Understanding negative thoughts and feelings

It’s often useful to recognise that a lot of our fears or negative thoughts about ourselves are events happening internally in our heads rather than in ‘reality’ around us, though they feel very real to us when we experience them. Becoming aware of them, noticing them or analysing them a bit can help us to prevent them from taking over, shaping the way we see ourselves or affecting our self-esteem. You could try asking yourself when these thoughts started and looking for any triggers:

When I sat down to think about it, I noticed that I hated the way I looked much more when I was following certain accounts on Instagram. After unfollowing them or spending less time on there, I felt better about myself because my idea of beauty became less unattainable.


There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.

Did this activity help your mental wellbeing?

If yes, why do you think it helped?

What would you say to other young people who are thinking of trying this?


Training for Senior Mental Health Leads starts this month.

Sign up with the Anna Freud Centre, the UK’s leading mentally healthy schools charity.

DfE grant funding is available to cover the cost of our Senior Mental Health Lead training.

Find out more

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