worried about a mate

It’s not always easy to tell when someone’s going through a hard time. Especially if they’re purposely trying to cover something up. As humans, we have become experts at pretending we’re ok, even when we’re not.

We’re often too proud, or too scared to ask for help. We’re so quick to assume that people have their own problems to deal with, we ask ourselves, “why would they want to hear about my problems??!”

The truth is, we need to be better at looking after each other…

Are they acting strange?

So, whatever the problem might be – if you’re worried about a mate, here are some signs you can look out for that might indicate that they need help:

  • Sudden weight loss/gain
  • Not sleeping
  • Not washing/taking care of their personal hygiene
  • Visible physical injuries
  • A sudden change in moods which go from one extreme to the other
  • Appearing depressed, down in the dumps or sad all the time
  • Making excuses for not hanging out or socialising*
  • Lying about where they are going/what they are doing
  • Unusual body language
  • Acting out of character
  • Actively pushing you away
  • Not reply to texts/calls
  • Going out of their way to pretend they are fine, after a traumatic or upsetting event
    Not wanting to talk about things which  you know are bugging them
  • Not wanting to go home

*bare in mind that it can be any combination of these things. Some of them, when on their own might seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but remember to keep your eyes out for other signs that might indicate that something’s up.

Talk it out

Whatever the problem is, chances are, it’ll manifest itself in one of the ways listed above and the very best way to deal with it is to tell you’re friend that you think something’s up. Make sure they know that you’re all ears if they do want to talk. If they don’t want to talk to you about it, you can’t make them speak up.

Instead, try encouraging them to speak anonymously to Ditch the Label. Send the link below in a message and explain that they can access impartial and non-judgmental help from a digital mentor:

They can either post their query anonymously to the community, or message a digital mentor directly. Simply log in, click ‘messages’, and select a mentor to speak to.

Don’t take the risk

It can be difficult to determine whether things like self-harm or talk about suicide is a ‘call for help’ or a genuine attempt or risk. The truth is, it doesn’t actually make a difference because either way, your mate needs help. Never dismiss a suicide reference or threat. It really can be the difference between life and death.

The first and most important thing to do is to speak to a trusted adult about your concerns, especially if your friend is in crisis. Alternatively, you can refer them to the following helplines if they are willing to talk. If not, contact them yourself on behalf of your mate:

Kindness is a funny thing. We all know we should be kinder, but sometimes it can be hard. When the world feels a bit rubbish, even hostile, spreading kindness might not seem that appealing when you could just hole up in your room attempting to complete Netflix. Well, we don’t think that should be the case. Spreading kindness is needed now more than ever, so here are our top reasons why you should have a think about sharing a little joy, even when the world sucks.    

1) The world is seeming a little more difficult than usual right now 

It’s hard to ignore the headlines at the moment, and just about everything seems a little hopeless. Coronavirus, climate change, and loads of other pretty bad stuff has been going on to kick us into 2020, and that has been pretty impossible to get away from. Doing something small to show someone you care might seem a bit futile when you’re up against the big stuff, but it’s in times like this when being kind to each other matters more than ever. So make a cuppa, pick a flower, clean the kitchen. It’s not going to cure the world, but it might make you and someone else in your life forget about it’s problems for a minute. 

2) The weather is still rubbish and summer feels a long way off

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and even though the evenings are getting a little bit longer, the promise of some summer sun still feels a long way away. With everything that’s been going on in the world at the moment and the promise of good times is all but cancelled, being kind to one another is so important right now. Try getting outside for some fresh air with a neighbours dog, offer a hand with their errands, or volunteer for something. Doing stuff to help others, even strangers, is a sure fire way to make you feel like you are doing your bit. 

Are you aged between 11-18 and in full time education in the UK? We’ve teamed up with Simple, who have partnered with Little Mix, to challenge everyone to choose kindness this spring. For more information on how you can get involved, check this out.

3) Someone in your life might really need it and you don’t even know it 

We all know to try to check in on friends, but also life can get in the way more often than not. Well, spread a little kindness and you never know what kind of positivity you can bring to someone’s day. Check in on friends you haven’t seen or heard from in a while, even send a letter or a postcard to some of them. Sometimes, it’s even those close to us that need it, so don’t forget about them too!

