conflict

Living with Someone Experiencing Depression

 
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Are you living with someone that’s depressed?

Let’s take a closer look at how to take care of yourself while trying to be understanding of their situation

 

Living with someone who is experiencing depression is not easy. When they are struggling, it can often be hard to know what to do or say, and it’s not uncommon to feel angry, guilty or overwhelmed from time to time.

Learn about depression

By having an idea of how someone is affected by depression, you might be able to better recognize why they behave the way they do. Understanding more about depression might also help you separate the illness from your family member, partner or friend, and realize that their mood and behavior might not be directed at you personally.

Everyone is affected by their depression a little bit differently. Sometimes it can be physically draining to move much, so the house might not get picked up as often as it normally would. Perhaps being around people is exhausting, so they might need more time alone than usual.

Try not to blame them or shame them for what they’re experiencing, as it’s not something they can control. Just try to be as compassionate as you can for their experience, while also taking care of yourself.

Put yourself first occasionally

As a family member or friend of someone who’s going through depression, it’s important that you look after yourself. This can be hard and you might find that you feel guilty when you do something for yourself, but taking time out for yourself is an important part of taking care of yourself and your loved one.

Having time away from your friend or family member can be important and allow you to relax. Try to spend some time doing what you enjoy. You might want to play a sport, hang out with friends, listen to music or go for a walk. Our Developing Coping Strategies can give you some ideas on what self-care might be best for you.

It may also be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, since you likely won’t be able to express those properly with the person who is depressed. Remember that your mental health is also important, and you’re allowed to set boundaries for yourself.

Talk about what your loved one finds helpful

Make conversations about depression easy and open. Try asking what helps them get through their depression. By talking openly, you are letting the person know that you love and support them. You may like to talk about what you have read about depression, and ask how they feel about it.

Find a support group

If you are living or caring for someone who is experiencing depression, you may sometimes feel you are alone. Friends may not understand what you’re dealing with. Talking to people who are in a similar situation may be helpful. The National Alliance on Mental Illness might be a good place to find some support. You can also call Lines for Life’s YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491 or their Suicide LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255 for more information on how to talk to your loved one about depression or if you suspect they’re feeling suicidal.

Talk to someone

It might be helpful to talk to someone you trust, like another friend or family member, about how you’re feeling regarding your loved one’s depression. If you feel like you are having trouble doing day to day activities or the stress of caretaking for this depressed person is too much, you could also consider seeing a counselor or therapist.

 

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

Interpersonal Violence

 
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Interpersonal Violence

A closer look at what it is, how that can look, and how to get help

 

What is interpersonal violence?

Interpersonal violence occurs when one person uses power and control over another through physical, sexual, or emotional threats or actions, economic control, isolation, or other kinds of coercive behavior. Some different types of interpersonal violence include:

  • Abuse is any behavior toward another person that is physically violent or involves emotional coercion, or both and one person is in a position of authority.

  • Bullying which is a type of harassment that can be verbal, physical, or online. It can also take the form of coercion where someone is threatened by another person and as a result of those threats, the person being bullied feels intimidated and pressured into acting a certain way or doing a certain thing. This is called peer pressure. Bullying can occur in all settings—school, work, home, neighborhood and the internet.

  • Intimate Partner Violence occurs when one intimate or romantic partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through words and actions that are physically and emotionally abusive. Dating violence can take many forms including physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, and emotional, sexual or economic abuse. It occurs in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships and can be instigated by either males or females. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced some form of severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.

  • Sexual Violence is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. It can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. This can happen between strangers, acquaintances, coworkers, classmates, “friends”, intimate partners and family. It includes:

    • Inappropriate touching

    • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration

    • Sexual intercourse that a person says no to

    • Rape or attempted rape

    • Sexual harassment or threats

    • Peeping or Voyeurism (watching private sexual acts)

    • Exhibitionism (exposing themselves in public)

  • Youth Violence refers to aggressive behaviors, including slapping, hitting, kicking, bullying, punching, fist fighting and knife fighting, as well as robbery, rape and homicide.

  • Gang Violence refers to acts of aggression and violence and criminal activity committed by a group of peers where the group usually has an identity (e.g. a name; a sign; a neighborhood). In some neighborhoods, the pressure to join a gang occurs early and can be very difficult to resist. Members often join to feel a sense of family and community, and to achieve power and respect. On the flipside, members may worry about their own safety and fears of being abused by others in the gang. Gang members include all genders.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, call a friend or family member you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a trained volunteer. One hotline is the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-4673.

Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Women’s Health Information website provides additional information about what to do if you have been sexually assaulted.

What triggers violence?

There are a number of reasons why a person might become violent. Some of those reasons might be:

  • Anger

  • Frustration

  • Sadness

  • Trying to control another person

  • Having a short temper

A person’s belief system might also influence how the person behaves. Someone who acts aggressively or violently may believe that violence is an acceptable way to deal with anger or an acceptable way to get something that the person wants. The person may also have grown up in a family where violence was part of how family members interacted with each other.

Some ways to stop being violent

Violence is NOT okay and nobody should have to put up with it. Being angry, confused or frustrated are all normal emotions, and there are non-violent ways of expressing these emotions. If you’re having trouble managing your anger, you might want to check out the Anger & Violence and Anger Management articles.

Deciding to do something about your violent behavior is a big step and it takes a lot of courage.

Look at what makes you violent. To stop this behavior, it might be useful to make a list of the things that trigger your violent behavior. This could be a person, a situation, a mood, or drugs and alcohol. By knowing what triggers your violent behavior, you can start to avoid these things or try to work out ways to deal with the situation.

Who is affected by your violent behavior? Does it hurt anyone physically or emotionally? Do you want to have safe and secure relationships, or do you want people to be afraid of you? These questions might help you see how your violent behavior can negatively affect you and the people around you.

Talk to someone. Putting an end to violent behavior is not always easy, and having someone to support you can be helpful. You don’t have to do it by yourself. Going to counseling or visiting another mental health professional might be able to help you find ways to deal with your violent behavior.

Drugs, alcohol and violence

Using drugs and alcohol increases the likelihood that a person might act in a violent way. If you’re finding that you become violent while drinking or taking drugs, you might want to look at ways to better manage your drug and alcohol intake. A counselor or other mental health professional who specializes in addictions counseling can help you do this.

 

Information for this article was provided by:

 

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Anger Management

 
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Time to get your anger under control?

A closer look at managing your anger

 

Everyone gets angry at one time or another. Anger is a normal human emotion. It’s how a person acts when feeling angry that can be problematic. When anger builds in intensity or gets out of control, people can behave in ways that are destructive. In fact, anger can become so intense that the feeling itself may be better described as rage. When anger gets out of control, it can lead to problems in personal relationships, particularly if anger leads to emotionally or physically abusive behavior or other acts of violence.

The good news is that people can learn to manage their anger. In some cases this means learning to express anger in healthy ways, learning to keep yourself calm and controlling your reactions when faced with something that triggers your anger and avoiding people or situations that make you angry or enraged, or leaving a situation if you feel yourself becoming angry or losing control.

Expressing anger in healthy ways

Communicating assertively—not aggressively—is a good way to express anger in a healthy way, while maintaining effective communication. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means expressing your feelings and needs in a way that is respectful of yourself and others. Generally this works best if used before your anger gets out of control.

For example, let’s suppose you are in a cafeteria line just about to get your tray when someone steps in ahead of you. An aggressive response might be, “Hey, buddy, who do you think you are? Go to the back of the line.” An assertive response might be, “Sorry, but I think I’m next. The line forms over here.”

Keeping calm

A physiological response also happens when a person gets angry. Heart rate increases and muscles become tense. These physiological responses can actually be cues that signal the person that they are becoming angry. Recognizing those cues and learning how to calm internal responses when faced with a person or situation that arouses anger can help angry feelings subside.

Different relaxation strategies might also be helpful:

  • Breathing deeply

  • Repeatedly telling yourself to remain calm or take it easy

  • Counting from 10 backwards

  • Imagining or visualizing an image that helps you relax or feel calm.

These responses can also be used before coming face to face with the person or situation—almost as a way to anticipate or prepare for what is stressful.

Remembering to slow down and stopping to think before reacting can also help you keep your cool. Reacting impulsively to what someone else says or does can fuel anger. By slowing down and stopping to think, you are better able to listen and really hear what the other person is trying to communicate. By stopping to think you can also give yourself time to think of other ways of solving the problem you might be facing.

Controlling your reactions

At times the things we say to ourselves or think when faced with a situation or person who makes us angry, can actually fuel your anger. The scientific term for changing your thinking is “cognitive restructuring” and it’s a technique rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy. Changing the way you think means switching up the irrational kinds of messages you give yourself to those that are more logical. For example, switching your thought patterns from “this is how things HAVE be” to “I’d ‘prefer’ this, but I can survive if it’s not…”.

Avoiding or leaving a stressful situation

In some cases, a person can identify the situations that often trigger their anger. Staying away from the situation isn’t always an option, but in some instances it could be. For example, if you know that it really pisses you off to see your old girlfriend hanging with her new boyfriend, you might want to avoid going to their favorite place to hang out. It doesn’t mean you will never go where they are, but maybe avoiding them initially while you are getting over the break up might help you keep your cool.

Also, if you feel yourself getting angry, another option is to leave the situation before things escalate. Sometimes people feel that leaving isn’t always easy to do because your reputation or need for respect is on the line. Cognitive restructuring might be useful as a way of challenging these thoughts.

