Practicing gratitude is one way you can lead a happy and content life. By reflecting on what you’re grateful for, you focus on what’s good, instead of dwelling on things that upset you.
A gratitude journal is a book or file where you write down what you’re grateful for. Writing in your gratitude journal can help relieve stress, promote calmness and clarity of thought, and help you deal with depression and anxiety.
Everyone’s gratitude journal is different, and you’re free to create yours however you like. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Choose a journal
There are so many cool journals and books around, you can hunt out one that feels good to you. Your journal should reflect your personality and have the pages set out the way you prefer. You can choose lined pages, blank pages, or even specific gratitude journals with pages laid out for creating lists.
You may also like to use embellishments like coloured pens, stickers, stamps, or ribbon. Anything that makes you feel good is allowed. Alternatively, if you aren’t into paper, you could just open a new file on your computer to use, or even turn your social media account into your gratitude journal.
Set aside time for writing
Make your journal a daily practice by setting aside a block of time to jot down things you’re grateful for. First thing in the morning is a great time, because those good thoughts are in your head all day. Last thing before bed is good, too, as it gives you something pleasant to think about as you drift off to sleep.
Set a daily alarm, and make your journal a habit. You only need 10 minutes – enough time to pull out your book and jot down a short list or sketch. Keep your book in the place where you’ll be stopping, with a pen handy, so you have all your tools ready to go.
Use a prompt
At first, you may stare at the page and struggle to think of what to write. Use these prompts as a way to guide you. Change up your prompts until you settle into a routine that works for you. After a while you may find you don’t need a prompt, or that you use the same one every day.
Figure out what works for you
Your gratitude journal is personal, so you can use it however you like. There are no rules, so enjoy exploring your interests and personality between its pages. You don’t have to limit yourself to writing – draw pictures, add photographs or collages, dictate your gratitude journal to a friend.
Check in with yourself regularly during your journaling time and ask yourself, “how do I feel?” “Is this making me happy?” Notice when your happiness improves and when you grow more confident. Making note of these changes helps to strengthen them.
If you'd like some more tips, ideas and apps for your journal, check out this link:
Have you tried writing a gratitude journal? What kinds of things do you like to include?
A ‘mindset’ is a belief that illustrates how we approach a task or challenge. Psychologists often speak about a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset to differentiate two concepts.
People with a fixed mindset believe talents and abilities are fixed. You’re either good at something, or you’re not. In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe they can develop skills and abilities and constantly change and improve.
Challenging your fixed mindset takes courage and tenacity. Here’s how you can demolish your fixed patterns and approach challenges in a new way.
Change the script
Your fixed mindset has a distinct voice that tells you how to approach a challenge – usually by berating you that you don’t have the required skills until you decide it’s not even worth trying. If you do try, and fail, your “voice” will tell that of course that was going to happen. When you recognise this voice, challenge what it says. Ask if it’s really speaking the truth. Consider these ways of flipping the script:
Fixed mindset: “I’m going to fail and I’ll be a failure.”
Growth mindset: “I may not succeed, but I’ll learn something. Most successful people have failures along the way.”
Fixed mindset: “If I don’t try, then I won’t be disappointed.”
Growth mindset: “If I don’t try, then I’ve automatically failed. Might as well try and see what happens.”
Fixed mindset: “If I had the talent to do this, everything would work out. It hasn’t, so clearly I’m not supposed to be here.”
Growth mindset: “Just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I like a challenge. It helps me to learn and push forward.”
Fall in love with failure
Think back to previous failures in your life, or challenges you’ve attempted but didn’t overcome. Look for an outcome that was in some way good. Did you learn something about yourself? Did you meet someone who helped you improve your skills?
As humans, we learn so much more from our failures than our successes. Challenge yourself as often as you can and learn to actively seek out and embrace those challenges.
Stop being obsessed with being seen a certain way
People with a fixed mindset believe they are a certain way – smart, or athletic, or fun. Anything that challenges their perception of themselves leaves them feeling irritated or competitive. Learn to let go of the feeling that it matters what other people think of you. It doesn’t matter if someone else is “smarter” this one time, as long as you’re being the authentic you.
Changing your mindset can feel overwhelming, but it all begins with awareness of your thoughts and a willingness to challenge yourself.
Are you ready to change to a growth mindset?