4) It’s good for your mental health as well

Being good to others has been proven time and again to boost your own mental health, as well as making other people feel pretty damn wonderful. Doing a few good deeds, anonymous or otherwise has been known to release serotonin, the endorphin associated with happiness. So not only are you making the world a better place, but you’re making your brain a better place too. Wins all around we think.   

5) Kindness catches on

Be kind, just to be kind. Pay it forward, and let others follow your example. Think about it – a fight never began because two people were kind to each other. If you start a kindness movement, whether that’s on social media, in your community or amongst your family and friends, you can guarantee it will catch on with some of them at least.

We’ve teamed up with Simple, who have partnered with Little Mix, to challenge everyone to choose kindness this spring. For more information on how you can get involved, check this out.

When the days get short and it’s all dark and chilly outside, it can be easy to feel a bit rubbish about life. Combine that with everyone being mad busy getting ready for the festive season and wrapping up their years, feeling lonely is normal. The most important thing to remember is that you are never alone in feeling lonely, and there are lots of things you can do to cheer yourself up. 

1) Do all the things that make you happy 

When you feel a bit lonely, it can be really easy to wallow in it. But putting on sad songs and sitting in your room alone is only ever going to make it worse. Instead, do all the things you love doing solo. Whether it’s art, exercise, watching movies or playing video games, doing things that bring you joy will make the time go faster and make you feel fulfilled. 

2) Hang with the family if you can 

If your family is kicking around, use this time to have a bit of quality time with them. Suggest a few day trips, a meal out, a trip to the cinema or just a night in chilling. If you don’t get on with them so well, now might be the chance to spend a little bit of fixing what’s been going with you. Sit down over a cup of tea and talk to them. We know it’s easier said than done, but it might be the best or even only chance you are going to have to do this for a while. 

3) Get a temp job

The festive season sees every shop, pub and restaurant desperate for people to help out during the busiest period of the year. Have a look in your local town and hand a few CVs around. It will be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, get you out of the house and earn some extra dollar in time for the new year. Chances are, there will be loads of people your age that are doing the same thing, so you might just make a whole new bunch of friends through it as well.

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4) Meet people in other ways 

Loads of organisations look for extra volunteers at this time of year as they host things like Christmas dinners for vulnerable people, soup kitchens for homeless people, and food banks are super oversubscribed. Try volunteering for something and meet people through that. It will get you out of the house and spreading some of that Christmas good karma. 

5) If your friends are just away for a bit, try and get a FaceTime in

It might just be that your pals have all gone their separate ways for the festive period and you feel a bit lonely and left out at home by yourself. Well get active about staying in touch with everyone over the holidays. Hit up the group chat for updates on their lives or just spam them with GIFs and memes. Set up a FaceTime with your best friend so you feel connected, or reconnect with someone who might have fallen off your radar lately. 

6) Make a plan 

Use this time to get organised about next year and make some plans. Whether it’s for your holiday next year, where you want to move to in a few years or even just ways you can work on yourself next year, this is a great time to think about the future. We know that when you feel lonely, it’s really easy to get caught up in how rubbish your present is, but thinking about what lies ahead can give you hope for pulling out of your loneliness. Plus, some of these plans will almost definitely involve getting out and hanging out with people at some point soon, and that’s definitely something positive to focus on. 

7) Remember, loneliness doesn’t last forever

Feeling lonely can be all consuming, and it can make you feel like it is going to last forever. The thing is, it absolutely doesn’t have to, you just need to be proactive. We know it can make it all feel a bit pointless, but loneliness is only ever going to end if you help it to. So get out and do some of these things, meet some new people and feel connected. 

Need someone to talk to? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors in confidence here.

Overcoming Social Anxiety – Everything you need to know

We live in an age of anxiety. With a combination of countless disasters in the news whilst being bombarded by constant ads, it comes as no surprise that the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with anxiety is at an all-time high.

In ordinary, everyday situations it is reasonable and some might even say good to be anxious, it can after all help us perform better. Even feelings of fear have a purpose, they are designed to help us survive scary situations we might encounter. Back in the “good old days”, this made us quicker to respond to the threat of being eaten alive; forcing us to run, hide or for those who are a bit more courageous, throw a stone… (and then leg it!) This response is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response which causes the heart to speed up, hyperventilation (getting more oxygen) and increased blood flow to the muscles.

