Dealing with self-criticism

Too many of us are quietly, privately, hard on ourselves. We walk around with an inner critic, telling us we’re not ‘good enough’ and never amount to anything.

Sometimes we feel so much pressure to achieve, self-criticism seems like a necessity. Lockdown has kept us cooped up and in many cases with more free time. We may feel especially guilty if we’ve not been ‘productive’.

We’ve all seen people who ‘achieved’ despite the difficulties of the pandemic. Marathons run in backyards, new languages learned, what seems like hundreds of books read. It’s difficult not to compare ourselves and put pressure on ourselves too.

There’s a myth we can hang on to that a harsh inner critic is useful to get where we want in life.

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:

Mental health apps

The App Store or Google Play host thousands of apps claiming to help people with their mental health.

With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, or which to trust.

What are the best mental health apps?

At Jigsaw, we are often asked which are the best apps for anxiety, or what ones we would recommend. Research and evidence are important parts of our work so we can really stand behind what we say.

To ensure we recommend safe apps to use, we embarked on a review project with funding from ESB Energy for Generations,. The aim was to identify apps that might be helpful to young people in managing their mental health.

Getting used to self-guided study

Furthering your education or training after secondary school can also be a really exciting time.

This period of transition from being in the school system to becoming more independent can take some adjustment. Self-motivation is often needed to engage with this way of learning.

In this article, you will find:

Patience in a time of uncertainty

When life throws curve balls, we may find ourselves becoming impatient, wanting life to return to the way it was. We might want things to progress more quickly, or at least know what’s going to happen next.

There are times when our lives can take unexpected turns.

You or a family member may lose your job, illness might challenge your expectations of yourself or something you were looking forward to doesn’t work out the way you anticipated.

Unusual circumstances can cause feelings of impatience and stress to increase. You may find yourself overthinking things, feeling easily irritated by others, or less like yourself. Everyday problems can seem harder to solve.

My One Good Adult

In Jigsaw and UCD’s My World Survey in 2012, young people were asked if there was a special adult in their lives they could turn to when they were in need.

71% of young people had at least one adult they could talk to when they needed support. Here we asked Jigsaw Youth Advisory Panel volunteers who their One Good Adult was. Who is your one good adult?

Using technology to support your mental health

We hear a lot about the downside of technology, and how we should try to spend less time on it. But the pros of technology have also become obvious.

Our need for connection and fun is still clear. Though at present, our usual routines have been disrupted and everything is a little bit out of sorts.

But we have to adapt to the way the world is now and reach out in ways that we can. We need to restructure how we do the things that help our mental health, and technology can help.

Jigsaw clinicians Vicky, Sarah, Valerija and Aoife discuss how they use technology to support their mental health during this time.

Exercise, mental health and social distancing

Exercise is good for our physical and mental health. It has been really important to look after all aspects of our health during the pandemic.

For some of us, the word exercise can be off putting. However, it simply means to be active. It doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or taking part in competitive team sports.

We can view exercise as any activity that gets our body moving, increases our heart rate and breathing. Read more about how exercise can impact mental health.

However we choose to be active, it’s really important we remember to follow the guidelines on social distancing.

Ask Jigsaw: Coping with Coronavirus health anxiety

How to cope with health anxiety? I’m always such a hypochondriac, and I regularly experience bad anxiety over symptoms I convince myself I have. With Coronavirus rampant at the moment, I’m feeling worse than ever. I’m not sleeping and my mind is constantly on whether I’m coughing or if I’m feeling a bit warmer than usual. Honestly just feeling so scared and drained, I really don’t know how to cope :/


You are not on your own with feeling anxious about Covid-19. It’s hard to switch off from the news and information about escalating rates of infection. It is natural to turn our attention to ourselves and our loved ones. We may worry about getting sick, particularly if we have previously been anxious about our health.

Ask Jigsaw: Scrolling for Coronavirus information

I am finding it really difficult to stop scrolling on my phone cos I need information about what’s going on. I want to take a break, but I don’t want to miss out on any updates. Plus I want to stay in touch with my friends, but that can be drama too. Some of them are freaking out and some just think the whole thing is a joke and are going out anyway. I don’t know whether to just turn my phone off altogether or how do I limit it?


Hello Starfish,

A lot of young people joining the Jigsaw online group chat are also noticing a change in what they’re seeing on their phone, and how it’s affecting them. There is a direct link between the time we spend online and our mental health.