It can be hard to adjust to a life in lockdown, but there are some things you can do to make it easier:
- Maintain a routine: write out a plan for your week; what do you want to achieve?
- Get up at the same time each day; this helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and gives us more energy.
- Take daily exercise; this could be as simple as a walk or run, or perhaps you have a favourite sport that you like to play?
- Eat healthily: a balanced diet can help improve our mood and make us feel more positive.
- Continue with your hobbies: social-distancing may make this tricky, but for example if you like baking, continue with it and try out some new recipes.
- Be sociable: set up a video call with family and friends, or go for a socially-distanced walk or picnic together.
- Schedule in some down-time: this could be watching a favourite TV show, reading a book or doing some gentle exercise like yoga.
- Try meditation: it may feel silly at first but even just five minutes per day can help boost your mental health. Try the Headspace or Calm apps. There are also thousands of free guided meditation videos on YouTube.
- Talk about your worries: don’t bottle up your feelings. Talk them out with a trusted adult and ask for help if you need it.
It’s more important than ever to protect your mental health. It’s okay if you are struggling – you are not alone and there is help out there. If you don’t have a trusted adult you can speak to, or you don’t feel comfortable having that conversation yet, you can have a look at these websites for advice:
- Be vigilant: be aware of your surroundings, avoid talking on the phone or using headphones while walking as this can distract you from what is going on around you.
- Avoid shortcuts and dark, isolated areas – stick to busy areas where you can ask someone for help if needed.
- When you go out, make sure you tell someone where you are going, who you are meeting and when they can expect you to return.
- Carry your wallet/purse, electronic devices and any other valuables out of sight.
- If you feel unsafe or suspect you are being followed, cross the road and head to a safe public place.
- If someone unknown approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to walk or run away, or make a noise to attract attention. If possible, go into somewhere busy like a supermarket or a cafe and ask the staff to help you. If you feel in danger, don’t hesitate to call police on 999.
- Never use your full name as your username on social media – make up a nickname, as this will protect your identity.
- Make sure your passwords are strong and unique – but never share them with anyone apart from your parents.
- Be mindful of your privacy settings – on Snapchat for example, unless you have ‘ghost mode’ switched on people can look on a map and see your exact location, which can make you vulnerable.
- If someone sends you a message, photograph or video that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t reply and instead screenshot it before telling an adult you trust.
- Think about the ‘Grandma rule’ – if you wouldn’t feel comfortable sending that message, photograph or video to your grandmother, don’t send it at all.
Grooming and peer pressure
- It’s great to make new friends but it’s important to remember that not everyone is who they say they are.
- If someone you don’t know starts striking up a conversation with you, be vigilant. If they start asking personal questions about where you live and where you go to school, don’t tell them and walk away instead. This is sometimes called ‘grooming’.
- They may offer to buy you food, drink, clothes, shoes or even a new phone. If you accept these ‘gifts’ then you will be in that person’s debt, and they may ask you to do things you are uncomfortable with.
- People who are involved in violent gang, drug and knife crime try and befriend young people before forcing them into transporting drugs between different counties (also known as ‘county lines’), as well as hiding or storing weapons, drugs and money. This can involve threats and violence.
- Recognise the signs of grooming and try to avoid getting into a situation where people tell you that you owe them something. If you have got yourself into a situation that you feel like you cannot get out of, please don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. The police are here to protect you.
- If you have information about someone who you think is involved in crime, you can report information anonymously via the Fearless website. No one will ever trace the information back to you.
- If you need help you can reach out to The St Gile’s Trust, a charity which helps young people at the risk of criminal exploitation.