It’s important that you give yourself the space you need to become level headed. If you don’t, you may end up saying or doing things you later regret. Tell the other people or person that you need to take a walk, and when everyone is able to talk calmly again, you’ll continue the conversation. It’s okay to have boundaries like this.

How might counseling help?

All of the above mentioned anger management techniques, and others, are skills that a counselor or other mental health professional can help you develop. If you feel that your anger is out of control and it’s affecting your relationships and other important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to better manage your anger. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in helping people manage anger and aggressive and violent behaviors.

Information for this article was provided by:

 

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

 
 

Intimate Partner Violence

 
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Intimate Partner Violence and Domestic Violence

A closer look at how to recognize intimate partner violence and what to do if you’re in an abusive relationship

 

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse that takes place between two people who have a romantic relationship—spouses, partners, boyfriends and girlfriends. Many people also use the word “domestic violence.” IPV can occur in many forms and can affect people of any age. If someone is hurting you, it can be frightening, and you might not know how to make the abuse stop—especially if you live with the person who is abusing you. It’s important to remember that no one has the right to be violent toward you and there are people who can help you.

IPV can take on many forms, including:

Physical/Sexual. Forms of physical violence include pushing, shaking, punching, slapping, forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, throwing things at you, using weapons, damaging your property, or hurting or killing your pets. If someone is being physically violent to you, seek safety as soon as possible. Leave the situation as quickly and safely as possible, and call 911 or your local police.

Emotional/Verbal. This form of violence is often unrecognized as IPV, but it can be just as hurtful and damaging as physical violence. If someone is making threats, texting or speaking to you in a way that is frightening, putting you down, or using blackmail against you, he or she is being emotionally violent. Emotional violence also includes insulting you or teasing you in front of other people, keeping you isolated from family and friends, preventing you from having your own opinions and controlling what you do and where you go.

Economic. Having money—and making decisions about how to use it—is one form of independence. If someone is controlling your money, keeping you financially dependent, or forcing you to ask for money unreasonably, this is another form of IPV.

According to the CDC, 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.”

You might assume that IPV only happens between adults or in relationships where two people are living together. But this isn’t the case. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are more likely to report violence in their romantic relationships than any other age group. According to a recent national survey, 8% of high school students reported physical violence and 7% reported that they had experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner within the last year.

How can I keep myself safe?

At times you might underestimate the amount of danger you’re in, either because you might not realize it or don’t want to accept how dangerous a situation is because you think that your partner really loves and cares for you. Your partner might promise to “never do it again”, you might feel like you are to blame for their behavior, or perhaps you think you can change your partner. But you are not responsible for your partner’s action—ever—and there are actions you can take to ensure that he or she does not hurt you anymore.

Steps to ensuring your safety:

  • Call the police. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police.

  • Leave. It can be incredibly hard to end a relationship, especially if you’re sharing a home with the person who’s hurting you. Because the person who is abusing you might be manipulating you or isolating you from your friends and family, you might feel like you can’t leave, or that you have nowhere to go. But there is support for you when you feel like you should leave a place where you feel threatened or unsafe. If you need to leave, make sure to take important items, like your IDs, credit cards, cash and cell phone.

  • Get support. Making a decision to leave an unsafe relationship can be difficult. You don’t have to do it alone. Talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, counselor or social worker. You might also want to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453. Hotline volunteers can direct you to local resources and shelters in your area where you can find additional help and support. Our crisis helpline directory also offer links to other services and resources in your country in Oregon, as well as national helplines.

IPV is just one form of violence. Abuse can come from adults, strangers, or your peers at school. You have the right to feel and be safe. For more information on steps you can take to ensure your safety, check out the following articles:

Information for this article was provided by:

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

Peer Pressure

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Peer Pressure

A closer look at how you might be affected by peer pressure and ways to avoid succumbing to it

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the influence you feel from a person or group of people to do something you might not otherwise consider doing.

It’s not uncommon to want to be part of a group and feel like you belong in a community, especially if you are new or less experienced than the people around you.

Peer pressure often happens because you don’t want to be alone or left out. So you go with what other people think in order for them to include you. A peer can be anyone around the same age as you, like a friend, classmate, or even someone you’ve seen on TV and admire. You might try to live up to people’s expectations, but it’s important to be mindful to not have other people’s expectations cloud what you want.

If you’re dealing with peer pressure, you’re not alone.

How does peer pressure affect us?

Peer pressure isn’t always a negative thing. It can be a positive influence and help challenge or motivate you to do your best. However, it’s helpful to recognize that peer pressure can also be negative. It can result in you doing something that doesn’t fit with your sense of right and wrong.

Peer pressure might influence you in a number of ways, including:

  • Fashion choices

  • Alcohol and drug use

  • Decision to have a romantic partner

  • Choice of who your friends are

  • Academic performance

Where does peer pressure come from?

Peer pressure can be present at school or within a broader community. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Peer pressure can affect you in a number of different ways:

  • Directly. Peer pressure can be as simple and direct as someone telling you what to do. It might be a good idea to talk to someone you trust if you feel threatened, or if you are being hurt or pressured into something you don’t want to do. You could talk to a family member, friend, teacher or counselor.

  • Indirectly. Peer pressure might not always be obvious to you. It’s not uncommon for a group of friends to have particular habits or activities that they do together. But when you’re with a different group of friends, it might be unlikely that you do those same things. For example, you might only smoke when you are with certain friends, or you might be more likely to study when you are with other friends.

  • Individually. Sometimes the pressure comes from you. Feeling different from a group can be hard. Sometimes this happens when people move to a new city or start a new school or job. This often means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment. To avoid feeling out of place, you might do things to make sure you feel like the rest of the group. When people feel unsure about themselves, they might be more likely to feel the effects of peer pressure.

What can you do about peer pressure?

Being an individual means making decisions based on what is best for you. It means taking ownership and responsibility for what you do and how you think. But being an individual also means that you can be a valued part of a comfortable and welcoming group. It might be hard to resist peer pressure and stay an individual. Here are some suggestions that can help you manage peer pressure better.

Value common interests. Hanging out with people who like doing similar stuff may help you avoid a situation where you feel pressured into things you don’t want to do. Remember that being seen hanging out in the “cool crowd” might not be as much fun as it looks if you’re not comfortable with the decisions that crowd is making.

Say no. Having the strength to say no can be hard, but it can also make you feel good to stick with what you believe in. Explain to people in a calm way why you don’t want to be part of something, and you might earn respect from others and gain confidence in yourself.

Try not to judge others. If possible, try not to place judgments on other people’s choices. Respecting someone else’s choice may help them to respect yours. Remember that you don’t have to agree with their actions. Focusing on the reasons why you don’t feel happy with the choice might help you to not judge them.

Take action. Taking action against negative peer pressure can be easier when you’re more comfortable in your environment. Standing up for yourself and others can be a way to gain that comfort. Both of these are ways in which you might be able to create a positive atmosphere within a group.


Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Happiness

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Finding happiness through gratitude

A closer look at how reconciling the past can improve your overall happiness

How forgiveness and gratitude directly impact happiness

Being grateful—or having gratitude—for the past can positively affect your future. Research has shown that people who think about the past in an optimistic way have increased capacity for happiness.

You might experience a variety of feelings when thinking about the past—from pride, satisfaction and contentment to bitterness and anger. These feelings are all controlled by your memories, which you can manage. If you have bad memories, you might be able to change them to neutral or good feelings by challenging your thinking or through forgiveness.

This means that you have ultimate control over your feelings about the past. If you can control your thoughts and feelings, you can influence your happiness. This might not be easy at first. Talking to someone like a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or other mental health professional can be a helpful way to manage difficult experiences so that your feelings about them become neutral.

The past doesn’t dictate your future

Do you believe that your past determines your future? If you do, you’re reducing the amount of control that you have in what happens in your life. If you believe you have no control over your future, you’re also more likely to experience the feeling of “stuckness,”—like no matter what action you take, it won’t make a difference to your life.

Research suggests that childhood events don’t always determine the course of your life. You don’t need to be a prisoner of your past and it doesn’t have to determine your future. You can control your future, your thoughts about the past and present, and the way that you act on these feelings.

Incorporating gratitude into your everyday life

One way to change your feelings, thoughts, actions, and the course of your life is to keep a “gratitude journal”. You might find it useful to keep a daily or weekly diary where you write down everything that you’re grateful for. This can include things that happened to you, things you noticed about your own thoughts or progress, people, where you live, work, school, etc.

Controlled experiments have shown that people who record things they’re grateful for experience an increase in joy, happiness and overall satisfaction with their lives. This is because when you focus on things you’re grateful for, you amplify good memories about the past. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

To get an indication of how grateful you are already, check out the Gratitude Quiz on the Greater Good Magazine website. After completing the quiz, they share your results and some suggestions to foster more gratitude in your life. You might want to re-take this test once you’ve kept your gratitude diary for a couple of weeks, and see whether keeping a diary has had an impact on your level of gratitude. If it has increased, you might want to continue keeping your gratitude journal for the long-term.

Forgiveness

If you have intense and frequent negative thoughts about the past, it’s likely that these thoughts will block any positive emotions like contentment and satisfaction. Sometimes it might seem like there are good reasons for not forgiving and for holding on to bitterness. If you’re having trouble deciding whether to forgive, you might want to evaluate the pros and cons of forgiveness.