Zoella on social anxiety

We all get a bit nervous if we have to speak in front of a large group of people, right? Or if we have to meet someone for the first time? This is totally normal. There are countless ordinary situations such as this that cause people who suffer from social anxiety to get cripplingly anxious and experience the fight-or-flight response which can be really disabling to their everyday lives. Social anxiety, simply put, is the fear of social situations.

Living with social anxiety can be frustrating and as with many things, change doesn’t happen overnight. You might feel like your mind has an ability to instantly jump a million steps into the worst-case scenario! Some of the signs of social anxiety are:

  • Finding yourself worrying about other people’s reactions
  • Experiencing extreme nervousness and anxiousness when taking part in social situations
  • Feeling really insecure about everything you say and do in social situations
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Feeling overly judged
  • Avoiding social situations all-together
  • Experiencing physical effects on your body during social situations such as sweating, increased heart rate, or rapid breathing.
  • Avoiding eye contact

If you think you might have social anxiety, we would always recommend seeking a professional diagnosis from your GP. Most importantly, remember that however isolated you might feel you are far from alone – social anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in the UK.

Overcoming Social Anxiety – 7 Tips

1. Share

Hiding or suppressing anxiety actually produces more anxiety. The most useful step is to share your experience with friends and family, or even talk about them online to us or someone else that you trust. Many people often feel ashamed of their anxiety and can be incredibly reluctant to share it. The media often leads people to believe that mental illness is a weakness, which makes people less likely to admit to themselves and others what they are going through. We all have mental health and it is reported that up to 1 in 3 of us, will at some point experience a mental health illness and it’s okay to talk about it.

2. Breathe

Your body is powerful. Learning the warning signs of when your anxiety flares up is important to help you take action; for some, this could be your body feeling tense and your mind feeling chaotic. Your body and especially your lungs can help. Breathing exercises can help you control your anxiety. Having a steady breath has a direct impact on your heart rate and, in turn, your thoughts. Your heart will slow down as your breath does and as your breathing and your heart rate slow down your mind and thoughts will too.

3. Thinking isn’t reality

As much as it feels like anxiety controls you, anxiety isn’t reality and you control your own reality. It’s important to remember that social anxiety feeds on thoughts that emphasise danger and negativity. Symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and sweating emerge from this kind of thinking. Luckily thinking is a habit and can, of course, be changed. The cure isn’t just positive thinking but realistic thinking. Try and examine your anxious thoughts such as ‘I am going to say something stupid’ they are often exaggerations of reality. Then try and produce thoughts that criticise and correct them.

4. Shift your attention

Anxiety has a way of grabbing your attention and turning it inward upon yourself, making you not only self-critical but suddenly noticing how your heartbeat has rapidly increased without your permission, meanwhile, you then suddenly feel yourself getting hotter, red in the face… sweaty… it feels like a domino effect that cannot be interrupted. But instead, try and focus your attention on what it is you may be doing, so if you are speaking to someone try and pay close attention to what they are saying rather than worrying about what the right thing is to say next.

5. Face your fears

Avoiding social situations, yes will make you feel better at that particular moment. But remember this is only a short-term solution which prevents you from learning how to cope and will make you avoid social situations in the future more. As out of reach as it might seem, facing your fears in small steps you will allow you to work towards the more challenging situations and will give you coping skills. If meeting new people makes you feel anxious you can begin by going to a party with a friend. You can then take the following step of introducing yourself to a new person. Remember, saying no will give you the same result each time. Saying yes, however frightening, means you’re taking a chance and living your life.

6. Stop trying to be perfect

It’s easy to forget that no one is perfect when we live in a world that aspires to achieve perfection. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone will like us nor does everyone need to. Ask yourself do YOU like everyone (slim chances)? It’s also often forgotten that it’s okay to make mistakes as it makes us human.

7. Play the Rejection Game

The purpose of the game is to gain some sort of rejection through a series of different challenges. The purpose of the game is to encourage you to see rejection differently and to face your fears whilst maintaining a certain element of control over the situation.

