The following blog was written by a PAPYRUS staff member.

Surviving the summer holidays

You’ve been waiting all year for summer to come around, you have been counting down the weeks, the days until classes and exams are over. Now it’s here, school/college/uni’s out for summer! However you suddenly have all this seemingly infinite time, and you’re questioning why you’re feeling so down and fed up?

It’s likely that for the last 10 months, you’ve had a pretty solid structure and routine. Whilst this can be tiring, and has you counting down to the weekend, we are creatures of habit and seek comfort in having our own ‘normal’. When we lose a routine, it has a massive impact on our wellbeing.

You may have worries about exam or assessment results coming up, or about what your next steps are. We know very well by now, especially after these last couple of years, that humans don’t cope well with uncertainty. For lots of people, the holidays can feel really lonely, as we’re not surrounded by our usual support network. For other people, it may be that home doesn’t feel like a happy place. Some other people may simply feel really, really bored. Either way, none of these are comfortable feelings to have. Plus, there’s the additional pressure that it’s summer so therefore you feel that you should be having the absolute best time, all of the time (I’ll let you in on a secret: this isn’t realistic).

What can I do?

Set yourself a mini-routine. This doesn’t have to be jam-packed full of different activities, or be a life-changing experience. Even doing one small task or activity per day is something. Having a routine provides distraction from our thoughts and stresses. Without distraction, we ruminate (re-think over and over and over again) over those thoughts and worries, which can feel really consuming.

Remember, you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing, or rather, what you think everyone else is doing. Self-care is really individual so what this looks like for you, may be completely different to someone else. Bear in mind your own interests, as well as what you have the energy for too.

Try a new skill

Maybe you like to be active. Maybe you’re more into the arts. You might prefer to be indoors and have a hobby that’s digital or online. All of these are okay. Have a think about what you enjoy, and a realistic way that you’re able to practice this skill.

Here is a PAPYRUS resource which has split into different categories, with some suggestions of Distraction Techniques.

Join a club

Have a look to see what’s happening around you! It might be that you get to meet some people who are also feeling a similar way to you, whilst learning a new skill or doing something that you enjoy. Activities and clubs aren’t always affordable and accessible for everyone. Some charities may offer activities for free, or for a small donation, so it may be good to familiarise yourself with what is around you.

There are lots of Youth Zones around the country, there may be some local to you. They offer a range of activities, mentoring and support to young people up to 19, or up to 25 if you have additional needs. More information can be found, here.

You may also have a local multi-purpose cultural venue which may offer some summer activities too.

Find your happy/safe space

Where do you feel happiest? Is there somewhere you feel most safe? This may be a room in your house, it may be a certain nature spot, it could be meeting up with a loved one. Being in a place we feel happy or at the very least, safe, is an important part of our wellbeing. Take some time to think about where this might be for you.

Volunteer

Volunteering can be a great way to spend some time making a positive change in the world. For lots of people, volunteering can feel very rewarding. It might be an idea to think of a cause that you really care about, and see if there are any opportunities local to you to get involved. As an added bonus, volunteering can be work experience too!

Have a look at some places local to you. If you’re stuck, there’s a UK database for volunteering opportunities, here.

You can volunteer for PAPYRUS, too. Simply register your interest on the Volunteer Hub, and the volunteering team will be in touch.

Look for a part-time job or some work experience

If you’re old enough to work, you might be interested in finding a part-time job and saving some pennies. This can be another way to connect and socialise, as well as building your CV too.

More information can be found in the following links:

https://www.themix.org.uk/work-and-study/getting-a-job

https://www.studentjob.co.uk/part-time-job

Stay connected

Are there people you can keep in touch with? Friends or family? It may not be possible to see them in person, but it might be possible to schedule a video chat, or even play an online game together.

If you’re struggling, reach out

You might be reading this and find that none of these suggestions seem helpful right now. If so, that’s okay. Whilst your usual term-time support may not be accessible, there are lots of services and charities which are still available to support you throughout the summer. If you’re struggling to manage your mental health, or you don’t feel safe, we’ve listed some helplines below which you can access for support. Whatever you do this summer, take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.

Childline – offers emotional support to young people under 19

The Mix – a service offering mental health and wellbeing to young people up to 25

SHOUT – a 24/7 crisis text service. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to start a conversation.

HOPELINEUK is open everyday from 9am until midnight, if you need anonymous and confidential support to manage thoughts of suicide. Call 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org.

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