It is very normal as a parent or whānau member to be worried about your rangatahi in the wake of an event like the terrorist attack that occurred in Christchurch on March 15.
We have compiled some resources from trusted sources to support you. We also want you to know that we are available to chat with you about your young person.
We are happy to chat with parents, grandparents, friends, whānau, teachers, coaches and more. Being supported as the support person is incredibly important.
This includes all of our free and affordable counselling services. If you don't find what you're looking for here, give us a call, text us, email us or chat with us and we'll do what we can to connect you to the right information or resource. In some parts of the country we also provide individual and family counselling face to face.
The Ministry of Health has an excellent resource on supporting adolescents involved in crisis and traumatic events which relates specifically to this developmental stage.
Some key points:
The peer group
The adolescent’s experience
If you are supporting multiple children of varying ages, our friends at The Parenting Place have put together a useful guide on how to talk to your kids about trauma, and it specifically covers different ages groups, including: up to four years, 5-11 years, 12-14 years, above 14 years.
The information for over 14 year olds reinforces the guidelines from the Ministry of Health, and says:
They’ll most likely be hearing a lot of information through friends and social media, so it’s important to make sure the information they have is accurate. Ask them if they’ve heard about what happened and what they know about it.
We've got some great information about how to Be the Change you want to see in the world that includes ways to volunteer, be heard and some information about discrimination and what to do about it.
Finally, it is so important that you get support for yourself if you are supporting others. If reading and researching is your thing, we recommend this starting point from the Mental Health Foundation. If talking things through is something you’re comfortable with, please feel free to call us, or our friends over at 1737, or Lifeline. You can also text us if you prefer. Both numbers are free and both services are confidential and anonymous. Our teams can also refer you to other services in your local area if you need additional ongoing support, or if you’re looking for something specific.
Free call 0800 37 66 33
Free text 234
We have a lot more parenting resources on our website, you can check all of those out at the link below. Our Advice Hub has tons of useful information for young people, but all of it is equally applicable to adults. We've also put together a specific resource for young people about understanding thoughts and feelings in relation to the events in Christchurch.
Take care of yourself, we're here for you.
It is very normal to feel a strong reaction to what has happened, and those feelings will be different for everyone. Some of us may be feeling very sad, upset or angry. Some of us may have no idea what to feel or do or say. All of this is very normal.
In the past few days we’ve been hearing from all kinds of people about how they are feeling. Nothing is too big or too small to contact us about.
Some of the following feelings may sound familiar:
In the days following this attack many messages, stories, articles and videos have been shared online, on TV and the radio. This intense focus is normal, as Aotearoa processes what has happened, but it can also feel very overwhelming - it seems that everywhere we look we are being reminded of what has happened.
Some of us have also seen some very violent images and videos on social media of the attack itself. Watching videos like this are not helpful. We encourage anyone who sees these to report the video or image, and to connect in with someone you trust to talk about it. You are also welcome to call or text us to talk it through.
As we watch our friends, media personalities and celebrities share their responses to this tragedy, it is normal to think you should be feeling a certain way. It is really important to know that we all process events like this differently, and there is no certain way you should be feeling right now. It’s normal to compare, but it is okay to be feeling differently to your mates.
There are some simple things you can do for yourself in this time, or if you notice a friend needs some extra love, you can remind them of these things too.
Kindness, kindness, kindness
It is an important time for kindness. Be kind to yourself first and foremost, especially during times of heightened emotions and stress. Do what you need to take care of yourself. If you’re not sure what that looks like for you, we recommend checking out the 5 ways to wellbeing from our friends at the Mental Health Foundation.
Also, kindness for one another. Offer to have a kōrero with your friends if you think they need it. Be extra kind to strangers, as we don’t know how other people might have been affected. It is also important to recognise that our Muslim community here in Aotearoa is grieving, and may be feeling additional fear and sadness. The attacks last week targeted this faith-based community during a time of peaceful worship, and that has had a big impact. The folks over at the Spinoff have put together some good ideas about supporting our Muslim whānau.
Take a social media break
Put down your phone for a while, adjust your screen-time settings, or even delete some apps for a while and add them back later. Social media is an echo chamber, and it can be really overwhelming to see the same images, reports and intense information over and over.
Take some time out and be aware of what is around you, sit and listen to the sounds and sights. Listen to music you really like. Music has an impact on our heart rate, so quieter, less intense music is more likely to help you chill out. Try something new that helps with stress, like yoga or meditation. Even simple breathing exercises can have a huge impact on how we feel.