Beginner challenges

  • Ask somebody you don’t usually speak to at school for the time
  • Put your hand up in class to answer a question
  • Give somebody a compliment
  • Strike up a conversation with somebody outside of your friendship circle

Intermediate challenges

  • Ask for a discount at the checkout
  • Ask somebody to take a photo of you
  • Ask your strictest teacher for an extension on your homework, even if you don’t need one
  • Reach out to an old friend and ask if you can make up
  • Ask to go to the front of a queue
  • Fundraise for a charity (*cough* we’re a charity *cough*) and ask people you know to sponsor you

Expert challenges

  • Go to a restaurant and ask for a tour of the kitchen
  • Request a refill on a meal you’ve just eaten
  • Dance in public.

Don’t forget that there is always support available – whether you decide to access it online or offline. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to speak to somebody about social anxiety and/or bullying. Join our community to start a conversation about anxiety with others who have similar experiences…

More:

37% of People Develop Social Anxiety As a Result of Bullying 
The Long-Term Effects of Bullying 

We’ve all had friendships that have ended up a little pear-shaped and it’s unfortunate that most of the time, we all have to get burnt before we can spot a bad friend from a good one. We’ve pooled together our own experiences and come up with 15 of the most common signs that somebody isn’t your friend for the right reasons. If any of these apply to your friendships, we would encourage you to think twice about them and try to determine whether they are really a friend…

The 15 friendship signs

1. They only call when they want something

All friendships should be equal – which means that you should receive as much as you put in, it’s all based on reciprocation and mutuality. If you’re putting in more than you’re getting out, you should think twice about what they are asking from you.

2. The conversation is never equal

Do you find that you just spend your whole time focused on them when you’re hanging out? Yeah, that’s not cool – we all have problems and things we’d like to talk to somebody about.

3. They put you down or make fun of you in front of others

A definite no-no. Usually, people do this because they feel bad about themselves and want to use somebody else as a distraction. Draw a line through any friendships like this immediately.

4. You feel bad about yourself when you’ve spent time with them

Sometimes it’s difficult to analyse behaviour, but your emotions never lie. Friends should make you feel good, empowered and uplifted. If you leave them feeling like crap then you should probably re-evaluate the benefit you’re getting from the friendship. Some people, unfortunately, just like to bring others down.

5. They are aggressively competitive

It’s good to be a little competitive now and again, but like most things – you can have too much of a good thing. A friendship based on competitive behaviour is NEVER healthy or a true friendship.

6. They aren’t happy for you when good things happen

This is one of the most common tell-tale signs and it’s also based on competitive behaviour. A true friend will want to see you succeed and be happy.

7. They bring drama into your life

It’s usually the people who spend their time moaning about drama who are the ones causing it. You don’t need that negativity around you.

8. They bitch about you behind your back

An absolute no-no. Friendships need to be based on mutual respect and trust. Don’t put up with that crap.

9. Your relationship feels like it’s built on conditionality

This is likewise for all relationships in your life. You should feel like they are unconditional and not based on you being or acting in a certain way.

10. Your friends bail on you

Sometimes it happens and that’s fine, but if it’s consistent then it obviously shows that your friend is unreliable and much less invested in the friendship than you are. Maybe it’s your turn to bail on them, permanently.

11. They use your secrets against you and share them

This is malicious and absolutely nothing a true friend would ever do.

Are you looking to break up with a toxic friend? Here are our steps to breaking up with a toxic friend.

12. They are a bad influence and make you do things that get you into trouble

Nip this in the bud before you end up getting yourself into trouble. Friends don’t make friends do bad things… or text when drunk, but we’ll turn a blind eye to that one… for now.

13. They talk about their other friends behind their back

If they do this, the chances are, they do it to you too. It’s fine to have a moan occasionally, but anything malicious would probably indicate that they aren’t as genuine as they’d like you to believe.

14. They bail when you need them the most

So there are friends, who are, well… friends and there are friends who are still your friends at 3am on a Wednesday morning in the midst of your breakdown. The latter are your friends for life and it’s important to know that you can rely on a few select individuals to be by your side through thick and thin.

15. They exclude you from things with mutual friends

If it’s on purpose and happening often, despite you bringing it up then we suggest you create some distance. It is important to remember that sometimes it can happen accidentally so try and talk to them about it before jumping to conclusions.


It’s not me, it’s you: breaking up

Firstly, speak to somebody about it, make sure your response is rational. If it is, then deal with it, accept that it isn’t your fault and mentally move on.

