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What Makes Me Feel Safe and Secure

How are you feeling right now? Can you check-in with yourself?

It can help to regularly check-in with yourself and rate this over the hours, days and weeks.

  • Scale 0-10: 0 being not safe at all and 10 feeling totally secure, with all the numbers representing the levels of security somewhere in between.
  • Ok to Not Ok: Ok being exactly that, feeling fine to simply not ok and recognising you don’t feel as you want to. This can be a much simpler way of working out how you are feeling at any given moment.

It can help to get into the habit of checking-in with yourself every so often, particularly when we are having to deal with the emotional impact of challenging times.

Here a just a few reasons it can help to know what you are feeling:

  1. Helping us to become more aware of our feelings: Often just acknowledging our feelings and becoming more aware of them over time is very helpful for our overall mental health. Have you ever had a time when you just knew something didn’t feel right? If you get a chance to sit with it and let yourself accept that you are feeling it, then it can start to become clear.
  2. Learning to sense when you have been triggered: If you are feeling something strongly it might also be that something has previously happened that had triggered this feeling in you. This is not always the case but sometimes it is. Over time, becoming aware of what triggers you can help you to come to understand this more subconscious part of your psyche. If you come to understand these triggers then you may start to develop a feeling of being more in control over your feelings in relation to the triggers. Once you know that the feeling may have come from something that triggers you, it can often be that the sting is taken out of the trigger and this can help.
  3. Knowing what helps you to feel comfortable and safe: If you become aware of the things that help you to feel comfortable and safe then you can build more of these into your life. Your positive mental health will get a big boost.

Window Of Tolerance

A helpful concept for coming to understand yourself is identifying something called your Window of Tolerance. We all have one and do you that it can be big, it can be small and it can also expand as well as shrink!

Take a look at your life at the moment. There are probably things that you feel you can do easily without feeling emotionally unsettled, worried or out of your comfort zone. There are probably things too that you think, hold on! even the idea of that is making me sweat and my heart race. When we get that feeling it means we are moving toward being out of that place where we can be certain we can feel safe. We can call this moving out of our window of tolerance.

Example

There are so many examples of when we find ourselves confronting our Window of Tolerance. In fact this can happen every day. Here is one example of someone who might be dealing with feelings in relation to the current lockdown situation.

Imagine that you have had some difficulty in the past with going out and seeing friends, not a big deal but sometimes you have preferred to stay at home, you know that you feel safe there. Along comes lockdown and we have been told that you can’t go out. You have now spent the last 8 weeks not going out. However, lockdown has come to an end and you are aware that there is pressure to return to normal, back to work, school, Uni or whatever you may have been involved in. How does this feel? It’s likely, if similar to many of us, the fact that you have not been out for a while, that  you have got used to your home and your creature comforts that this has adjusted your window of tolerance, possibly shrinking it more to the four walls of you home.

What does the mean for your overall emotional wellbeing now that lockdown has finished? Well maybe this could be likened to a corresponding physical health problem, where it’s been easy to get out of our regular physical fitness regime. On a physical level if you have stopped that hour jog in the morning or the weekly trip to the gym, you are likely to know that at some point it will help you to get back on track and this to begin with will feel a bit like hard work.

In terms of your emotional wellbeing, your Window of Tolerance can be likened to a way of measuring your emotional tolerance rather than your physical fitness. If you decide to get back on track with your physical fitness and start up your fitness regime again, it’s likely that you would take this slowly to begin with. You can also do this with your emotional or mental health. You can start to slowly stretch or expand your Window of Tolerance to ease you back into the world.

How Do You Expand Your Window Of Tolerance

What is one important area in your life that you might feel your tolerance has shrunk in recently? Can you identify where your tolerance level is now? It might be, for example, that you are aware that you had no difficulty going into the park, supermarket, walking down the street prior to lockdown but now that all feels uncomfortable. What would be one way of slowly beginning to expand your Window of Tolerance, just like doing those slow easy work out exercises that slowly get you back in shape.

You can decide on this, you can be your own mental health coach. How much of going into those places is tolerable for you now? Now add a bit more to that, so that it stretches you a bit but without it feeling to unsettling or overwhelming. Practice doing this for a while and then expand a bit more each day, week and so on. You will notice that your Window of Tolerance will grow again and your mental and emotional health will definitely feel a boost.

Information, advice and support for young people during COVID-19.

Dealing with anxiety during covid-19
https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/anxiety/

Lots of information and resources to help you cope with coronavirus and the impacts it has on you.
https://www.foyer.net/news/covid-19-helpful-resources-for-working-with-young-people

A series of audio guides to help you cope with issues including depression, stress and anxiety.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/moodzone-mental-wellbeing-audio-guides/

Body & Soul is providing a weekly MindSET Livestream session that will be accessible to any young person in psychological distress.
http://bodyandsoulcharity.org/sharethelove/#text-blocks-mindset

A podcast where OCD expert Dr Jon Grayson answers listener questions about the coronavirus and OCD.
https://theocdstories.com/podcast/dr-jon-grayson-coronavirus-covid-19-ocd/

Advice for making sure you sleep well during the pandemic
https://www.youthaccess.org.uk/downloads/hunrosa-covid-infographic1.pdf

Peace First is launching a rapid response grant process to help young people around the world lead projects that address community impacts of COVID-19, from providing meals to elderly neighbours to launching digital mental health campaigns to support youth feeling isolated. Rapid response grants are open to young people between the ages of 13-25, anywhere in the world.
https://www.peacefirst.org/covid-19