The below is a guest blog by Kathryn, a QFCC Youth Champion

We know it is important that we take care of each other, but it is also important that we remember to take care of ourselves. There are a variety of activities and routines you can practise to care for your own mental and physical health. Remembering to practise self-care can improve your resilience and reduce stress, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when stress levels in young people are higher than usual.

Steps you can take

Below, we have created a list of some habits that can help you boost your emotional wellbeing and feel more balanced, even when things might feel uncertain.

1. Try to engage in physical activity every day

Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, moving your body is good for your mind. You might enjoy team sports, such as netball or soccer, or perhaps you enjoy non-competitive activities such as yoga or hiking. You could try going for a short walk during the day, or going for a swim (if it isn't too cold!).  Meditation is also a useful tool for reducing stress, and there are plenty of videos online to help you get started.

2. Fuel your body and mind with nutrients and vitamins that will keep you energised

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and remember to drink water throughout the day. Carrying a reusable water bottle around with you can help remind you to take regular drinks. 

3. Practise good sleep hygiene

If you practise good sleep habits, you can feel more energised and alert during the day. You can improve your sleep hygiene by setting a bedtime, putting your technology away before bed (the blue light from screens can decrease the quality of your sleep) and allowing 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Sleeping might feel like you're switching off for the night, but your brain is working hard whilst you sleep, processing information, storing memories and preparing for the day ahead!

4. Find a hobby you enjoy

Hobbies can help us de-stress and detach from the stresses we face in our daily lives. There are plenty of hobbies you can enjoy alone, such as reading, arts and crafts, music, cooking and keeping a journal.  You can also enjoy hobbies with other people, like learning a new language or going to a dance class.  

5. Take technology breaks

Your phone is a great tool. It is way to connect with your friends and family, stream your favourite tv shows and movies, follow the news, and keep up to date with what is important to you. However, constantly using your phone or scrolling on social media can increase stress and decrease the quality of your sleep. Try to plug your technology in and leave it alone for an hour before bedtime. 

6. Stay connected

At the moment, you might find staying connected a little trickier than usual, but there are plenty of ways you can keep in contact with the people you care about. Email and social media can help you to stay in regular contact, and with video calling programs, we can now see who we are speaking with, even if they are far away.  You can also stay connected through hobbies you enjoy, such as joining a book club or sharing music playlists with your favourite songs.

7. Speak to people who support you

If you are feeling anxious, sad or stressed, it is important to speak to someone you can trust.  This may be a friend, family member, teacher or a health professional; such as a doctor, counsellor, social worker,  psychologist or psychiatrist.  If you need urgent support, or want to speak to someone now, the resources below are here to help you. 

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or https://kidshelpline.com.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14  or https://www.lifeline.org.au

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732 or https://www.1800respect.org.au

QLife Australia: 1800 184 527 or https://qlife.org.au

YouthBeyondBlue: https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/ 

ReachOut: https://au.reachout.com/