Your wellbeing questions answered by Christine Morrison, Clinical Expert at Shout 85258.
I’m really struggling with how to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts while living alone. How can I cope?
It takes a strong person to reach out and share about the challenging experience they are going through. You are clearly very resilient to be facing the stress in your life with so much insight and motivation to manage it. With all this on your plate you deserve support. You don't have to cope with this alone and there is support there for you 24/7.
Please know you can text Shout on the number: 85258, anytime 24/7, free of charge for support. Once you text in a volunteer can listen to more about what you're going through and collaborate with you to come up with some next steps to manage. If the thoughts ever get to the point you think you might act on suicide you can also always call emergency services on 999 for immediate assistance.
Even though you may be living alone right now, there is always connection and support available 24/7. When struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts it can be really helpful to have a safety plan in place of ways to cope. As you think through a safety plan you want to think about places you can go, people you can contact, professional services you can use, and coping strategies/ distractions you can rely on during difficult times.
It can be really helpful to use an app like Stay Alive which can help you come up with a safety plan that you can use anytime. You can tailor your plan to help you find techniques that can be used even when living alone.
Remember that no matter what you don’t have to face this by yourself. By reaching out and sharing this question you’ve already shown you have the strength to get through this difficult time. Services like Shout 85258 are always there for you. If you prefer talking on the phone to texting you can also always call Samaritans from any phone on 116 123.
How much does keeping active really help my mental wellbeing?
When it comes to our mental wellbeing everyone is different. Some people find that talking on the phone with a friend energises and puts them in a great mood while others might feel drained. We all are different when it comes to what we need to do to support our own mental wellbeing.
To understand what you need, spend some time taking an inventory throughout your day. Take notice of how you feel after various habits. Does listening to an upbeat playlist in the morning brighten your mood or do you prefer a few minutes of quiet to focus on your breathing? Is social media making you feel more connected or adding pressure? Bring awareness to things that may be sucking the life out of your day.
Ask yourself what small tweaks you could make to better serve your mental wellbeing. Regarding physical activity and exercise, there are many proven benefits for your wellbeing. Physical activity improves sleep, raises endorphin levels (the feelgood chemicals in your brain), and decreases stress.
Are there any coping mechanisms you suggest for financial stress?
Financial stress can impact people in many different ways so it can be helpful to narrow in on how this is impacting you. Is the stress leading to anxious feelings, low mood, social isolation, or something else?
Take a moment to check in about how you’re experiencing the effects of financial stress. Once you’ve got a grasp of how the stress is impacting you, you can work to manage the strong emotion you’re experiencing. You’ll be in a better position to make decisions about your finances if you’ve taken the time to cope with the overwhelming emotion.
Remember you can always talk through your stress with a Shout 85258 volunteer anytime, 24/7.
I’m just generally interested in young people’s mental wellbeing. Where’s a good place for research and to learn more?
It’s great that you’re interested in learning more. Informing yourself about wellbeing equips you to support yourself and those around you which is an invaluable skill. One great place to start is your university library, many of which are digital. That way you are learning through reputable sources and know you’re getting reliable information. The NHS also has many great resources including:
Mental Health Self Help Guides
Web-based self-help guides for a range of issues including depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders and other mental health areas.
NHS App Library
A comprehensive list of apps available on smartphones for a variety of issues including health management, anxiety, depression, peer support, self-harm and long term health conditions.
I’m struggling to sleep and don’t know why, could this be stress or loneliness related?
Many people report challenges with sleep. Sleep struggles can happen for a wide variety of reasons. It can be distressing to worry you aren’t getting enough, or the right amount of, sleep but there are loads of resources available to support with this – you don’t have to struggle with this forever.
The NHS suggests 10 tips you can use which are helpful when facing sleep challenges.
In particular when it comes to stress and loneliness it can be tempting to lie awake in bed, particularly before a stressful or busy day, worrying. As you’ve probably noticed, this worry then makes it even harder for us to get to sleep. Relaxation techniques can help you to relax and unwind at these times.
Consider breathing and grounding techniques as well as a body scan. Start with your toes and consciously relax each muscle in your body working your way up to your face. Alternatively, instead of staying in bed and getting more and more annoyed, try getting out of bed and preparing yourself a warm drink, such as warm milk, and head back to bed when you feel more tired.
If you are struggling with sleep you can also always text a Shout 85258 volunteer who can walk you through some calming exercises and connect you with more resources.