Once you’ve done this, you have 1 of 2 options:

Let the friendship naturally fade out

Stop making arrangements, stop replying and distance yourself from them. Eventually, you’ll become increasingly distant until you’re officially no longer friends on Facebook.

Or…

Confront them

There are 2 schools of thought surrounding this: confrontation can be good if you’d like to hopefully try to resolve things, but on the opposite end, confrontation can be incredibly empowering if you’ve felt particularly suppressed or upset by somebody. Arguments can be healthy, provided that they don’t put anybody at risk and won’t make situations worse. We’d recommend a mediator to help keep an argument balanced.


Still Unsure? Talk to us…


More articles on friendship:

It’s World Mental Health Day! We know that talking about yours can be rough and pretty scary, so we have come up with this quick guide about how to talk to your friends about mental health.

Talking to your pals about anything remotely serious can sometimes be a bit of a tall order, especially when you guys are pretty much living life in your own personal sitcom. But sometimes, when the laughter stops and you go off home, some in your friendship group (or even you) might be having a pretty tough time.

That’s why we think it’s pretty important that everyone be able to have a chat with their buddies about mental health – so that everyone has someone to go to. We know it’s awkward though, whether you go to them or they come to you, which is why we put this speedy guide together on how to do it.

If they come to you…

1) Don’t judge

This one might sound obvious, but lots of us can quite easily slip into thinking “what do they have to be depressed about?” or “they’re just being dramatic”, even when it’s a close friend that is coming to us. Try to reprogramme these thoughts when someone comes to you by thinking about how hard it must have been for them to come to you and what you can do to help. It might be that you or someone else is going through stuff too, but that doesn’t make what they are dealing with any easier. Remember that this person has confided in you because they trust you and they might just want someone to talk with now.

2) Just listen

If your mate approaches you with something they want to talk about and you’re not sure what to say, just lend an ear and listen. You don’t have to know everything about everything, and whilst it is super nice that you want to help, telling them to do the wrong thing could make a sticky situation worse.

If you really want to help, you could suggest that you both do some research about the next steps to take or find someone who can help. Alternatively, you could just be honest and say “I’m not sure how to help, but I’ll always be here to listen.”

3) Don’t make it all about you

Sometimes you can use your own personal experience to help someone else and that’s fine. But if you’re just changing the subject to talk about yourself when a friend is trying to talk, this is pretty unhelpful for them. If you can genuinely relate to what they’re going through then there’s no harm in telling them that, but always be mindful of the fact that they chose to confide in you.

If you go to them…

1) It doesn’t have to be face to face

Talking face to face is the best way of communicating for some people, for others, it can be literally the worst thing in the world. Instead, try sending a friend a quick message explaining what you are dealing with – you might find it much easier to talk about their feelings over text or by writing it down because it gives you more time to think about what you’re going to say. You could even start a group convo with some trusted mates and create a space where you can all talk about your wellbeing in a group chat.

2) Keep it casual

If you’re worried about a mate or want to talk a friend about your own mental health, you can do it in a casual way to avoid things getting too intense. You could bring it up when you’re playing a game or doing something else so that it’s not the main topic of conversation. This kind of conversation is great because it normalises talking about mental health. The more we talk about it, the less stigmatised it becomes! Here are some things you could do together whilst talking:

  • Go for a walk
  • Play a video game
  • Do something creative like drawing or painting
  • Do each other’s hair/makeup
  • Go to the gym

3) Give this a read

We know that having the conversation about something big in your past or what’s going on in your life can be really difficult, and being worried about getting it right can be a huge added source of stress. We put together this list of tips on how to open up about your past to someone in your life, and it should give you a bit of guidance on how to do it right.

Most importantly…

Always take them seriously

If they ever say that they’re feeling suicidal, or words to that effect, it’s really, really important that you take them seriously. You can help them by:

  • Notifying a trusted adult ASAP (parent, older sibling, teacher, family member)
  • Encouraging them to speak to someone at The Samaritans. You can speak to someone over email, on the phone, in person, or even by post 🐌 – find out more here or call 116 123. If they don’t want to speak to anyone, you could call on their behalf to get some advice.

Look out for each other

The best thing to do is just look out for each other everyday. Know the signs. If your friend is acting a bit off, it can be as simple as just asking them ‘are you okay?’.

If you or your friends are struggling and need someone to talk to, head over to the Ditch the Label community and we will listen.


