and where to get it. You should get help when you or someone else is:

  1. SPENDING MORE TIME ALONE. Changing friends or spending more time away from family is ok, but avoiding others altogether can be cause for concern.
  2. AVOIDING CERTAIN SITUATIONS. Staying away from activities with food, lots of people, or specific places may be a sign that something is wrong.
  3. INCREASING ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE. Using drugs or drinking is harmful to your health, and can make a mental health challenge worse. Planning activities around using drugs or drinking, needing to use or drink before a party or other activity, or spending more time with others who drink or do drugs are all reasons to get help.
  4. SLEEPING ALL THE TIME OR UNABLE TO SLEEP.
  5. ANXIOUS OR AGITATED ALL THE TIME. Having sudden outbursts of anger or overreacting to normal events may be a signal that help is needed.
  6. STRUGGLING IN SCHOOL. This may include a drop in grades, not being able to finish homework or other assignments, no longer participating in activities once enjoyed, or skipping class regularly.
  7. ACTING RECKLESSLY. Engaging in risky activities such as drinking or using drugs, driving recklessly, and having unprotected sex is harmful and dangerous.
  8. FEELING HOPELESS, HELPLESS, OR TRAPPED.
  9. NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF. Ignoring your nutrition, sleep, exercise, and/or hygiene can be signs of a bigger underlying concern.
  10. THINKING OR TALKING ABOUT SUICIDE, DEATH OR DYING. All thoughts of suicide must be taken seriously. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, to speak to someone about these thoughts.

Bullying: Everyone Can Help

Bullying is wrong. It is harmful and can make anyone feel frightened, upset, or powerless. Don’t simply stand by. Everyone can help stop bullying. Here’s how:

  1. DONT”S GIVE THE BULLY AN AUDIENCE. Don’t laugh, cheer them on, or be part of a silent crowd.
  2. LET THE BULLY KNOW THEIR BEHAVIOR ISN’T COOL. Use phrases like: “Leave him/her alone,” “Putting someone down isn’t cool,” “No one thinks this is funny,” or “Stop being such a bully.”
  3. ONLY INTERVENE WHEN YOU FEEL SAFE TO DO SO. Walk away or get help if necessary.
  4. HELP THE BULLIED PERSON GET AWAY. Create a distraction or make an excuse that he or she is needed elsewhere.
  5. BE KIND TO THE PERSON BEING BULLIED. Ask them if they are okay. Say something positive about who they are. Invite them to join your group.
  6. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Don’t bully others, ever.
  7. NEVER PARTICIPATE IN CYBERBULLYING. Let an adult know if you read comments about hurting others or oneself.
  8. ENCOURAGE OTHERS. Talk to your friends and agree to stand up to bullies together.
  9. NEVER USE VIOLENCE OR BULLYING TO DEAL WITH A BULLY. Remember, bullies often need help, too.
  10. REPORT THE BULLYING TO A TRUSTED ADULT(e.g., parent, teacher, coach). Know who this is. Remember, reporting is not ratting.

Helping Others in Distress
No one should have to handle a mental health challenge on their own. You can help a friend, sibling, neighbor or classmate. You may be all the help they need, or may be the one who can encourage them to get more help. Here’s how:

  1. TALK TO THEM. Do not force anyone to talk, but simply offer that you are available if they want to talk.
  2. SHOW THAT YOU CARE. Simply saying that you are there for the person helps them know they are not alone.
  3. STAY CALM. Speaking calmly, quietly and slowly helps set the tone for them to do the same.
  4. LISTEN. Sometimes, just being there and giving the person the chance to talk is the best help you can provide.
  5. SHOW EMPATHY. Don’t tell them you are sorry for them, but recognize their feelings for what they are, such as “I can see how frustrating that is” or “You must be really upset.”
  6. TELL THEM YOUR CONCERNS. Bring up anything you’ve seen. Do not make it about how it affects you or anyone else; keep the focus on them. Do not use guilt, sarcasm, or convey a negative judgment about them or their actions.
  7. REMIND THEM OF ACTIVITIES THEY ENJOY. Don’t tell them what to do, just offer suggestions.
  8. ASK/ THINK ABOUT WHO IS HELPFUL IN THEIR LIFE. Who has helped in the past? Can they be helpful now?
  9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Helping others can be tiring. Know the limits of what you can do. You can help and listen as a friend, but you can’t do everything on your own.
  10. KNOW WHO TO GO TO FOR MORE HELP. Trusted adults might be able to connect them to care. A variety of professionals can help with different kinds of mental health challenges, including doctors, nurses, mental health counselors, school psychologists, drug and alcohol specialists, nutrition experts, and peer specialists.