Your experience could be a very complex and difficult one. It might be especially difficult to forgive if you’ve been really hurt by someone. Forgiveness can take time, and it’s O.K. if at first it hurts too much to forgive. However, if you reach a point where you’re no longer feeling bitter, forgiveness can give you a much greater chance of moving on and enjoying life. Forgiveness transforms bitterness into a neutral feeling, or even a positive feeling, making you happier.

In addition to having a positive impact on your happiness, if you forgive, you’re more likely to be in better physical health, especially when it comes to your heart.

If you choose to reconcile with a person after you’ve come to terms with a situation, there might be even more benefits. Your relationship with that forgiven person is likely to improve greatly—and better relationships can lead to increased happiness.

To get an indication of how ready you are to forgive someone or something, you might want to take the Forgiveness Quiz on the Greater Good Magazine website.

Challenging negative thoughts

In addition to forgiveness, challenging your negative thoughts about the past can be helpful. By challenging these memories, you might realize that the way you think about the event is not actually “correct” or accurate, and that this faulty thinking is making you feel negatively about something that actually deserves neutral or even positive feelings. For additional information, check out the Challenging Negative Self-Talk and Common Thinking Errors articles.

Other tips that might help

It takes practice to be able to identify and change negative thinking about the past and it might not be easy at first. Forgiveness is not always an easy choice. The following tips might also help you challenge negative thoughts and make decisions to forgive.

Find support. Talking to people you trust and respect about the way you feel can be helpful, particularly if you talk to people who have experienced a situation similar to the one you’re in. Try talking to a family member, friend, teacher or counselor.

If you’d rather talk to someone confidentially, try Lines for Life’s YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491. This hotline is free and staffed by trained volunteers who are available 24/7 to talk to you. They also have texting and online chat options available.

Keep a diary. Not only is a gratitude journal important, but having a place to put all your thoughts out of your mind can be really beneficial. You might be experiencing a whole lot of thoughts and feelings about the past, and it might help you keep track by writing them down. Once you identify negative feelings about the past, challenge them. See if you can re-write history.

Remember that the way you think about the past will influence the way you feel about it, and you can control this! Try out some of the suggestions, and see if you can re-shape the way you think and feel about the past, and increase your happiness.

Information for this article was provided by:

Acknowledgments: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Express Yourself

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Express Yourself

A closer look at some ways you can express yourself

Expressing how you feel to release tension

Expressing yourself can help you keep in touch with how you are feeling. It can also help you release a lot of tension that you might be carrying around. Sometimes, when people lose touch with how they feel, their feelings burst out in situations or ways that are embarrassing or inappropriate.

Everyone needs some time alone to reflect on feelings. Being able to express how you feel might help you make better decisions about what is right for you now.

Ways of expressing yourself

Finding out the best way for you to express yourself can be rewarding. You might find that you enjoy expressing yourself in a particular way, like painting, playing a sport, singing, drumming or even yelling into a pillow. If you don’t know which way works best for you, try some of the following suggestions.

Write about how you feel. Writing can be a useful way to explore your feelings. Some people keep diaries or journals, while others just write down whatever comes into their head at a particular moment. You might want to write a story about what is happening in your life now or make up a story based on some past event in your life. Writing poetry works for some people, too.

Play a sport. Playing sports lets you express yourself in a physical way. There are plenty of opportunities to yell or curse or feel elated when things go well. Team sports allow you to express yourself with others and use your mental and physical energy. If you’re not much for team sports, you can still use physical activity as a way to express yourself. Try challenging yourself with a long bike ride or strenuous hike. Afterwards, you may feel a sense of accomplishment from pushing yourself, leaving you feeling more confident.

Create. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, art is a useful way of expressing yourself. Even if you’re not particularly good at any of these, give it a try. You don’t have to be good at it to enjoy it.

Some forms of art you could try:

  • Painting

  • Drawing or sketching

  • Digital art

  • Sculpting, clay or metal

  • Jewelry making

  • Blacksmithing

  • Wood carving or woodworking

  • Building small projects

  • Welding

  • Cosplay (dressing up as your favorite characters)

  • Crocheting

  • Glass blowing

  • Makeup

  • Photography, film or digital

  • Calligraphy

There are so many ways to be creative and it doesn’t have to be just painting or drawing. Not only is art good for expressing yourself, it can also be used for relaxation.

Sing, play music or shout. Singing along to your favorite songs or playing a musical instrument is another way of expressing yourself. Sing in the shower or in your car. If you play an instrument or sing regularly, you might want to start writing your own songs or music to express how you feel. It may also be fun to sing or play music with your friends.

Dance. Dance is a form of self-expression, but you don’t have to be a ballerina to do it. Put on some music at home or go out and dance as much as you like in whatever way you like. If you find you really enjoy dancing, you can try joining a local dance group or attend a dancing event or class.

Talk to someone. One of the simplest ways of expressing ourselves is through communication. Effective communication is learning how to express your thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way with another person and is an important life skill to have. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with someone you’re close to in your personal life, a school counselor or other mental health professional may be able to help.

Whatever it is you decide to do, it should come naturally and be a source of pleasure for you. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with one of the above techniques, move on to another and see how that feels for you. For more ideas on coping with stress, check out our Developing Coping Strategies article.

 

Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Effective Communication

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Getting the message across

A closer look at different communication styles and how to start effectively communication today

The way you communicate has a big impact on your ability to get along with people and getting the things that you want. Good communication skills can help you avoid conflict and to solve problems. Open and honest communication is also important for making friends and having healthy relationships.

Styles of communication

Communication can be expressed in many ways and with different results.  Communication can be aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive or assertive. Poor communication often creates tension and bad feelings within relationships.

Aggressive communication is expressed in a forceful and hostile manner, and usually involves alienating messages such as “you-statements”. You-statements blame the other person, accuse them of being wrong or at fault, and can also be labeling (like calling them a name).

A person’s tone of voice and facial expressions can also project unfriendliness. Aggressive communication can send the message “your needs don’t matter,” or “I win, and you lose.” By sending this message, you quickly cut off lines for open communication. When someone speaks to you this way, how does it make you feel? Do you think this is a productive way at reaching your goals?

Passive communication involves putting your needs last. When you communicate passively, you don’t express your thoughts or feelings or ask for what you want. When you use passive communication, it feels like others are walking all over you because you don’t assert your own needs. As a result, you might bottle things up and might feel resentful. Passive communication can send the message ”my needs don’t matter,” or “you win, and I lose.” When this message is received by others, those with bad intentions could see this as a way to keep you under their control or to repeatedly take advantage of you. Have you seen this in others before, or perhaps yourself? What kind of message do you think this communication style brings?

Passive-aggressive communication is when you don’t clearly state your needs or feelings, instead using indirectly aggressive communication, such as making snide remarks, being stubborn, or sulking and withdrawing from the conversation. This style of communication looks passive on the outside, but beneath the surface, this person is acting out their aggression in a subtle or indirect way.

Those with this communication style may often feel powerless and resentful, denying there’s a problem and using sarcasm to deal with others. Essentially, this person is communicating, “I’ll seem cooperative, but I’m not going to be” or “I feel powerless to tell you how I really feel, so I’ll frustrate you instead”. What does it feel like when people aren’t upfront about their feelings with you? Can you imagine it being easy or hard to connect with someone that communicated like this?

Assertive communication involves clearly expressing what you think, how you feel and what you want, without demanding that you must have things your way. The basic underlying assumption is ”we both matter, so let’s try to work this out”. It’s seeing everyone involved in the conversation as a part of the group effort in making things work as smoothly as possible.

Assertive communication increases your likelihood of getting what you want, avoiding conflict and maintaining good relationships. Everyone can win in these situations.

When you are assertive you can:

  • Express your own thoughts, feelings and needs

  • Make reasonable requests of other people, while accepting his or her right to say ”no”

  • Stand up for your own rights

  • Say “no” to requests from others when you want to, without feeling guilty

Take this example…

Tom is feeling angry. He’s supposed to get his driver’s license next week, and for the past month his dad has been promising to take him out driving, but it never seemed to happen. Tom feels frustrated because he needs the practice before he goes for the test.

On Thursday, Tom came home from school and asked his dad if they could go for a drive. His dad said he couldn’t because he had some work to do.

Finally at his breaking point, Tom exploded. “You don’t give a damn about me. You are such a liar! You never do what you say you’re going to do,” he yelled.

In return his dad got all fired up and called Tom a spoiled brat who doesn’t think about anyone but himself. Both Tom and his dad were angry at each other after this argument.

This is a good example of how poor communication can lead to conflict and hurt feelings. Let’s have a closer look at some of the errors that led to this angry outburst.

Error 1: Making assumptions

Tom expected his dad to know what he was thinking and feeling, without clearly telling him. Until the time of the argument, his dad had no idea how important it was to Tom to get the extra driving practice. He thought that Tom felt confident about the test and assumed he just wanted to go for a drive for fun, which they could do anytime.

Tom, on the other hand, had assumed that his father knew how important it was for him to get some more practice even though he never told him, and therefore interpreted his dad’s attitude as not caring.

Assumptions occur in most relationships and people get upset because of these misunderstandings. Often we expect people to know what we are thinking—we believe that they should be able to understand where we are coming from, even though we haven’t expressed it clearly. No one is a mind reader, so it’s important to give people a clear picture of where you’re coming from and how you two can work together to make things easier.

An important aspect of good communication is to tell others what we’re thinking and what we want or need, and also to not assume that they already know.