Related:

For more information on talking about mental health, check out Time to Change 

So the most magical time of the year is finally upon us and here at Ditch the Label, we couldn’t be more excited. But, we know it can be a bit of a rubbish time, especially if all your pals are jetting off for some winter sun or heading to the other side of the country to see family they only see once a year. Well, we think that we should always be able to laugh at ourselves when we get stuck in situations like this, which is why we put together this list of struggles only you will understand if you’re the last man standing over the festive break. 

1) You think it’s going to be all fun and games… 

Currently picturing hot chocolate, christmas films, pigs in blankets, gaming tournaments, the new Star Wars movie. Just literally everything that could ever bring you and the gang joy. 

2) …Until you and your pals share your calendars… 

So it looks like you will be Billy No Mates until early 2020 *plays Lonely this Christmas on a loop.

3) …So the only games you’ll be having is Ker-plunk with your parents for the fiftieth time 

Ohhh nooooo the balls all fell down the hooooole again. Oh well, you tried. You can play Rocket League now right? 

4) No one is around to discuss all the epic Christmas TV specials with

All you want for Christmas is someone to watch the Gavin and Stacey special with, and are you going to get it? Nope. 

5) And there is no one around to quote all your fave crimbo movies with either

“BUDDY THE ELF, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR?” (they said to the empty room.) 

6) Don’t even get us started on the horror show that will be your New Years Eve

Watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny with your parents whilst you polish off the rest of the Roses, in bed before 11pm with a cup of tea. Any other day it might be wonderful, but when it feels like the whole planet is getting their groove on, it’s not the one. 

7) But it’s still the best time of the year 

Christmas can be a bit rubbish for some, but it is also pretty epic. If you are stuck on your lonesome, don’t let it ruin your crimbo. Hang with the family, get your shopping done, do some solo festive fun stuff like baking up an entire gingerbread city. Most importantly, be happy. And if in doubt, always remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

For daily inspiration, motivation, LOLs and love, follow us on Instagram @ditchthelabel

The thing about mates is sometimes, they aren’t the best. Sometimes, friends can get wrapped up on what’s going on with them and become a bit distant and it can be hard to know if you should even try to help them, let alone how to help them. Plus, when the nights draw in and everyone decides to stay at home with hot chocolate and the dog, sometimes it’s even pretty hard to tell the friend that’s become isolated from the friends that are just pure chillin’. Well, in order to tell if they are going through something, take a quick read of this. Feel like you want to help them? Read on. 

1) They haven’t become distant to hurt you

When a pal becomes distant or isolated, it can be easy to think that the reason is simply that they no longer want to hang out with you. But, when someone is going through something, they can withdraw from the people around them. It’s important to remember that they aren’t doing this to hurt you, and they aren’t doing this because they suddenly hate you. 

2) They might just have a lot going on right now 

Life is always about the ups and downs. Sometimes, when we go through a particularly rough patch, we kind of go back to what is familiar and comfortable for all of us, and spend more and more time alone. 

3) Try reaching out in a casual way first like over Whatsapp 

Talking about what’s going on with us is always a tough one. Try reaching out to them in a casual way first like through Whatsapp or Instagram, just to see if they want to talk. They might not want to, but the action of checking in with them is enough to make them feel like they are not alone for now. 

4) Don’t force them to do things 

So jumping straight on the accelerator might seem like a quick fix for getting them back into the swing of things, but it might not be the best idea. For one, they might have isolated themselves for loads of reasons, and one of them could be anxiety or another issue that makes being around lots of people difficult. Check out our article on how to help a friend who has social anxiety for some tips and tricks here

5) Be understanding 

Like we mentioned above, jumping in the deep end might not be the best idea. But even asking them over to yours or out for a walk might end up with a resounding ‘no’. The more someone rejects us like this, it’s super easy to take it personally, but the important thing to remember is that helping most people takes time and patience. Take a step back, take care of you, and then try again a little bit further down the line. 

6) Suggest having a chill meet up and chat about what’s going on 

Ease them into social stuff by asking them for a chill coffee and a chat about what’s been going on with them. Let them choose a space that they feel comfortable in, whether that’s your front room, in the park or in their favourite cafe place, and let them get to talking about it at their own pace. 

