Self-care is important for everyone, especially those whose role includes caring for others. We have teamed up with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to give you, our Bumkins parents and caregivers, access to self-care tips that will help you take care of yourself so you can be your best when taking care of your littles.
For All Stages of Parenthood, Guardianship, and Caregiving
Raising children is one of the most rewarding things, however it is also very easy to prioritize everybody else before yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can properly care for those around you. Here are some evergreen self-care tips when you’re raising humans:
1 PRIORITIZE YOUR NUTRITIONAL NEEDS. It’s important to fuel your body to keep up with your seemingly never-ending energy filled little one.
2 PRACTICE MINDFULNESS. It’s a great way to find gratitude in all moments of parenthood.
3 TRY A BREATHING EXERCISE. Whether you’re overwhelmed, stressed, or feeling angry, this can help you ground yourself and give you the ability to calmly handle the situation at hand.
4 GIVE YOURSELF A HUG. You’re doing a great job, even when you feel you’re not.
5 FIND A SUPPORT GROUP, IN-PERSON OR ONLINE. Parenting is hard. It’s important to feel supported when you need it.
6 SPEND A LITTLE MONEY ON YOURSELF. As a parent, you spend so much on supporting your child; it’s ok to treat yourself - you’ve earned it.
7 TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. You can’t pour from your cup if your cup is empty. Time for yourself is ok, and in fact, it’s essential.
8 UTILIZE A SELF-CARE OR MEDITATION APP. It’s a great way to stay on-track with daily check-ins, moments of grounding, and moments of gratitude.
9 MAINTAIN REGULAR DOCTOR’S VISITS. It’s important to keep your health in check and have your doctor ensure your body is in tip-top shape.
10 GIVE YOURSELF SOMETHING SMALL TO LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY DAY. Some days can seem really difficult. Try to identify one thing that brings you joy and set aside time for it once a day.
Parents of Special Needs
Raising a child with special needs usually means busy schedules, visits with doctors, and a lot of researching and learning. It’s easy to lose yourself in your child’s needs and experience, which is why it’s so important to practice self-care. Here are some great tips on practicing self-care:
1 FIND A SUPPORT GROUP, IN-PERSON OR ONLINE. It’s important to build relationships with other families who experience similar struggles as you. These groups can be a great resource and support when you need it.
2 ASK YOUR DOCTORS FOR RESOURCES, TOOLS, AND SUGGESTIONS. They should be able to guide you and your family to proper tools that fit your situation.
3 SPEND A LITTLE MONEY ON YOURSELF. As a parent, you spend so much on supporting your child; it’s ok to treat yourself - you’ve earned it.
4 TRY NOT TO COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER PARENTS AND FAMILIES. Learn what is typical for your child, and work closely with your medical professionals to draw realistic expectations and goals.
5 CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF. You can’t pour from your cup if your cup is empty. Check in with yourself and make time for yourself. It’s ok, and in fact, it’s essential.
6 CHECK IN WITH YOUR SPOUSE. Be open and honest with each other. It’s important to express any feelings and support one another.
7 FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH GROUNDING TECHNIQUES. Parenting in general is stressful, and that stress can be multiplied when you have a child with special needs. Learning grounding techniques allows you to calm yourself and feel in control when things feel chaotic.
8 ACCEPTING THE LIMITS OF WHAT YOU CAN DO. Caring for a child with special needs is a lot of rewarding work, but there are limitations to what you can do to change their experience in the world. Take stock of all that you can and give yourself a break on the things you can't.
9 GET ENOUGH SLEEP EVERY NIGHT. There are countless studies hailing the importance of sleep for both emotional and bodily health. Make it a top priority to get adequate rest so you’re ready to show up in the ways your child needs you.
10 SPEND ALONE TIME AWAY FROM CHILDREN. It might sound counterintuitive, especially with a child who has special needs, but taking time to connect with friends or your own hobbies or interests actually allows you to be more available for your child when you are with them.
Foster and Adoptive Parents
Fostering and adopting children is a uniquely rewarding experience that requires an added layer of dedication, patience, and sensitivity. As you navigate pre-existing traumas, regular interactions with caseworkers, and child-protective services, it’s important to practice self-care to be at your best for yourself and your family.
1 BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE CHILD’S HISTORY. This allows you to create an environment that feels safe for the child.
2 HAVE COMPASSION FOR THE CHILD’S BIRTH PARENTS. It’s important to avoid negative talk around the child. Keeping the conversation positive will allow for a happier home.
3 REMEMBER EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. Have patience and let the child lead. Avoid pressuring the child to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
4 FIND A SUPPORT GROUP, IN-PERSON OR ONLINE, FOR BOTH YOURSELF AND THE CHILD. This will help you both feel understood and provide a safe place to discuss what you’re feeling.
5 UTILIZE YOUR CASEWORKER’S KNOWLEDGE FOR RESOURCES, TOOLS, AND SUGGESTIONS. Chances are, they have knowledge specific to your local area. They are a great tool to rely on, and they likely have plenty of experience with most situations.