In Tom’s case, the situation could have turned out better if he had communicated more clearly in the first place, by saying something like “Dad, I’ve got my driver’s license test on Tuesday, and I’m feeling nervous about it. Do you have some time this week to take me out on a few drives? What days would work for you?”

By clearly communicating that going for a drive is very important to him, Tom gives his dad a better understanding of where he’s coming from and how he is feeling. By scheduling a specific time, it strengthens the commitment and makes it easier for both of them to plan ahead.

Error 2: Avoiding communication

Tom didn’t say anything until he was very angry. Each time his dad cancelled the planned drive, Tom said nothing. Over time, Tom stewed about it more and more, and finally he exploded. This type of situation is like a pot boiling on the stove—if you don’t let off a little steam as time passes, eventually the pressure builds up and it boils over. Whenever we’re feeling upset, it’s better to talk about it as soon as possible, rather than letting things build up. If we say nothing, we won’t get what we want and our frustration grows.

Communication problems often arise because we don’t say how we feel, what we think or what we want. People often avoid communicating because they are embarrassed or concerned about upsetting the other person. Sometimes we just assume that others should know what we think. The problem is that when you don’t say what you need to say, it increases the likelihood of feeling angry, resentful and frustrated. This may lead to tension or angry outbursts.

Error 3: Labeling

Tom and his dad also used labels to criticize each other. Labels such as “liar” or “spoiled brat” can be offensive. When we label another person, it can feel like we are attacking them, and that person’s first reaction is usually to attack back.

Attacks lead to heated arguments and conflict. Labels are an example of alienating messages (see Error 4 below), because they criticize the person rather than the behavior. It is OK to criticize someone’s behavior (for example,“I think what you did was unfair”), but labeling the whole person (”You are unfair”) is unreasonable and creates bad feelings between people.

Error 4: Alienating messages

When we use criticism, put-downs or aggressive communication, no one wins, and everyone feels bad in the end. Alienating messages make the other person feel threatened or under attack, and usually this person will respond by attacking back. This type of communication very often leads to angry confrontations or a “cold war,” where we stop speaking to the other person, or use minimal communication.

Some examples of alienating messages include:

  • You-statements. We blame the other person and accuse him or her of being wrong or at fault. In Tom’s case, the you-statement was: “You don’t give a damn about me!”

  • Sarcasm. Sarcastic statements are negative or hurtful phrases that you don’t really mean, and are used to put another person down in a more passive-aggressive way. An example of a sarcastic statements include “Well, we can’t all be perfect like you.”

  • Negative comparisons. Negative comparisons are statements that you use when you compare a person to someone else, and in the process, you put them down for not be ‘as good’ as the other person. For example, “Why can’t you get A’s like your sister?” is a negative comparison.

  • Threats. These statements can include giving another person an ultimatum, for example, “If you don’t do what I want, then I’m going to…”

The communication problems between Tom and his father are very common ones. Perhaps you can think of some examples in your own experience, where you or someone you know has used poor communication, such as assumptions, avoidance, or alienating messages. It’s always useful to be aware of your communication so that you can avoid making these types of errors.

Getting your message across isn’t always easy. Good communication skills can help you avoid conflict and solve problems.

Whole messages

One of the most effective ways of communicating is to use whole messages. This is especially useful when you need to bring up an issue that’s difficult to talk about or makes you feel uncomfortable. A whole message involves expressing how you think and feel, while at the same time stating what you want.

Whole messages consist of four parts:

1. Observations

Describe what happened. Try to be factual and accurate, while not making assumptions.

For example, “When Mike came over the other day, you didn’t stop and talk to him.”

2. Thoughts

State your beliefs, opinions or interpretation of what happened in your observation.

For example, “I thought it seemed rude, like you don’t like him.”

3. Feelings

Say how you feel about the situation.

For example, “When you did that, it made me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.”

4. Wants

Talk about what you would like to happen in the situation.

For example, “The next time he comes over, I’d like it if you could say “hi” and to make an effort to talk to him. Could you do that for me, please?”

Learning to communicate effectively takes a bit of practice. Can you think of a situation that you’ve experienced where you needed to communicate with someone about a concern? Perhaps you even have an issue that you need to resolve at the moment. Think about it. Then take these steps:

1. Describe the situation, and who you need to communicate with.

2. Write the whole message, including observations, thoughts, feelings and wants.

TIP: If you find it difficult to say it directly to the person, write down your whole message on paper first. This can help you to clarify what you want to say and how you can say it. Just remember that even if you stumble upon your words, don’t stop mid-way. Don’t be afraid to talk things out. Let your voice be heard.

Information for this article was provided by:

  • Taking Charge! A Guide for Teenagers: Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Hassles and Upsetting Emotions by Dr. Sarah Edelman and Louise Rémond, Foundation for Life Sciences

Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Stress

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Feeling stressed?

A closer look into stress, its causes, and how you can manage it

What is stress?

Stress is a common feeling that comes from a physiological reaction your body has to certain events. It is the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina and heightened alertness.

Even though stress can be a positive thing (like motivating us to make positive changes in our lives or giving us that “extra push” for an exam) sometimes we have too much stress and begin to feel that our lives are out of balance. When this happens managing stress could become a challenge.

What causes stress?

Common events that can stress you out (also called stressors):

  • Tests and exams

  • Problems at school or work

  • Relationships

  • New and greater responsibilities

  • Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse

  • Moving to a new place

  • A traumatic event—such as the death of a loved one

  • New or chronic illness or disability

  • Peer pressure or being bullied

  • Unrealistic expectations placed on you by yourself, friends, family, or culture

  • Watching parents argue

  • Feeling guilty

Everyone’s threshold for handling stress is different, and can change from day to day. Depending on your own resiliency (or ability to thrive in spite of adversity), even dealing with one stressor could be enough to overwhelm you. Could you imagine trying to juggle several stressors at once?

How does stress affect the body?

The human body responds to stressors by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The brain tells your glands to produce more of the hormones called adrenaline and cortisol, and to release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. These changes within your body help prepare you to deal with pressure, which is also known as a stress response. When this natural reaction works properly, the body’s stress response improves your ability to perform well under pressure.

Can I be too stressed?

If you have too much stress in your life, it can do more harm than good, but sometimes stress is necessary to get through certain situations. For example, feeling stressed out about an exam might encourage someone to study more and prepare for the exam. However, there’s also a chance it could become overwhelming—making you panic and feeling so nervous about an exam that you can’t study or concentrate.

It’s important to remember that stress affects people in different ways, and what causes one person to become stressed may not have the same effect on someone else. Try not to compare yourself too much to others, they’re all experiencing things unique to them as well.

What can happen if you’re experiencing too much stress?

Too much stress may have negative consequences for your health, both physical and mental.

Psychological/Emotional Consequences

  • Feeling hostile, angry, or irritable

  • Feeling anxious

  • Avoiding other people

  • Crying

  • Moodiness, feeling frustrated with things that normally don’t bother you

  • Low self-esteem or lack of confidence

  • Anxiety attacks

  • Depression or sadness

Physical Consequences

  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, or indigestion

  • Headache

  • Backache

  • Inability to sleep

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Raised heart-rate

  • Smoking

If you are experiencing any of these problems you may want to talk to your local doctor, counselor or other mental health professional.

Managing stress

It may not be possible to get rid of the stress altogether in your life, however managing your stress is possible. Below are some ideas for managing stress:

  • Tackling the problem. When you’re feeling stressed, you might not realize right away what is causing you stress. First you need to figure out what the problem is and make it manageable. The problem will not go away on its own. In fact, if you ignore the problem, it will probably just get worse. Once you know what the problem is, there are a number of ways you can de-stress.

  • Go for a walk or run. Exercising can be a good way to relieve stress. It helps to get rid of pent up energy and can leave you feeling much calmer. Exercising also releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, which make you feel less pain and make you happier overall! Any sort of exercise can be helpful during stressful times. You may want to go and kick a football with friends, dance, or head to the gym.

  • Hang out with friends. If you are feeling stressed, hanging out with friends can be a great way to keep your mind off of things for a while. By talking with friends, you could realize that similar things that stress you out, also stress your friends out. If you are stressing out about school or work, remember that it is also important for you to have a social life. It is okay to go do something fun with your friends and take a break from your other responsibilities sometimes. Balance is key.

  • Turn the stressor into something fun. Sometimes you might find that the problem isn’t all that bad. It might even be fun! For example, locking yourself in your room or library to focus on doing work might help with stress. However, working in a silent room might also be making you more stressed. You might want to try getting a group of friends together to study in one place, and then maybe grabbing a bite to eat after. Studying together could lower everyone’s stress levels.

  • Take some deep breaths. Deep breathing can help to relax the body and calm you down. Taking deep breaths before an exam, game, job interview or before going on stage may help to calm you down and allow you to focus on the task at hand. The Developing Coping Strategies or Mindfulness articles may also be helpful.

  • Set realistic goals. With unrealistic goals, it is hard to keep things in perspective and cause you to get too stressed out. Setting realistic goals (both short-term and long-term ones) and managing your time and expectations may help to reduce or manage stress. You may also want to check out our Problem Solving and Putting Your Goals into Action articles.

  • Have multiple paths to achieve your goals. There is never one path to achieving your goals. It is important not to put all your eggs in one basket. You could investigate and plan other ways to get where you want to go, whether it’s a university degree, job, or holiday vacation. Everything might not always play out how you thought it would, but you might end up happy with the results. For example, you might get a new job and be very excited about it. After a few days, you might realize your tasks are not as enjoyable as you had hoped. Though your path to achieving job experience is not exactly what you thought it would be, in the end, you might reach your goal and be completely happy with it.

