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Learning a language

For many people, learning a new language can be a useful distraction technique when you’re feeling low or anxious. Learning something new, particularly a language, requires concentration so it can allow you to take your mind off unwanted thoughts. As well as being a great distraction, learning a new language can be very satisfying and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can help to boost your mood.

Some people enjoy learning a foreign language as learning foreign words and learning to translate it occupies your brain whereas some people may enjoy learning sign language as it distracts both your brain and hands. This can be very useful for people struggling with harmful urges.

Sign language can also be a very helpful skill for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) if they are overwhelmed by senses as it provides a silent and peaceful way of communicating.

There are many videos on YouTube that can teach you how to learn sign language. You can learn a variety of languages for free on Duolingo.

What young people have told us:

“I think it helped because the activity took away my mind from negative thoughts and it taught me to let loose and have fun. It was also fun doing a new activity that I have never done before.'

'I have found learning British sign language to be a great distraction when I’m feeling low or anxious. Learning something new gives me a great feeling of accomplishment. Learning sign language has also helped me meet new people in a supportive community who share a common interest." 

“One of the unique features of languages is the regularity in grammar. Familiarising yourself with the patterns and rules in grammar is a great way to take your mind away from the stressful things in life.

"For me personally, when things become tough and difficult to manage, learning and practicing grammar certainly makes me feel like I have gained some of the control I feel I am missing.”

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.