Tips From an Expert

Mental health basics

Anushka is a psychologist specialising in youth mental health, we spoke to her about what it means to be okay, and how to cope when you’re not doing so well. 

What does being okay mean to you?

Being okay means that I’m able to get through the day, that you’re feeling present, centred and grounded. You don’t have to be 100% to be feeling okay or even super happy. I think it’s important to remember that happiness is your baseline. 

What steps do you take to look after your own mental wellbeing?

This is always a tough one to answer, mental health practitioners often don’t practice what we preach to our clients. To look after my mental wellbeing I try to: 

  • Maintain good physical health (walks, gym, exercise, dancing) 
  • Doing things I love at least once a week (reading, painting, cooking, hanging out with friends, watching movies) 
  • Take a day just to myself once a month (don’t see anyone else that day) 
  • Look after my diet and make sure I’m eating well 
  • Created a new sleep routine 
  • Learning to say no to opportunities if I don’t have the time, energy or mental space for it 
  • Finding new ways to stay organised to help reduce anxiety 

What advice would you give to a young person seeking professional support for the first time?

  • It might seem scary or anxiety provoking at first but it will get better 
  • You don’t need to give your entire life story all in one go, this can be super overwhelming. If you find it easier to type or write it all up before your session that's okay too you can usually give this to your therapist. 
  • Therapy takes time, you might feel a bit off after your first session especially if you discuss heavy stuff but that’s okay you’ll work through this and the feeling will improve 
  • Suss out your psychologist if you’re not vibing, consider discussing it with your therapist. Don’t be scared - we get this a lot and completely understand if it’s not a good fit. 
  • You got this!

What’s your favourite (online) mental health resource and how can we access it?

  • I might be biased but Kindred’s Youth Mental Health Toolkit! 
  • Also for ADHD

What are your three favourite coping strategies for a young person feeling overwhelmed?

  1. 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique (Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste)
  2. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help people get to sleep.
  3. Pick a category (i.e. movies) and name something from that category for every letter of the alphabet (a - z) or as many things from that category as you can in one minute. 

What advice would you give to a young person struggling right now? 

For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction.

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