  • Try to avoid harmful behaviors. It may be tempting to use smoking, alcohol, drugs and caffeine as a means of managing your stress. Try to avoid using these substances as a coping mechanism because, in the long run, they may make you more stressed out and can be harmful to the body. Once you rely on something like caffeine, you may realize you are unable to function without it. You may also be tempted to engage in other negative behaviors besides using drugs or alcohol, such as procrastinating, overeating, skipping class, or blaming others. These behaviors will likely get you into trouble, create conflicts, or make you even more stressed out once everything begins piling up.

  • Watch what you’re thinking. Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see situations, people, and the world around you. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best out of stressful circumstances. Even if you’re out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits. Learning to embrace the challenges that come up in your life will help you change how you view adversity. Embrace them and conquer them.

  • Speaking to someone. If you find that you are always stressed and have a hard time focusing on daily tasks, it may be helpful to talk to someone. It can be hard to ask for help, but your friends and family members might not be able to read your mind and know what’s going on with you. Talking to someone else might help you realize that something you are stressed out about is actually pretty manageable. Parents, teachers, or a school counselor may be able to help you cope.

Stress and relationships

Maintaining relationships with friends, family, co-workers, or boyfriends/girlfriends may cause you to become stressed, or your being stressed might affect those relationships. To help manage the stress, it could be helpful to talk to someone about what’s upsetting you. Talking to someone that you trust could help you work out why you are stressed out by the situation or relationship and also offer solutions about healthy ways to manage the stress. You can talk to a friend, family, member, or teacher, but if you feel more comfortable talking with someone else, you can also talk to a doctor, counselor, or even trained volunteers on a helpline.

For additional information:

Acknowledgements: This article was originally written by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Breaking Up

Getting through a break up

Breaking up is never easy. Below are some tips for getting through it.

Breaking up with someone

Over time, you and your partner’s interests might change. You can grow apart or have less in common with the person you’re dating, and it might be time for you to think about ending the relationship.

If you decide to end a relationship, it can be difficult for both people, and respecting one another will make things easier. Once you decide to end the relationship, it’s a good idea to be honest, kind and definite.

You might want to tell the other person what you’ve been feeling and thinking, and what you want for yourself. It’s not helpful to blame the other person or try to pick out faults. Sometimes relationships end simply because people are different, and getting to know someone during a relationship can reveal differences that you didn’t see before. Differences are natural, but they might prevent you from keeping your relationship happy, healthy and strong.

Not sure whether to break up?

It can be hard to tell when exactly a relationship should ‘end’, as often there’s no exact point. Listen to your gut when feeling out these changes you have for your partner. If you’re in a long-term relationship, remember that the ‘honeymoon stage’ only lasts so long, and after that, it’s about genuine love and connection with that person.  Healthy relationships involve trust, support and respect. If those are absent, you might consider whether that relationship is good for you long-term.

How do I break up with someone?

Breaking up with someone can feel daunting, especially because you don’t want to hurt them. Try to pick a good time to break the news to someone, where they’ll be able to react naturally, express how they’re feeling and not get rushed. Often it takes some time for the news to sink in, especially if it’s a surprise. People might react to a break up differently. It’s not uncommon to feel sadness, anger, disbelief, guilt or even indifference. If you’ve been experiencing difficulties in your relationship for some time, your partner might even seem relieved.

Managing these feelings can be hard. Try to be calm, kind and gentle when you’re ending a relationship but also be firm and clear. Think about how you’d want someone to talk to you about ending your relationship. It’s best to wait until you can see that person face-to-face, so you can discuss things more thoroughly. Breaking up over a text message or phone call can come across as inconsiderate or disrespectful of the time you’ve shared together, but if your safety is at risk, this may be your best option.

Getting over an ex and moving on after a break up

If you’re being broken up with, the uncertainty and devastation from the ending of the relationship can be overwhelming. Breaking up is hard, but try to remember the reasons why you or your partner made that decision and that it’s the best thing for two people when they can’t grow anymore in that relationship. It is not unusual to go through the different stages of grief after a big relationship in your life has ended.

It might take some time to accept that your relationship has ended and to move on from the relationship. The end of a relationship can give you time to learn more about yourself, spend time with your friends and do things that you enjoy doing. Having someone you can talk to about your feelings might be helpful. This can be a friend, family member or counselor or other mental health professional.

You may also find it helpful to:

Stay busy. Staying active and doing things you enjoy might help keep your mind off the break up. You might want to hang out with friends, read a book, go for a run or walk or listen to music.

Try something new. Sometimes it’s helpful to make a fresh start by trying something different. There might be a class you’ve always wanted to take—like drama, art or yoga—or you might want to start playing sport.

Look after yourself. This might be a difficult time, and it’s important that you look after yourself. Eating a healthy diet and staying physically active can be helpful. It might also help to treat yourself to something special. Do something that you enjoy.

Try to stay positive. Think about your achievements, your friends, things you enjoy and the good people in your life, and the positive things they have said about you. Try thinking of potential doors that have opened since the closing of your relationship. Do things that help you feel empowered as an independent person. This can help keep you feeling upbeat.

Talk with someone you trust. Getting some support when a relationship is ending might help you work through how you’re feeling. You might find it helpful to talk to your friends, your parents, a teacher, school counselor, doctor or another person that you can trust.

It’s OK to be single. We promise- it can even be fun. Just give yourself time. Learn how to become your own biggest support and best friend, because whether or not you’re in a relationship, you’ll always have yourself. Use this time to explore who you really are.

Need more info?

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Being Bullied

What to do if you’re being bullied

A closer look at being bullied and how you can help yourself stay safe

There are many things you can do if you’re being bullied. Different strategies can work in different situations. You can try and work it out by yourself, but if the bullying doesn’t stop, you might find it helpful to ask someone else for advice. Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you are being bullied—other people can be of great help. If you are being bullied at school, find a trusted teacher, school psychologist, guidance counselor, or administrator with whom you can speak. If you are being bullied at work, seek out a supervisor or a human resources manager.

Working it out yourself

Depending on how bad the bullying is (and as long as you aren’t feeling unsafe, frightened or physically threatened), you might decide to try and work it out by yourself first. Try and remember that no matter how hard you try, the bully might not be willing to change his or her behavior. At this point, talking to someone else can be really helpful.

The following tips might be particularly helpful if you’re dealing with verbal bullying on your own.

When possible, ignore the bully. Ignoring can be helpful, particularly for one-time cases. Bullies are looking for a reaction from you and often lose interest if they aren’t given the satisfaction of making you upset.

Suggestions for ignoring the bully:

  • Walk away when the bully approaches you. Try and imagine that you’re walking away from a friend. This can be a way of making sure your body language (which you’re usually unaware of) doesn’t give away a sense of fear

  • Concentrate on something else. Try thinking about what you’ll do next weekend, counting to 100, or planning your homework

  • Have a saying or a statement that you can repeat in your head when the bully approaches you to block out a sense of fear

Build a virtual wall around you. It might be helpful to build an invisible wall around you by visualizing it in your mind. Any verbal abuse then just bounces off the wall, never passing through to affect you.

Use visualization. Bullies can be pretty scary. Picturing that person looking silly might help to make them less problematic for you. For example, picture the bully’s head shrinking, or picture the bully in his or her underwear.

Stay positive. It can be hard to remember all your good points when someone is doing their best to be negative. Try to think of all the things you do well, and remember that you are a valuable person. Thinking of how bad the bully must be feeling can also help you stay positive. Often times, people that bully have been bullied elsewhere in their life. Everyone’s story is different, and we never know what someone is going through.

Surround yourself with people who care about you. Surrounding yourself with positive people who know and like you for YOU can boost your confidence. This will help you let bullying comments more easily roll off your back. It’s important that you connect with people who genuinely care for you and recognize all of your great qualities.

Hang around other people. You might be safer if you stay in groups. If you are alone, try to identify people who can offer you safety.

Be confident. Bullies usually pick on people that they think are weaker than they are, so it might help if you stand up to them.

Suggestions on how to stand up to a bully:

  • Telling him or her to leave you alone may get a bully off your back

  • Ever heard of the phrase “kill them with kindness”? Being nice to a bully may throw him or her off

  • Using humor can also throw a bully off track

  • Use positive self-talk. Try saying to yourself something like I know I am better than that. I’m not like that. I don’t have to pick on other people to know that I am good

  • Remember that your friends accept you for who you are.

Keep out of a bully’s way. It might be possible for you to avoid the bully. This can mean getting to school in a different way, or avoiding the places that you know he or she hangs out. By avoiding a bully, you’re not giving in, but looking after yourself and making sure you are happier and more comfortable.

Asking someone for help

To stop bullying—whether verbal, written or cyberbullying— it can be helpful to tell someone that you are being bullied. This can seem scary at first, but telling someone can lighten your load and help you to work out how to solve the problem. Talking to someone is particularly important if you feel unsafe or frightened, or if you don’t have many friends. Asking for help or talking to someone about your situation is not being weak or “giving in”. In fact, telling someone can take a lot of strength and courage.

There are many people who might be able to help, including friends, older brothers and sisters, teachers, family, counselors or parents. Teachers and counselors are specially trained to help you. In the workplace, you could also talk to a human resource manager or union representative.