7) Read these ideas on how to start the awkward conversations

We know that starting a conversation with anyone about something intense can be difficult. We’ve got you covered though. Give this article a read about how to have a conversation about mental health with someone, because we know it can be really uncomfortable.

Need some confidential advice? Talk to one of our trained Digital Mentors here.

1) They get stuck on the negative side of things

If someone in your life is being overwhelmingly negative about stuff that’s going in their lives, they probably need a helping hand to see the brighter side. Sometimes, if there is a lot going on with us, we might only want to stew on the negative stuff and when this happens, finding the positive becomes almost impossible. If someone is being overwhelmingly negative about what’s going on, reach out and see if they need some cheering up. Chances are, just the gesture of this will make them feel a bit more connected and cared for.

2) They might try really hard to chat when you see them, even if they have nothing much to say

You might think they are just waffling for the hell of it, but when someone feels lonely or like they need a friend, they might just be talking because they really haven’t had the opportunity to say much to anyone at all recently. 

3) They might be spending a little too much time on social media

The thing with social media is that it really isn’t all that social for a lot of us. Sure, the group chat is great, but the rest of it is actually kinda isolating. If someone feels a bit lonely and like they need someone, they might be spending a lot of time on social media because they want to feel connected to something. But watching stories or liking photos doesn’t necessarily mean they are OK, and it actually might be making them feel worse. 

4) You might not hear from them a lot 

This might seem like a bit of a contradiction. Like, if you’re feeling lonely, why would you spend so much time alone? Well it could be that a few symptoms of depression are coming on. Maybe they don’t want to feel like a burden to you and your other pals, and so the only solution in their head is to stay away. They might turn down a lot of offers to hang out in big groups of people as well, which we know can be frustrating when you’re trying to help. Check out this article on how to help a friend who’s isolated themselves. 

5) They might tell a few half truths 

Obviously lying is not a great trait to have in a friend, but sometimes people tell a few half truths when stuff isn’t going great for them. Whether it’s to escape what’s happening, feel better about it or even just get a little bit of love and attention from those close to them, people do it. The important thing is that these are not hurting anyone and that someone speaks to them about how damaging it can be if they carry on with this kind of behaviour. 

6) Overreacting to cancelling plans

If a mate of yours is feeling lonely or isolated, they might really overreact to you cancelling on them. We aren’t saying you should have to do something you can’t or don’t want to all the time, but it’s important to remember that they are probably getting mad at you because it might be the only plans they have had in a while and need someone to talk to or hang out with

Need to talk to someone? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors in confidence here.

For us, Halloween is pretty much the best night of the year. Dressing up, scary movies and loads of trick or treating chocolate (even when you are way too old to be pounding the pavements asking for sweets). The thing about it is it can get pretty expensive for most of us on a budget, especially when the costumes are crazy and the celebrations are many. That’s why we’ve thrown this list of last minute Halloween ideas together that are so cheap it’s actually scary. 

1) The most obvious one of course – scary movie marathon 

In our mind, it’s not Halloween without a movie marathon. If the classics like The Shining, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street don’t feel like your thing, why not do a viewing of the worst scary movies ever made. Sorority Row? Hell yeah.

2) Throw a pumpkin carving party

Make a day of it and head to your nearest pumpkin patch to pick your own, or just pop down to Tesco and grab a butternut squash. How ever you decide to do it, pumpkin (or squash) carving is a great way to get your spooky fill without breaking the bank. 

3) Do a budget costume competition 

With prizes for the worst dressed, most imaginative, and weirdest material, this could be a pretty hilarious way to celebrate the return of winter. Expect A LOT of toilet roll mummies and bed sheet ghosts.  

4) Cook a Halloween themed feast

Hit up some recipes on the internet for the cutest (or most disgusting looking) Halloween treats and get your pals over to eat it all in front of the Horror channel. 

5) Tell ghost stories 

This is a total classic. Get the torches out, put them under your chin like you did when you were at camp, and see who can tell the spookiest story. That’s how Frankenstein got written so it might make you a millionaire one day. 

6) Go old school with your Halloween party 

Make like your seven years old again and get the squad together for the most vintage halloween party you can possibly have. We are talking apple bobbing, we are talking pumpkin carving, we are talking Rocky Horror and eating those huge pick and mix bags of trick or treating chocolate.

Feel like you need some help getting over your fears? Take a look at our blog for help defeating all the big things you are scared of