6 BECOME TRAUMA-INFORMED. Having the tools to handle all situations will allow you to keep calm and be prepared for any situation that may arise.
7 TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE. It’s important to continue to prioritize yourself and your spouse to maintain a healthy relationship.
8 HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM. If/when your foster child’s time is complete in your home, it’s important to have a support team to turn to. You may experience feelings unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, and that’s ok. Ensure you have a solid support team to lean on.
9 ALLOW YOURSELF TO TAKE TIME TO GRIEVE AND REFRESH YOUR MENTAL STATE. It’s ok to allow time before bringing in another foster child after one has left your home. It’s also ok if you feel your time as a foster parent is complete.
10 FIND A TRUSTED THERAPIST. This will give you a solid resource for difficult times or transition periods.
The arrival of a child is so exciting. While you’re busy preparing your home for the new arrival, be sure you continue to prioritize your own needs. Here are some helpful tips to prepare yourself for the life-changing adventure that awaits:
1 PRIORITIZE YOUR NUTRITIONAL NEEDS. It’s especially important to nourish your body while you are busy growing a human. Keep your body well fed so you can maintain energy and proper health.
2 JOIN A PARENTS-TO-BE GROUP. After all, it takes a village. It’s great to get a head start with fellow parents-to-be before baby is born.
3 TAKE A TRIP, A “BABYMOON”, BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF BABY. Life drastically changes once baby has made their appearance, so this gives you a great time to relax and enjoy yourself or your relationship with your partner before baby’s arrival.
4 STOCK YOUR FREEZER WITH PRE-MADE, EASY TO WARM MEALS. You’ll be spending your time caring for and loving on your new baby, and you likely won’t be jumping to shop, chop, and cook your next meal.
5 ORGANIZE AND DECLUTTER YOUR HOUSE - you’ll be thankful later!
6 EQUIP YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE. Take a class on pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting to ease fears.
7 CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. All parents make mistakes, and that’s ok! Perfection doesn’t exist.
8 NURTURE YOURSELF. You’ll receive an amazing amount of unsolicited advice, but remember that you know yourself best. Take the time to focus on what you need each and every day.
9 PLAN FOR WHAT YOU CAN. While birthing and raising a baby is hard to make a plan for, make a plan for what you can control. Plan for things such as who will help with grocery shopping, meal prep, laundry, or house cleaning after baby is born.
10 CREATE A BIRTH “GOAL”. Birth plans can lead to disappointment, so create your goals for labor/birth and make your wishes known, but remain flexible.
Your world has suddenly shifted, and all the attention seems to be on the newest family member. If you’ve just given birth, your hormones are going through a whirlwind. It’s imperative to give yourself attention and self-care. Here are our favorite tips for those early days:
1 ASK FOR HELP. Even if it’s just so you can catch some zzzz’s or run to the grocery store, it’s crucial to reach out - and accept - help as a new parent.
2 SLEEP WHEN BABY SLEEPS. Your sleep schedule is almost certainly thrown off with the arrival of a new baby. Salvage some sleep by resting while baby sleeps.
3 SET BOUNDARIES. There’s a lot to juggle and adjust to with the arrival of a new baby. If you don’t want visitors, it’s ok to say no.
4 TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Meditate, take a nap, a shower, drink some tea, or listen to music.
5 BE TRUE WITH YOUR TIME. “Really quick” doesn’t cover it when you’re hoping to relax in a 30 minute bath, so use realistic expectations so your partner can be understanding.
6 GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. A simple walk around the block can be a great way to refresh your mind and feel accomplished.
7 TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. Eat, drink water, sleep, exercise, and relax.
8 UTILIZE SIRI, GOOGLE, OR ALEXA to easily make to-do lists and set reminders for later.
9 SOCIALIZE WITH OTHER ADULTS. It’s important that you maintain other human contact outside of your precious new baby to avoid feeling isolated, consumed, or overwhelmed by all the new responsibilities that go with caring for a new little.
10 FIND A TRUSTED PERSON to discuss any struggles or postpartum depression concerns. Expressing difficult emotions and feelings with other new parents isn’t something to be ashamed of. Your feelings are more common than you think, and sharing them with a safe person can be very healing.
Parents of Young Children
They say it gets easier as the children grow, but rather, we find the challenges change with each stage. Here are some great tips for handling those days with young children, and how you can incorporate self-care into your relationship with your child:
1 SPEND TIME IN NATURE. It’s great for both parents and kids. It’s a little known trick that kids (even babies) tend to snap out of any grumpy mood by taking a break and heading outdoors - even if it’s just the backyard.
2 PAUSE ELECTRONICS AND ENJOY THE MOMENT, be it singing, dancing, or reading together. You hear it all the time, but it’s true - they’re only little once. The days may be long, but the years are short, so try and enjoy the moments whenever possible.
3 GET SILLY TOGETHER, don’t let your imagination be lost! It’s a stress reliever and your kids will enjoy some fun, goofy time with you.
4 FIND PLAY-GROUPS OR ACTIVITIES WITH OTHER LITTLES. Chances are, you’ll both find a friend to bond with. You can enjoy conversing with a fellow adult while your little one plays with a new friend.
