Feeling down

We all feel down now and again. We can feel tired or listless or just ‘meh’ about everything. With the effects of the pandemic still around, it’s understandable to feel down at the moment. 

Feeling low or feeling down is not pleasant, but it is very common. In fact, it is one of the biggest reasons young people come to Jigsaw.

In this article, you will find:


Loneliness and isolation

We are social creatures and need to feel we belong.

Being lonely is like being hungry or thirsty. It’s our bodies telling us we’re not getting the basic human need of social interaction. We’ve had a strange few years, and physical interaction can still relatively difficult and unfamiliar to us.

To help during this time this article covers:

24-hour gaming marathon for youth mental health

On Saturday 24 July, Jigsaw, the youth mental health charity, is hosting an exciting 24-hour live stream gaming marathon to raise money to support young people’s mental health.

Raise Your Game will involve lots of gaming fun and challenges, as well as some surprise special guests.

The pandemic has been a particularly tough time for young people. For many, gaming has been a great escape to ease their daily stresses and anxieties. Previous research by Jigsaw has found that almost a quarter of young people use gaming as a way to relieve anxieties.

Mike Edgar, Jigsaw’s Youth Advocate for Kerry tells us how gaming affects his life here.



Sleep and mental health

We all need our sleep. Regular, long stretches of undisturbed quality sleep is essential for our mental as well as physical health.

“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day”, according to Professor Matthew Walker, neuroscientist, and author of ‘Why We Sleep’.

Many of the young people who attend Jigsaw face-to-face services report sleep difficulties as one of the issues they are facing.

In this article, you will learn:

How much sleep do young people need?

Our sleeping rhythms and needs change as we get older. Although we may feel we can manage with a certain amount of sleep, there are recommended times for overall health.

Teenagers need between eight to ten hours sleep a night, though they are more likely to get around seven. Adults require a bit less; between eight and nine hours. These guidelines may seem ambitious, or even unrealistic. But sleep is essential for your health and for cognitive functions like learning.

Research has proven when school start times are put forward to allow students to get more sleep, it leads to an increase in academic performance. In a 2018 study, a Seattle High School delayed its start time by an hour and saw a 4.5% increase in the median grades of the students. It also saw an improvement in attendance.

It is possible to sleep too much (over ten hours regularly). Find out the right amount of sleep for you within these guidelines to feel rested when you wake.

Relaxation for mental health

How many times have you heard the words ‘just relax’. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

It can also be quite annoying to have someone telling you to relax, when there seems to be a lot on and out of your control.

But often, life can be so busy we forget to take a break and step back. It’s not unusual to have several things on our mind all at once.

Things like exams, family, friends, finances, and the future can feel overwhelming. Feeling stressed or tense can be a signal to take a break and have some downtime. Relaxation is important for our mental health.

In this article, you will find:

Sarah’s story: Managing exam stress

Sarah* contacted Jigsaw about four months before her Leaving Cert exams. She had been feeling anxious for a while, but in the last few weeks she’d had two panic attacks.

Her main worry was that she’d get a panic attack in an exam. “I have to get rid of this anxiety now”, she told the clinician, “before my mocks”.

Identifying triggers for stress

Sarah’s clinician wanted to know more about the anxiety and panic attacks. When did they happen? Was there a trigger? They discovered Sarah’s panic attacks happened just after Sarah’s teachers mentioned study plans or expected study hours in class.

When her history teacher said, “you all should have covered this section in your revision plan already”, Sarah felt her heart beating fast and chest getting tight. She rushed to the toilet because she felt she couldn’t breathe. She barely remembers the rest of the day.

The Jigsaw clinician helped Sarah realise her panic attacks were connected to worries she was too far behind on study. She thought she’d never be able to catch up.

This connected to deeper worries of failing her exams, being unable to get into college or ever getting a job. That would lead her to be a “complete failure” in life. The clinician asked her to step back, look at the facts and be realistic about what could happen. They discussed strategies for managing exam stress.

Together they looked at Sarah’s schedule. The clinician asked Sarah to draw out her weekly calendar. She coloured in the hours she spent studying as blue, with different colours for other activities. When she was finished, Sarah’s waking hours were almost completely blue.

Five a day for your mental health

Based on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing‘ report 2008 by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), here are five things you can do daily for your mental health.

The UK Government commissioned the NEF to develop a simple set of evidence-based actions for people to improve their wellbeing. NEF drew on a very broad base of research for their recommendations, from psychological to economic literature.