Stick to your routine
Sometimes the best thing we can do in response to an event like what happened in Christchurch is to stick to our routines and what we can control. It’s okay to take time out to process. This is especially true for anyone bereaved or feeling significantly impacted. Where possible though, sticking to the everyday stuff can help - going to school, heading to practice, catching up with friends.
Spend time with family and friends
Hold your loved ones close. Make some extra time for your family and your friends. If you’re worried about someone, ask them how they’re feeling, or share how you’re feeling with someone you trust. Connecting with others is a powerful positive force.
If you’re supporting someone who is having a particularly hard time with what has happened, you’re welcome to contact us for help and guidance.
If you don’t feel like you can connect with family or friends right now, we’d love to hear from you.
We would love to hear from you - what happens when you call or text Youthline?
Calling or texting Youthline is free, anonymous and confidential.
When you call us, we try to make sure you are answered by a counsellor from the centre nearest to you. They will introduce themselves and ask you a little about yourself and how they can help. You can say anything you want in confidence and there will not be any comeback. In fact, you don't even need to use your own name.
If you are in a difficult position they may ask you how they can help and may offer some ideas, but it is not for them to make judgments or tell you what to do. They will work things out with you, not for you. Sometimes working through a problem might take more than one phone call or text, and that is okay. They will not judge or criticise you, or tell you what to do. You might be asked how you are feeling and be invited to talk about your feelings. We try to provide a comfortable and accepting experience to give you the time and space that you need to talk if you want to. You do not have to be in a crisis situation to ring or text.
Our counsellors are available by phone from 8am to midnight, and for crisis calls after midnight.
A text conversation with Youthline is not as instant as calling or chatting with us online. It usually takes 5-10 minutes to receive a message back.
Our counsellors are available by text from 8am to midnight.
If you want to talk about the terrorist attack in Christchurch and how you’re feeling now, a friend you are worried about, or anything else on your mind, please reach out.
Call us for free at 0800 37 66 33
Text us for free at 234
For more answers to frequently asked questions about our Helpline check out the links below.
“Fake it till you make it” is a mantra we often tell ourselves when we’re trying to feel confident. And it can work for an hour or a day to plaster on a smile and pretend. If you truly want to be more confident every day, you have to work at it. Here’s how you can build and maintain a confident outlook on life:
Visualise the outcome you want
Take a moment to imagine yourself in the future – the future you want to happen. Build an image that makes you feel proud and happy. Keeping this positive vision in your mind as you pursue your goals helps you to stay focused and not give in to negative thoughts.
Affirmations are a powerful tool used by many successful people. An affirmation is a positive statement about yourself that you repeat, like a chant or mantra, inside your head or out loud. We believe the messages we tell ourselves, so proactively create a positive message that you can give yourself over and over again.
Question your inner critic
We’re often harshest on ourselves, telling ourselves horrible things we’d never say to our friends or family. Next time you berate yourself, question what you’re saying. Ask yourself, “what evidence do I have that I’m a failure?”, or “Does making one mistake really mean my entire life is over?” Learn to turn around your catastrophic thoughts.
Do you worry about pleasing other people and spend your time saying yes to things you don’t really want to do? Confident people create boundaries in their lives and are okay with saying, “no.” You do yourself the ultimate act of respect by demanding respect from others. Say what you mean and be okay with not pleasing everyone all the time.
Take others off a pedestal
People with low self-confidence often idolise other people and can’t see how they measure up. Constantly comparing yourself to others will leave you feeling bitter and resentful. Instead, celebrate what makes you amazing and what’s good in your life. Spend time helping other people and lifting your own confidence up.
Care for yourself
Treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you reserve for others. Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy by creating good exercise, diet, and sleep habits. Make an effort to look good and to choose activities and friends that challenge and excite you, and make you feel good.
Maintaining self-confidence is a skill you hone every day, but it does get easier with practice. What are you going to do today to improve your self-confidence?
Seven out of ten people experience stress or anxiety daily, according to a study by the American Psychological Association. It’s impossible to get rid of stress completely, because it’s an important part of what makes us human. A little bit of stress will help you study hard, mend difficult relationships and strive to achieve your goals.