Identify strategies that work for YOU. There are a number of ways to cope with the sadness, anger, fear, and isolation that can accompany bullying.  This can be something as simple as counting to ten or thinking of your favorite happy memory. It’s important that you identify coping strategies that work for you: think about what makes you happy or calms you and try to incorporate those things into your life. In the moment, use strategies that help you act appropriately and feel better. It can be a mantra you repeat to yourself or taking calming breaths. In the long term, there are a number of ways we can help ourselves cope with the feelings bullying creates: exercise, watching funny movies, talking to friends, playing with the family pet, etc. Find something that works for you, and if it helps, make a list of those things so you can remember all of the activities you’ve found helpful.

Some tips for getting help:

  • It might be easier if you talk to someone you know well and trust. This person can give you much needed support and might have suggestions for dealing with the situation that you might not have considered.

  • If you decide to talk to a teacher or counselor, you might feel more comfortable taking a friend with you. If you feel you might get too nervous to speak, write down what you’d like to say on paper or digitally. Don’t feel ashamed about coming forward—teachers and counselors are there to help.

  • If you think that the person you’re speaking with doesn’t believe you, or isn’t taking you seriously, or if that person doesn’t help you take action, it doesn’t mean that your feelings aren’t valid or that the bullying should continue. It’s important you tell someone else and continue to do so until you get the help you need. It’s important to be your own advocate and speak up for yourself.

  • Being bullied can be upsetting and stressful, and it can affect your life in many different ways, including your self-esteem, relationships, work and education. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional such as a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. There is no shame in asking for help.

  • Remember, if you are in any danger of hurting yourself or someone else, it is vital that you ask for help immediately.

Your rights

Unfortunately there are no federal laws prohibiting bullying, but ever state has it’s own set of laws revolving around bullying. However, federally-funded schools are required to intervene if the bullying turns into harassment or is happening due to race, ethnicity, disability, age, sex, or religion. If the school fails to do anything to stop the harassment or discrimination, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to help.

Remember that everyone has the right to live, work, study and play in an environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. No one deserves or asks to be bullied.

 

Information for this article was provided by:


Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Abusive Relationships

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Abusive Relationships

A closer look at abusive relationships, how to identify if you or someone you love is in one, and where to get help

When you’re in a healthy relationship, both individuals support each other by sharing the good times and helping each other through the tough ones. When someone matters deeply to you, and those feelings of trust and respect are returned, it enables you to face the world with confidence.

Building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes a commitment from both sides. But it’s worth it, because in a good relationship, you feel good about your boyfriend or girlfriend and good about yourself.

Not all relationships work out, no matter how much we might want them to. When a relationship becomes violent or destructive, it can be both physically and emotionally dangerous for the people involved.

Key signs of an abusive relationship

While everyone’s experience of an unhealthy or abusive relationship will be different, there are some common patterns of controlling behavior and abuse that can surface before the relationship becomes physically violent. These include:

Possessiveness. This could mean that your partner is checking on you all the time to see where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with; or trying to control where you can go and who you can see.

Jealousy. This includes accusing you—without good reason—of being unfaithful or flirting, or isolating you from your family and friends, often by exhibiting rude behavior.

Put-downs. These can happen either privately or publicly by attacking how smart you are, your looks or capabilities. In an abusive situation, your boyfriend or girlfriend might also constantly compare you unfavorably to other people, or blame you for all the problems in the relationship.

Gaslighting. This is a common tactic used by abusers to manipulate you and to make you question your reality. They are confident liars and slowly start showing this side of themselves to you, isolating you from loved ones and tearing into your sense of identity and all you care about. If you’ve ever been made to feel like you were losing your mind, it’s likely you were with a gaslighter.

Threats. An abuser might use threats against you, for example, that he or she will use violence against you, your family or friends, or even a pet. He or she might tell you that no one else will ever want to date you. Yelling, sulking, and breaking things are also signs of abuse.

What to do if you are being abused

It’s not OK to be physically threatened or scared into things that make you uncomfortable or unhappy just because you are in a relationship.

It’s not OK to be put down and pushed around—shoved, hit, slapped, kicked or punched. No one deserves to be treated this way. No one should use violence—or the threat of violence—to make you do what you don’t want to do.

It’s not OK for someone to use the excuse that they are tired, stressed, overworked or under financial pressure as a reason for their violent behavior.

If you’re living with your boyfriend or girlfriend and are feeling unsafe, find other accommodations with friends or family, or if that’s not possible, an emergency shelter.

Breaking the cycle of violence

A violent relationship may not be violent all the time. Sometimes, violent people treat their boyfriends or girlfriends very well. They can be loving and sorry for their violent behavior. This can make it hard to see what’s really happening. There is a strong chance that the violence will get worse, and the relationship more abusive over time.

After a violent event, it’s common for both of you to try and make things better by making excuses, apologizing, or promising to change. But there is no excuse for this behavior, and just saying sorry is not good enough. Sometimes the violent person will blame the victim by saying things like “it wouldn’t happen if you did what I said.” Things might settle down for a while, but usually it’s only a matter of time before the build-up to violence starts again.

If you’re experiencing violence in a relationship, things can feel very confusing, especially if it’s your first relationship. You might try to make excuses, think of the violence as a one-time incident, or blame the abuse on the fact that the abuser was drunk or stressed. You might not be sure what behavior to expect from him or her. It’s possible to begin thinking that the violence is your fault, or perhaps you start to try to fit in with whatever the abuser wants, even if it makes you uncomfortable. You could also be feeling scared that he or she will hurt you if you try to leave.

Ending any kind of relationship is hard to do, but it can be particularly difficult to leave a violent relationship. When you’re frightened and your self-esteem is low, it can be hard to find the strength to leave or break-up. Sometimes it’s easier to hope that things will change for the better, but too often they don’t.

The first step in changing things is to understand that what’s been happening to you is wrong. Even if your boyfriend or girlfriend says they care about you, it’s not OK to be treated like this and you deserve better.

Where to get help

Listen to your feelings and trust them. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Talk to someone who cares about you. Talk to your mom or dad, a family member, a friend or someone in your community like your doctor, your teacher or your local religious leader. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. You are not responsible for somebody else’s violent behavior. Your first responsibility is to yourself. To develop a safe plan to leave, check out loveisrespect.org’s comprehensive safety planning guide. The sources listed below can also help you get safe.

Helplines

Many free helplines are available if you think you’re being abused, or are worried for a friend you suspect could be being abused. Check out our Crisis Helpline article to find crisis helplines and services offered both nationally and within the state of Oregon.

Some national helplines you can reach out to:

Both hotlines are confidential and staffed 24-hours a day by trained volunteers who are ready to talk to you about whatever you’re feeling.

 

State resources

You can also reach out to an abuse coalition in your state, which can help connect you to more local resources. Check out the Domestic Violence Coalitions website for more information on state coalitions.

Womenslaw.org has information regarding legal matters and abuse per state that might be helpful looking at before leaving the abusive relationship.

 

Information for this article was provided by:


Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Problem Solving

Step-by-step problem solving

Below are 8 steps you can follow when faced with a problem

Problems are a normal part of life. You can think of them as challenges—like a puzzle to be solved—or you can think of them as burdens that you are powerless to resolve.

Your willingness and ability to solve problems has a huge effect on the way you feel, and largely determines whether or not you become frustrated, despondent or depressed. In some cases the solutions are pretty obvious—you know what you need to do to fix the problem. In other situations, the solutions are not clear and you’ll need to consider lots of possible options before you can find the best one.

When you’re confronted with a problem there are ways to deal with it.

How being faced with a problem might affect you

When you’re faced with a problem, it’s not uncommon to feel:

  • Overwhelmed

  • Stressed or anxious

  • Annoyed and frustrated at yourself or others

  • Down or depressed

  • Excited by the challenge

  • Confused

  • Angry

  • Pressure or expectations from yourself or others

  • Physically sick, including headaches or nausea

  • Distracted or finding it hard to concentrate

  • Tired, especially if you’re sleeping too much or not enough

If you’re experiencing these feelings, it’s important to look after yourself. Take time out to do something that you enjoy. Even though you might not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help. If you want to explore other ways to cope, check out of Developing Coping Strategies article.

Having tools to help you make a decision can help you reach a successful outcome. If you’re finding that your feelings are affecting your day-to-day routine, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust. This could be someone like a friend, school or campus counselor or family member.

Focus on solutions

Working through a problem one step at a time can make you aware of lots of possible solutions. This increases your likelihood of getting what you want and helps you to feel more in control.

Sometimes it’s helpful to get ideas and alternative perspectives from other people like family members and friends, although in the end it’s up to you to decide what action to take.

Whenever you’re feeling bad, it is a good idea to ask yourself:

“What is the best thing I can do to resolve this problem?”

If there’s an obvious solution, make a plan of action and get it done. If there isn’t, you might need to take some time to sit down and brainstorm some possible options.

Remember that for most problems, it is possible to find partial or complete solutions. The challenge is to look for the best solutions and put them into practice. Also, it’s important to not act on impulse, no matter how mad or upset you are. If you act on your immediate emotional response, you might do something you will regret later.

Using step-by-step problem solving doesn’t always lead to perfect solutions, but it increases your likelihood of resolving the problem—partially or completely. It might also help you feel more in control of the situation or more confident in your ability to make sound decisions.

Problem solving in eight steps

When you do something towards solving a problem, you usually feel better, even though in some situations there’s not much you can do.

Going through the steps of problem solving might be difficult at first, but will become intuitive with practice.

