Our Mental Health Ambassador Coordinator Rachel reflects on what youth workers can do to build their resilience.

Earlier this month we celebrated Youth Mental Health Day (7th of September) with the theme of resilience and how to #BounceNotBreak. There have been so many fantastic social media posts, articles, and blogs around this aimed directly at young people. The theme of change and resilience keeps on popping up at the moment, and it got me thinking how do we as professionals find time to support young people to #BounceNotBreak whilst looking after our own wellbeing and mental health?

Sometimes we keep our professional hats on way past office hours and forget we are humans too, and, as humans I feel that change is something that produces a lot of anxiety within us. Our personal and professional world is constantly changing and shifting and so we kind of have to go with that. You may have been trying to juggle family life whilst working at home, the anxiety over job security, no longer sharing office space, supporting vulnerable families and young people, the worry for your own family and the confusion around adjusting to a new social etiquette. There’s been a lot to juggle!

2020 has been a time of serial change and the future is so uncertain; it got me thinking, how do we build resilience to the rollercoaster we call life? We also need it to happen quickly because when we are ‘adult-ing’ we don’t have time to hang around, there’s a lot going on. I spent a while googling ‘how do I find enlightenment ASAP’ and ‘how can I float through life like a monk?’ Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a quick fix on Google. In fact it takes years and years of training to be able to float through the adversities of life, but we can start making small steps in the right direction today. Society isn’t set up to make the health of our minds a priority as life is jam-packed with other priorities.

While I was researching online I ended up down the path of mindfulness and how this is a free simple tool that can be used to help ground ourselves. I know that this term is a bit of a buzzword on the youth work scene, but my question is, are we as professionals adopting this into our work routines and making it a priority?

I know I’m preaching to the choir but I want to say it anyway. Mindfulness techniques have been scientifically proven to improve the health of our minds and even change the biology of our brains*. Maybe this is something that we can do to help us navigate life and it’s something we are able to fit into modern day lives.

As professionals we must be pro-active about integrating mindfulness into our working days. Here are some examples of mindfulness activities:

  • 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation (watch an example by Daily Calm on YouTube)
  • Go for a walk outside and really notice what you can see, hear, smell or feel
  • Make yourself your favourite drink and snack, sit there, and make this the only thing you do

My challenge to you is to plan in 10 minutes 2/3 times a week to practice mindfulness in your working day.

1. Put 10 minutes of mindfulness in your calendar. Block it out, put that intention out there.

2. Plan your mindfulness 10 minutes week by week. Organisation is key! Not on the day. That way you have something to look forward to.

3. Make sure it’s something you look forward to. The aim is to feel good at the end of these 10 minutes.

We must look after ourselves so that we can best support the young people we work with. If we learn how to #BounceNotBreak then we will be able to support our young people through a very difficult time and hopefully we will be able to #BounceNotBreak together.

* This information is taken from the Harvard Gazette.