Hindsight is a mean creature. Imagine the lives that could be saved, if we knew today what we will find out tomorrow. Suicide stole a friend of mine. As cliché as it sounds...suicide really did steal a piece of everyone who knew him that day.

I'm 20, and I'm sitting at a friend's funeral. I didn't think this was coming for another 50 years. Ten days earlier, we'd been chatting away, making plans to catch up. The next day, he took his life. He didn't seem himself the weekend before he did it. I knew he wasn't happy and we were worried. I asked him if he was going to "do something silly" but he said he "was fine," so I assumed he was. I spoke to him the next day and he said he was great, and we organized to go to a football game the next week.

Taking care of yourself keeps your mind and body primed and ready to deal with stressful situations.

Taking care of yourself can mean anything from paying attention to your own needs and feelings to helping others whose problems are more serious than yours.  It can mean finding the will to live well, engaging in activities that you enjoy and experience as relaxing.  It can mean slowing down and doing nothing at all for awhile.

Every one of us faces times of anxiety, stress and pain. These suggestions are ideas for ways to help you get through the tough times. Taking these small steps can help reduce even normal levels of stress that come with life as a young person. They won't help everybody all the time, but even a little can make a difference.

Your heart rate is beating faster and you feel better, today and tomorrow.

Any amount of exercise can noticeably boost your mood.

Helps the body:

  • Improves sleep
  • Increases energy
  • Decreases pain
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Manages body weight

Helps the mind:

  • Stimulates blood flow into the brain
  • Reduces stress, distress and anxiety by burning off stress-inducing hormones
  • Lifts mood by releasing feel-good hormonesdoodleskate
  • Improves self-confidence with better fitness
  • Relieves pent-up muscle tension

Coping is...

...managing stress and anxiety. At some point in our lives, most of us will face times that are almost unbearable. Knowing how to use some key coping strategies can make a huge difference.

There are some specific things you can do to get through tough times, in addition to the exercising, keeping up your spirit and making sure you are getting enough sleep—and all the other self-care strategies

Research says:

  • People who were able to write about difficult events had better health and less depression. Writers' grades even improved, and they found jobs more quickly.
  • People who tried to work through problems by looking for solutions and taking control felt less depressed.
  • People who managed to stay positive, even when things were tough in their lives, were able to move on more easily and were less upset by difficult memories.

Healthy Eating Really Helps

You know this: You've got to eat well to function well. Each of us have different needs when it comes to food. But there are some universal truths.

Among other benefits, good food can:

    • boost your energy
    • lower the risk of developing certain diseases
    • provide fuel to your brain
    • counteract the impact of stress on your body
    • affect mood-related body chemicals

Ironically, in times of stress just when good nutrition can be so useful to us, many of us tend to eat poorly. According to a recent survey nearly half of Americans overeat or eat unhealthy food to cope with stress. In fact, it's not just that we're seeking creamy comfort—our stress hormones actually give us the munchies.

If the problems in your life are stopping you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference. And if you're having trouble, know that you are not alone. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of youth in America are living with diagnosable mental health issues. These numbers increase as young people enter the adolescence age brackets. Many don't get the help they need.

Helping Others Helps You Too

You lug your elderly neighbor's groceries up her steps, and you know it's a good deal for her, right? What might surprise you is that it's likely good for you too.
People who regularly help other people experience less depression, manage stress better, and have better health. They may even live longer! Research says;
  • Students who performed five acts of kindness a day increased their happiness
  • Providing emotional support to others significantly decreased the harmful health effects of certain kinds of stress among older people
  • People who donated money to charity got a boost in a feel-good part of the brain, as revealed in brain imaging research
Doing good can make you feel good. It might;
  • remind you that compared to some you're relatively lucky
  • make you feel connected to others
  • help you feel needed and effective
  • take your mind off your own worries for a while
  • make you feel generous
  • add a sense of purpose and meaning to your life

You know that life can be pretty tough sometimes. Problems that you face may be severe, ranging from significant changes at home, to being bullied, to the death of someone close to you. These things can be really painful to you and to others. Each person who suffers from really rough times responds differently. Some can get pretty low and stay there, while others seems to be able to bounce back. Why is that? Those who bounce back are using the skills of "resilience."

Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of hard times. The skills of resilience are used to bounce back from big, as well as little, stressors, by processing and managing tough situations and calling on available support. People who haven't developed strong resilience don't deal as well with challenging situations and can get pretty distressed by them. The skills of resilience can be learned anytime in life. Even if things seems to be going well for you, it's good to work on building your resilience skills for a time that you may need them. 

People who are resilient have:

  • Feelings of competence
  • A belief that there is always something one can do to manage one's feelings and cope
  • Positive social relationships
  • Impulse control
  • Problem solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Goals, aspirations, dreams, a sense of purpose
  • Life-affirming spiritual, religious or cultural beliefs
  • Knowledge about when and where to get help
  • A sense of humor
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • A sense of responsibility
  • A positive outlookrainbow
  • A sense of oneself as a survivor rather than a victim
  • A positive moral compass
  • Tolerance for differences in people, ideologies and beliefs

Protective Factors: The Building Blocks of Resilience

Every day you make choices that may seem inconsequential to you, but are actually building your core strengths in resilience by "cultivating protective factors". It sound complicated, but its actually pretty simple. Protective factors are the things around you, resources and conditions that are available to you. You might notice protective factors at home, at school, in your community, and amongst your friends. By increasing your protective factors and reducing your risk factors, you can start improving your well-being. 

Learn where to look for protective factors

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