Step 1: Define the problem

Be specific, because vague descriptions can lead to vague solutions. Without being specific, you’ll find that a whole lot of problems are all tied in together. When this happens, try to separate the problems so you can work on each problem separately.

For example: “I hate my school” can be broken down to:

  • I get upset when people in my class make fun of me.

  • I get annoyed when Mr. Simpson picks on me.

  • I feel tired because I don’t get enough time out from studying.

These are three individual problems, which, although related to each other, are best dealt with separately.

Step 2: Work out goals for each problem

Remember the question to ask yourself is, “What is the best thing that I can do to resolve the problem?” Try to focus on the things that you can do, rather than what you would like to happen.

For example, thinking I would like all the painful people in my class to disappear isn’t a realistic goal because it’s not within your control. However, I would like to have lunch every day with Emmy and Joe is a realistic goal because it’s more likely to be within your control. Similarly, get rid of Mr. Simpson is not a realistic goal, but work out a strategy to help me cope with Mr. Simpson without getting upset is more feasible.

Step 3: Brainstorm lots of possible solutions

Be creative! Come up with as many possible solutions as you can think of. Some of your ideas might be out there, but remember: You aren’t judging or evaluating how good or bad your solutions are at this stage.

For example, some of the possible solutions for dealing with annoying people in your class might be to:

  • Totally ignore them

  • Be rude back to them

  • Be nice towards them regardless of how they speak to you

  • Talk to one or two of them and tell them how you feel

  • Change schools

  • Speak to the principal and ask to change classes

  • Hit them over the head with a hard object

  • Ask your parents to contact the parents of the main culprits

Try to come up with as many different strategies as you can think of, and don’t try to evaluate them at this point.

Step 4: Rule out any obviously poor options

Look for all the ideas on your list that are unrealistic or unlikely to be helpful and cross them out.

For example, hitting someone over the head might really hurt the person and get you in trouble. Would it really be worth it? Is it feasible to change schools, and even if you did, would the same problems follow you? You might also be wary of having your parents contact the other parents, as it could escalate the problem or remove some amount of control you have over the outcome. In some instances, however, the problem could be so severe that getting parents involved is the only thing that makes sense.

Step 5: Evaluate your remaining options

Now you become the judge. Go through the options that are left and write down the ”pros” and ”cons” of each.

For example, being rude back at the other students might help you let off steam (positive), but it might also make the situation more unpleasant (negative).

Being nice toward them in spite of their put-downs may make you feel frustrated (negative), but it might change the way some of them respond to you (positive).

Explaining to the others that you don’t like the way they are treating you might make you feel embarrassed (negative), but at least they will know how you feel (positive).

Ignoring them might be really hard to do and some people find this doesn’t work very well. But if you do it successfully - meaning really ignore them, it might help you feel more empowered (positive).

Step 6: Identify your best options

Once you’ve considered the positives and negatives for each possible solution, it’s time to make a decision. Go through the options and pick out the ones that seem the most practical and potentially helpful.

There may be one option that stands out as better than the others. If there are a few possible solutions, you might be able to implement all of them. For instance, with the above example, you might decide to talk to the people who are hassling you and explain how you feel and what you want. If it happens again, you might then decide to go to your advisor or counselor to discuss the problem and perhaps ask to change classes.

Step 7: Implement the best options

Now it’s time to put your ideas into practice. For example, you might approach one of the girls in your class who makes nasty comments about you and use an “I-statement” to tell her how you feel and what you would like. Try saying, “When you make jokes about me in front of the class, it upsets me. I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t speak about me in that way.”

You might even write down the things that you plan to say so that you have it clear in your mind. If this doesn’t work, your next action might be to go to your teacher or counselor to talk to him or her about the problem. Again, you can write down in advance what you plan to say.

Step 8: How did it go?

The last step is to review how things went. So you tried it out—what happened? Did it solve the problem, or do you need to try another approach? If your current approach worked, then that’s all you need to do. But, if you didn’t get what you wanted, then it’s usually helpful to try a different approach.

What if you can’t fix the problem?

Although problem solving usually helps us find solutions, in some situations, despite our best efforts, we still can’t fix the problem. If you’ve tried a number of strategies and none of them have worked, it may be time to focus on coping strategies.

Try it out

Is there a situation that you don’t like? If you can change it, try working through the steps towards finding a solution to your problem. If not, see how you feel after trying to cope with the situation. What can you say to yourself to accept the situation? What sorts of things can you do to get on with your life in a positive way, in spite of the situation?

Remember that problems are a normal part of life, and that we usually feel better when we do something constructive toward resolving our problems rather than just dwelling on them.

It’s often helpful to go through step-by-step problem solving, using the eight steps described. But, if you can’t solve the problem, it can be helpful to change the way you think about it by practicing acceptance, and moving on with life in a positive way.

 

Information for this article was provided by:

  • Taking Charge! A Guide for Teenagers: Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Hassles and Upsetting Emotions by Dr. Sarah Edelman and Louise Rémond, Foundation for Life Sciences, 2005

Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Developing Coping Strategies

 

Coping 101

A closer look at developing coping skills that work for you

 

How can I develop coping strategies?

In some situations, despite our best efforts, we still can’t fix the problems we find ourselves in. For example, if you didn’t get into your dream college it’s natural to feel upset and disappointed. It may trigger thoughts of not being good enough or asking yourself why that happened to you. If your dream college rejects you, don’t feel discouraged. You’re able to talk to your friends about what they’ve done when a college rejected them or you can talk to a school counselor to see what your other options are. If you spend all your time thinking about why you didn’t get in then you lose time looking at other colleges that you may like just as much as your dream college.

When things don’t go as planned, there are other alternative routes to take. These routes become easier to identify once you find the right coping strategy. If you’ve tried a number of problem-solving strategies and none of them have worked, it might be time to focus on developing skills to help you cope with your problem.

Coping strategies can help you learn to accept situations that are beyond your control and find ways to help you feel better even if the problem still exists. When you develop coping strategies, you’re able to build resilience. You’re able to see things in a better perspective and you’ll feel much better about how you handled a certain situation. Being able to cope with things makes you a stronger person.

To develop coping strategies, try taking the following actions:

  • Challenge negative self-talk. Try and focus more on positives about yourself rather than the negatives. The less you bring yourself down, the better you feel about yourself. Check out our article here for more information.

  • Talk to people who can support you.  Opening up, whether it’s to a best friend, a close family member, or a counselor, can be helpful. They may offer a new perspective or just a comforting response to help you through. If you feel uncomfortable talking to someone in person, you can also call a helpline anonymously. There is always someone there to listen to you.

  • Relax. Breath. A little relief can go a long way towards helping you reflect on your situation and what can you do for yourself. You may want to try deep breaths, a long walk or something else that you find soothing.

  • Distract yourself. Try not to spend all your time and energy thinking about your problem. Keep yourself occupied. Keeping busy can help lift your mood and may even offer opportunities to channel your emotions into positive outlets.

  • Get involved. Make time for enjoyable activities so that you don’t focus exclusively on your problem. Volunteering in areas that interest you may also help.

Different coping strategies

There are numerous ways we can use coping skills to deal with the circumstances and emotional states we find ourselves in. Sometimes our emotions are so intense that relaxing in the moment is out of the question. In order to come to a centered place, we need to get out of our minds and bring ourselves to the present moment. When we are grounded, we are more capable of handling our emotions in an effective way.

Some ways of doing this are through tapping into the five senses. To practice these mindfully, absorb your attention into everything you do. If you’re eating, notice the textures, the different flavors, and the temperature of the food. Really try to be with the moment as much as possible. If you find your mind wandering off, be gentle with yourself and come back to the present moment. It can take a lot of practice to be fully present, so go easy on yourself.

Coping strategies through the five senses:

  • Touch. Wrap yourself in a soft blanket, walk in the grass with bare feet, hold a warm mug of tea, hold your best friend’s hand, explore nearby textures, notice the feeling of your clothes on your skin and the quality it holds (heavy, soft, scratchy, loose, etc)

  • Sight. Notice the textures around you, name the colors you see, look at photos you’ve taken when you were at peace or happy, identify plants or animals on a walk

  • Hearing. Listen to all the small sounds happening around you, hear your breath as you breathe in deeply, try to identify all the instruments used in some soft music, listen to a guided meditation

  • Taste. Notice the texture of the food or drink, identify the different flavors, let food melt in your mouth as you explore its qualities, drink something refreshing

  • Smell. Enjoy the different scents of your environment, try to figure out the different smells you come across, light a candle or incense

Once you find yourself in a space where you’re capable of relaxing and soothing yourself, explore using your current strengths or talents as a form of self-care. If you’re unsure what that might be for you, try thinking of things that make you feel fully absorbed, perhaps losing track of time from how involved you are with this activity. This sensation is called “being in flow”. You’re partaking in something that naturally speaks to you and allows you to transform your feelings by channeling them into something that makes you feel good. If you’re having a hard time thinking of what that might look like for you, try exploring some of the possibilities below.

Coping skills for self-care & relaxation:

  • Yoga

  • Journaling

  • Listening to your favorite music (or songs you can sing along to)

  • Taking a hot bath or shower

  • Going on a walk

  • Putting yourself out in nature

  • Meditating

  • Self-massage

  • Reading a book

  • Studying something that interests you

  • Painting or drawing

  • Having someone play with your hair

Our feelings often act as a sort of internal communication with ourselves. Pay attention to the feelings you have, but don’t become absorbed by them. They’re trying to tell us something about ourselves. Maybe it means we need to set better boundaries for ourselves, or perhaps, telling us how much we care. Although it’s important we sit with our feelings at times, it’s equally important to let those feelings pass and move on. This isn’t the same as avoiding our problems—it’s creating space to let things go.