If you’re feeling stressed all the time, you need some tools to help you manage – and one of the best ways to manage stress is through regular exercise.
How does exercise help with stress?
Exercise does more than just improve your health and make you better able to fight off illness – it’s also a natural stress reliever. When your body feels good, so does your mind. Exercise can:
Physical activity helps your body to pump oxygen around its systems. You get more oxygen to your brain, which helps with clear thinking and concentration. Exercise also feels great because it releases endorphins – neurotransmitters that give us all our happy, feel-good vibes. More endorphins = a happier, healthier mind.
When you exercise, you’re usually conducting repetitive activities that require focus and concentration. This takes your mind off whatever you’ve been stressed about, often allowing space for a solution to present itself.
What kind of exercise can you do?
Even five minutes of aerobic exercise is enough to unleash anti-stress benefits. Here are some ways you can add regular exercise to your life:
Other ways to relieve stress
Exercise is not the only thing you can do if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. We also recommend:
Do you exercise when you’re feeling stressed? Try it and see if it helps you relax.
Fat, ugly, scrawny, pimply, too tall, too short – even though everybody is different, we can sometimes feel as though our bodies aren’t perfect. When you start to believe your looks determine your value as a person, and you fixate on parts of your body you don’t like, then you might be experiencing body image issues.
If you’re not careful, body image issues can escalate into bigger problems, such as:
Why do I feel negative about my body?
54% of teenage girls and 41% of teenage guys are dissatisfied with their looks. A huge reason for this is because of the unrealistic expectations placed on them by the media. Anyone who doesn’t fit the popular idea of what “beauty” or “hotness” is can find themselves feeling inadequate and wishing they could change their looks.
It doesn’t help that fashion also reinforces these stereotypes – you can feel as though you have to dress a certain way to be attractive.
Your peers also play a big part in this – you might develop through puberty at a different rate to others, and they can call attention to it in a negative way. Being rejected by someone you’re into or being pressured to look a certain way can leave you feeling inadequate. You might be encouraged to make fun of the way other people look.
It’s hard to ignore things people say about you, especially if they come from friends, crushes, or family. Remember, you’re not defined by the way you look. Try to spend time with people that make you feel happy and confident, and avoid watching or reading media that encourages you to look a certain way.
Managing body issues and building healthy habits
If you think a friend is experiencing body issues, or you’re feeling bad about your own body, here’s what you can do to help:
Always focus on your positive qualities, and remember that everyone in the world is different – you don’t have to look a certain way to be happy or have an amazing life. Rock your individuality and celebrate your body!
Friends are one of the true pleasures in life. They help make school enjoyable and weekends adventurous. They listen to your problems and make you laugh. They celebrate when you do something awesome, and give you a shoulder when you need someone to lean on.
If you’ve moved to a new school or you’re struggling to make friends, here are some tips that can help.
Practice your conversation skills
Making friends starts with talking to people and finding someone you can connect with. Conversation skills improve the more you use them, so try to challenge yourself to speak with two people every single day. Think up topics beforehand if you like. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll get better with time. Starting the conversation is the most difficult part, so once you master that, you’ll be sweet!
Listen more than you talk
Research shows that people love talking about themselves, so being the listener can be an important step. If you want to make friends, you’ve got to learn to ask lots of questions. Ask them about things they seem passionate about, or for advice on the best places or eat or new music to listen to. Practice good listening, by focusing on them, not fidgeting, making eye contact, and making it clear they can trust you by explicitly saying you’ll keep the conversation private.
Remember names and greet people
When you pass a new acquaintance in the halls or at your next event, say hi to them and use their name. A person’s brain lights up upon hearing their own name, and this makes them more likely to pay attention to you and remember your interaction in a positive way.
A good way to meet people with the potential to become friends is to join clubs, sports teams, youth groups, and other extracurricular activities that interest you. You already have a built-in topic of conversation and a shared interest.
Develop your confidence and inner strength
The more you work on improving your own confidence and being your own best friend, the more appealing you are as a friend prospect to others. People are attracted to those who are sure of themselves and have a positive outlook on life. Be yourself and feel good about it, and your new friends will follow.
Good friends are worth waiting for
With some people, you click immediately, but with others it can take time to develop trust and rapport in a friendship. Cut yourself some slack – you don’t have to become popular in a week just because it happens in movies. Good friendships are priceless, and they’re worth taking time to nurture and grow.