Resilience: Handling Life's Challenges
Adversity is a natural part of life. Everyone faces difficulties at some point. Learning new ways to adapt and bounce back is critical to growing and thriving in life. Here are some ways to build resilience:

  1. THINK POSITIVE. Practicing positive attitudes and emotions is very important. Think to yourself, “I am capable and deserve to be successful” rather than focusing on what could go wrong.
  2. ASK FOR HELP. Don’t be afraid to ask a parent, trusted adult at school, or friend for help when you need it. We all need help sometime and you can be there for someone else, too.
  3. EXPRESS YOURSELF. Expressing our emotions appropriately, even negative ones, is healthy. Talk with someone you trust or find a creative outlet through art, writing, or music. Remember aggression and violence are never okay.
  4. STAY HEALTHY. Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and adequate sleep can help reduce stress. Regular exercise also decreases negative feelings like anxiety, anger, and depression.
  5. FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS. Identify some of your personal strengths as well as what you have done in the past to cope when you were worried or upset.
  6. DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY.  Having fun, stretching ourselves, and connecting are important. Engage in a sport or activity, listen to music, read or write, or simply hang out with friends.
  7. SHOW GRATITUDE.  Being grateful improves our attitude towards ourselves and others. Say “thank you” to people who have helped you personally or someone in your school or community who has made a difference.
  8. IMPROVE YOUR PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS. Think through what happened after a disappointing event. Ask yourself what you did right, not just what you may have done wrong. Consider additional steps that might be more effective next time.
  9. DEVELOP PEACE BUILDING SKILLS. Join a conflict resolution and peer mediation group at your school. Find a faculty mentor to start a group if one does not exist.
  10. DO SOMETHING POSITIVE FOR OTHERS. Contributing helps us feel more in control and connected. Consider volunteering at a local shelter or community center or get involved with a service program at school or through your faith community.

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
Suicide rarely happens without warning. All thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously. Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. You just might save a life by talking about it. Never agree to keep someone’s suicidal thoughts or plans a secret; the most important thing you can do is get help. Warning signs include:

  1. TALKING ABOUT OR WRITING ABOUT DEATH, DYING, OR SUICIDE. 
  2. THINKING ABOUT OR THREATENING SELF-HARM OR SUICIDE. 
  3. SEEKING ACCESS TO MEANS OF SUICIDE, SUCH AS GATHERING PILLS OR WEAPONS. 
  4. GIVING AWAY PRIZED POSSESSIONS.
  5. HAVING RAGE, ANGER, SEEKING REVENGE, OR BEING AGITATED ALL THE TIME. 
  6. WITHDRAWING FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, OR REGULAR ACTIVITIES. 
  7. INCREASING USE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. 
  8. ACTING RECKLESSLY OR ENGAGING IN RISKY ACTIVITIES. 
  9. FEELING HOPELESS, HELPLESS, WORTHLESS, OR TRAPPED. 
  10. HAVING A DRAMATIC CHANGE IN MOOD. This can include someone who suddenly seems better. This sudden change can indicate that they have made their suicide plan.

If you are concerned someone may be suicidal, or are considering killing yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, to speak to someone right away.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
Sometimes being brave or doing the right thing means stepping out of your comfort zone. Doing so can help you build new strengths. Here are some ideas to start:

  1. TRY A NEW ACTIVITY OR SPORT. Do something you haven’t done before. It’s okay if you’re not successful at first.
  2. REACH OUT TO SOMEONE THAT YOU DON’T KNOW VERY WELL. Simply talk with them or invite them to join you in an activity. You might make a new friend, or just make the other person feel good.
  3. TRY JOINING A NEW GROUP. Sit with different kids in the cafeteria, change your seat in class (if allowed), or get involved with a student organization. It will give you a new perspective.
  4. GIVE BACK. Volunteer in the community, read to younger students in the elementary school, or serve as a mentor.
  5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES. It’s a great way to learn.
  6. ASK QUESTIONS. Questions mean you are interested and engaged, not stupid. Whether it is a simple fact or understanding what someone else is thinking, you’ll never know unless you ask.
  7. TRY SOMETHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED BUT WERE AFRAID TO DO. Make sure it is safe and legal. Ask someone you trust to help or join you. Feel proud that you are taking positive steps.
  8. SPEAK UP FOR OTHERS, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT HAVE DIFFICULTY SPEAKING UP FOR THEMSELVES. 
  9. TAKE ON A NEW RESPONSIBILITY. It could be a new role at school, a job, or a volunteer position. Feeling and being responsible is a critical strength.
  10. DREAM A LITTLE. Set a long-term goal that you would like to accomplish, identify strategies for achieving it, and mark your progress towards reaching it.