5 REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE BOTH LEARNING, and try to not sweat the small stuff. The world is a big, new place for your child. Their job is to explore and learn, usually through trial and error. Sometimes the explorations lead to oopsies, such as a spilled drink. Use it as a learning experience and get your child involved with positive reinforcement and problem solving skills.
6 TAKE A NAP TOGETHER. Littles need their sleep, and cuddling releases oxytocin, also known as the feel-good hormone. Climb onto the couch and cuddle until you both drift off to sleep.
7 ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO LEAD THE DAY (SAFELY). Sometimes it’s easier to follow their lead to avoid a power struggle and give yourself a break. It helps them feel in control and you can sit back and have a break.
8 DON’T COMPARE your child to other children, or yourself to other parents.
9 THE CHALLENGES ARE TEMPORARY. Remember that your little one is learning about their world and independence.
10 GET MOVING. Exercise is a great stress relief, and it’ll raise your endorphins.
Parents of Teenagers
Helping adolescents grow through tumultuous emotions can be overwhelming as they reach for independence during their teenage years. It's essential to take stock of your needs, boundaries, and autonomy as an example to them and allow yourself space to meet them from a grounded place of love and attention.
1 CELEBRATE THE MISTAKES THAT ARE PART OF SUCCESS. Nobody caring for teens in the history of caregiving has ever done everything right. Growth is a process that requires hiccups. Embrace your missteps that lead to healthier responses, communication, and behaviors.
2 INSTEAD OF PERFECTION, MAKE BALANCE YOUR GOAL. Instead of striving for perfection (it’s unattainable anyway), aim for balance within all aspects of life.
3 REKINDLE OLD HOBBIES, OR FIND NEW ONES. Once your children reach their teenage years, you may find yourself with more time on your hands. This is a great time to focus on yourself and find activities that spark joy within your life.
4 HAVE YOUR OWN LIFE. Find interests and enjoyments that don’t involve your role as a parent. This helps to encourage your teen’s independence, and eases you into the new role before your nest empties.
5 NURTURE THE OTHER IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE. It’s easy to become laser-focused on your teen’s experience. Try to intentionally set aside time to nurture other children, partners, or connections.
6 DON’T TAKE THE EYEROLL PERSONALLY. It’s a natural part of the process as adolescents move from cute attached children to detached teens.
7 LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES (safely) and learn natural consequences. In order to become productive adults, they will need to learn how to manage their time. This allows them to have a sense of control so you can step back with the space to step in if the circumstances call for it.
8 SET BOUNDARIES. One facet of self-care is creating compassionate boundaries for what you are and aren’t willing to let fly while maintaining steadied support for your teen and yourself.
9 FIND REASONS TO LAUGH. Teens often seek out ways to rebel as they reach for their independence. This can be a frustrating time. Watch comedy, joke around, and let the silly stuff roll.
10 MAKE SPACE FOR YOUR EMOTIONS. Peer pressure, puberty, and individuation can bring about difficult feelings for your teen, but those expressions don’t suddenly erase your need to process difficult emotions. Carve out time to share or express your feelings in the ways that feel healing for you so you can show up steadied for your teen.
Dealing with Grief: Loss of a Child
Often referred to as the ultimate tragedy, no parent should ever have to experience the unimaginable psychological and biological trauma that comes with the loss of a child. Considered one of the worst single stressors a person can experience, it’s paramount that you reach for support and self-care to create space for your grief to flow as you continue to mourn and process the enormity of your loss.
1 LOVE IS EVERLASTING. Speak as freely and openly about your child as often and for as long as you need to.
2 UNDERSTAND THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO GRIEVE. Grief presents in many different ways and can sometimes involve extreme, unpredictable emotions and behaviors.
3 BE PATIENT. There is no timetable for grief.
4 ALL LOSS MATTERS. And everyone copes differently. An early loss of a child is still a loss and should be treated as such.
5 ACCEPT YOUR NEED TO EXPRESS YOUR GRIEF. See a therapist, grief counselor or join a bereavement group to help you process your feelings.
6 READJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR YOURSELF. The loss of a child will bring upon intense feelings and affect your capacity to perform as you did before. Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time to let the grief flow for as long as you need.
7 YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Find a grief “buddy” who is also mourning the loss of a child and can relate to your experience and common feelings of isolation and guilt.
8 TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU NEED. Don’t be afraid to ask for friends or family for help with the basics. Grief can be debilitating. There is no shame in allowing others to lend a hand with essential tasks such as cooking, laundry, shopping, or running errands.
9 CREATE A MOURNING SPACE where you can go to honor your grief.
10 GRIEF AND JOY CAN COEXIST. It’s normal to feel guilty while mourning the loss of a child, but grief comes in many shades and moments. You are allowed to feel immense pain and experience moments of joy as you process unfathomable loss.
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.
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. 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 DON’T 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 them 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. It’s great to help others, but don’t forget to practice caring for yourself, too. 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. Practicing mindfulness, learning stress management techniques, and finding time to rest are good places to start engaging in self-care.
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 KINDLY. 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.