Healthy distractions:

  • Writing poetry, short stories, fan-fiction, or exploring creative writing prompts

  • Playing or learning an instrument

  • Doing something creative like painting, sculpting, woodworking, or building things

  • Working out

  • Playing video games

  • Watching a movie

  • Calling a friend

  • Watching funny videos online

  • Browsing wholesome content on social media

  • Experimenting with makeup

  • Learning a new language

  • Cleaning up your room

  • Taking care of your pets or plants

  • Cooking a nice meal

Practice acceptance

When you’re faced with a difficult situation, an important question to ask is: “What’s the best thing I can do to resolve this problem?” If there’s anything you can do, it’s important to work through the options one step at a time. Writing out your options and then weighing them with a pros and cons list may be a helpful way of narrowing down the best resolution. However, sometimes you might find yourself in a situation that you can’t change, no matter how much you would like things to be different.

There’s not much you can do about your height, your age, most of your physical features or the family you were born into. There are also things that have happened in the past that you can’t change. What has happened has happened, and we can’t change the past, but you can still change the way you deal with a situation in the future.

The best way to deal with situations you can’t change is to practice acceptance. This means accepting the way things are without insisting that they should be different, and deciding to get on with life in spite of the situation. Accepting how things are or happened and letting go of the attachment you have to more favorable outcomes will reduce the amount of suffering you put on yourself. Sometimes, accepting things as they are and removing expectations (from yourself AND others) can remove the pressure for things to be perfect or to always go well, and can better allow you to heal.

Coping Strategies and Resolutions

Is there a situation that you don’t like? If you can change it, try working through the eight steps in the Problem Solving article to find a solution to your problem. If not, see how you feel after trying to accept the situation. What can you say to yourself to accept the situation? What sorts of things can you do to get on with your life in a positive way, in spite of the problem?

Remember that problems are a normal part of life, and that we usually feel better when we do something to resolve them rather than just dwell on them. But, if you can’t solve the problem, it’s helpful to change the way you think about it. Practice acceptance and move on with life in a positive way.

 

Information for this article was provided by:

  • Taking Charge! A Guide for Teenagers: Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Hassles and Upsetting Emotions by Dr. Sarah Edelman and Louise Rémond, Foundation for Life Sciences (2005)


Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com


Resolving an Argument

Handling conflict with confidence

A closer look at some tools to use for better communication during an argument or disagreement

Why do people argue?

It is normal to argue or disagree with people. Everyone experiences some conflict in their life. Conflict can occur between friends, family and couples. It can also occur between you and your teachers, co-workers or even someone you barely know.

Disagreements or conflicts with people you see regularly, or those you are closest to, can turn into an uncomfortable and stressful experience. Resolving this kind of conflict or disagreement isn’t always an easy thing to do. Conflict or disagreements with people you know can arise for any number of reasons.

Here are a few:

  • You may be having trouble understanding someone else’s perspective on an issue

  • You might feel that your point of view or perspective isn’t being heard or considered

  • You may have different beliefs and values than someone else

  • Your needs may conflict with someone else’s needs

  • You may not be happy about how someone is treating you

  • You may be feeling stressed, anxious or angry about something and need to address it with another person

How to resolve your differences

Approach them in person. If it’s at all possible, try to meet with the person so you’re face to face. If you’re unable to meet in person, avoid having this difficult conversation over text. It’s hard to understand what either of you mean when you can’t hear it in their voice and things can easily be taken the wrong way. Phone calls are a much better option if you’re speaking long distance.

Be mindful. Talking to the person about your disagreement can be helpful as long as it is done in a mutually respectful manner and is most effective when both parties can talk calmly. Make sure it is done in a constructive way by thinking about the points you want to express. How you discuss your differences will be very important to come to a conclusion that all parties will feel happy about. It can be easy to get back into an argument while you are trying to resolve it, and that’s okay. It might just mean you have more work to do in addressing all facets of the issue, so that everyone’s needs are being met.

Allocate time to talk. It’s not a good idea to spring the discussion on the other person, unless you’re in the right time and place. Tell them calmly that you want to talk to them about the disagreement at a time when you can both be present with each other.

Gain an understanding of each other’s perspective. To help understand why the disagreement started, it may help to ask questions about their point of view. It is important to make sure that when you are listening to the other person’s perspective; you are actually listening and not adding your opinion or thinking of a response. You will have the opportunity to tell your side or give your opinions. When it is your turn, nicely remind the other person that you gave them the space and time to tell their side of it and it is now your time. You both might even prefer to write down your point of view so you both can read it and think about what the other has said. Then you can come together and discuss the disagreement knowing where each of you stand. Remember, there is a possibility that the other person might not want to talk about it. Writing down your point of view and how you feel might be helpful to you, but you have to prepared that the other person might not want to discuss the conflict with you or may take what you said wrong because they couldn’t hear how you meant for things to come across.

Explain how you feel. When you talk to the person, tell them how you feel. Your feelings are different from your perspective or point of view. Using “I feel ____ when you ___” helps keep the conversation open without blaming the other person. Everyone has a right to their feelings. You can try to explain how you feel as a result of their opinion, e.g. “I felt that you wouldn’t hear me out” or “It felt like you were judging me”. Try not to blame them or make statements about their perception of the problem. This should be about how you felt. Give them the opportunity to tell you how they felt too. Being in touch with each other’s feelings can make both parties more empathetic of the other’s experience.

Use a mediator. You may need someone else to help you resolve the disagreement. Asking another person to act as a mediator can help you both get another perspective on the disagreement. It is important that this person is neutral in both of your eyes (e.g. having your boyfriend mediate a conflict with your best friend might not be the best option). Anyone can act as a mediator including friends, a counselor, a supervisor or a psychologist.

Conflict with someone at work or at school. If you have a disagreement with someone you work with and you feel that you cannot resolve your differences together, you might need to contact your human resources department for the procedures to resolve the issue. They may tell you to discuss the matter with your supervisor or they may handle the conflict. Each employer is different on how they handle conflicts for employees. If you have a conflict with someone at school who may have a higher status than you (e.g. a professor, school administrator or teaching assistant), there are usually counselors or ombudsman that can help you resolve these conflicts.

Agree to disagree. Resolving a conflict should not be seen as a contest to see who won or who was right or wrong. Even after taking steps to resolve a conflict, you might not still be able to agree. If the person you are in this conflict with is an important person to you and their relationship with you is one you want to keep, it is okay to agree to disagree on this issue.

What if the disagreement turns into a yelling match?

If the argument is becoming too heated, it may be best to put a pause on the discussion. Tell them you need a little space to collect your thoughts and leave the room for a while. Take a walk and allow yourself to process what just happened. When you are both level headed again, re-enter the conversation. It can be easy to say things you didn’t mean if you don’t allow yourself the space to cool down.

Although not every argument or disagreement will lead to the extinction of a relationship, there are times when it does. If neither of you can come to an agreement, and the issue is extremely important to one or both of you, it may be good to take a break from each other. There are some issues that cannot be resolved, and that’s okay. It’s all a part of this process we call life.


Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com

How Talking to Someone Can Help

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When you need to get it off your chest

How can talking about your feelings help?

Talking about your concerns can give a different perspective

Are you having a rough day? Have you been feeling down for a while? Everyone goes through tough times, and no matter how long you’ve had something on your mind-whether for just a few hours or months-it’s important that you talk to someone about it. You don’t have to confront your setbacks alone. Here are a few of the benefits of talking to someone about how you’re feeling.

Sort through your feelings. Talking about your feelings can help you make sense of them. Sometimes, just verbalizing what is upsetting you to someone you trust can help you sort through your feelings, or make the situation clearer.

Put things in perspective. If you’ve been keeping things to yourself, a situation seem more overwhelming than it actually is. The person you talk with might help you see the situation in a new or different perspective. Someone outside the situation might also be more neutral about what’s going on because the outcome won’t affect him or her personally. The person you speak with might also suggest options that you had not thought about before.

Release tension. Talking through your concerns can also be a great way to vent and release pent-up tension. Just “getting the problem out” can help you feel better. Not only does it feel great, but it can also give you new insights into what’s happening in your life.

Who should I talk with?

Deciding who you want to talk to is an important first step. It’s important that you can trust the person you decide to speak with. You might want to talk with a friend, or someone slightly older, or a family member. Sometimes potential helpers may not have the experience or knowledge to provide the advice or support you need.

Depending on your situation, you might also want to speak with a professional, like a teacher, counselor, doctor or nurse. If it’s necessary, each of these individuals can point you in the direction of someone specially trained to help you cope with your specific issue. If you can’t find someone you know to talk to, or talking to someone you know might feel too embarrassing, you might want to try youth helpline YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491 or by texting teen2teen at 839863, where trained individuals will listen to you. You can call 24/7 to talk with someone if you are in crisis, or call between 4pm and 10pm PST to specifically speak with youth.

Sometimes it isn’t easy

If you’re used to bottling everything up, it can make it very hard to actually talk about what’s going on. Just know, no matter how much or how little you share and get off your chest, you’re allowed to take time to process your feelings and to become comfortable with sharing yourself. Once you find someone that can honor your story and hold space for you to talk freely, you’ll find it much easier to continue doing so. Remember that it’s okay to move at your own pace.

Acknowledgements: This article was partially developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com