Growing up is tough, especially when everybody else seems to be in a better place than you. But take it from us, it’s all an illusion and you’re definitely doing better than you think you are.

Here are 18 ways to prove it.

1) You have a couple of really great friends.

Okay so the 300+ friends you have on social media may suggest otherwise, but friendships really aren’t about quantity. The saying is true that you can count your close friends on one hand.

Quantity is irrelevant to the sense of closeness, acceptance and happiness you experience with true friendship. So, stop striving for popularity and feel great about those amazing friends you have standing by your side in real-time instead.

2) You’re working towards something.

Having a dream helps you see beyond your current situation. Working towards a goal shows to yourself and others that you’ve got direction and purpose.

You are the creator of your own dreams, which have no limits, so design a plan of action that will enable you to achieve them (even if that goal seems like a million years away right now!).

3) You’re making people happy.

Have you made someone smile today? Okay, so it may not seem like a big deal but by bringing laughter and happiness to the lives of others, you’ve made the world a better place. By going out of your way to help people you can be sure you’re doing pretty well already!

Remember that successful people are always looking to help others. You don’t have to be a giver all the time but by striving to be a better person each day and working hard on causes you believe in, you’re not only improving the lives of others, but you’re building your own self-esteem too.

4) You have time to do what you enjoy.

Whether it’s listening to music, writing a blog or watching Netflix in your onesie, having the time to pursue whatever it is you enjoy doing is a privilege so make the most of it!

5) You’re getting to know what you don’t want.

It’s okay to take time to figure out what you want out of life. When it feels like everyone else around you is striving for the perfect relationship or the ultimate career it can be difficult to remember you don’t have to base your life on these people’s schedules.

In fact, discovering who you are by process of elimination and finding out what you don’t want in life, can be a really powerful way of determining what makes you truly happy.

6) You ask questions.

Being sceptical sometimes and doubting the world around you doesn’t make you miserable and annoying. In fact, questioning yourself and challenging ideas demonstrates your self-awareness and openness to growth.

Looking for better ways to do things shows your ability to be both objective and reflexive which will help you solve problems and move forwards in life. You’re already awesome enough to know not to follow the crowd or accept the status quo.

lady, girl, looking upwards, laughing, field, grass, sunset

7) You don’t let others stop you.

Even though it feels like everyone else disagrees with you right now, feel proud that you’ve stuck by whatever it is you feel strongly about. By courageously walking down your own path you’ve shown that you can listen to your intuition and refuse to let the judgments of others hold you back.

8) You have internet access.

So many people around the globe still aren’t connected to the internet but you have the privilege of being able to speak with and get support from individuals all over the world. It’s pretty awesome to know you have the potential to change someone’s life without ever meeting them.

The internet gives you a platform to express yourself, share your thoughts and connect with like-minded people. So make the most of your internet access which opens you up to infinite amounts of knowledge as well as helping you to achieve your goals and make informed decisions.

9) You’ve been rejected.

Life’s a journey which won’t always go your way. But each rejection is an opportunity even though it may not feel like one at the time. When one door closes another one opens and we reckon this one will be even better for you than the first.

10) You’re different to how you were a year ago.

Reflecting upon the good, the bad and the ugly of the last year and the wisdom it’s all given you just highlights how far you’ve come. Being aware of the ways you’ve changed, for better and worse, allows you to move forward. Some people get stuck in their ways and never change which can prevent them from progressing. But life’s about evolving so celebrate all those changes you’ve gone through!


11) You know how to look after no. 1.

Knowing how to take care of yourself may sound simple but you’d be surprised by how many people get this wrong. Feel great about the fact that you already know what relaxes you, which person you should to turn to for some TLC and how many hours sleep you need at night.

Everyone’s different, so getting to understand your own needs is really important and this self-awareness will help you keep going strong right through your life.

12) You’re afraid of something.

Okay, so we certainly don’t want you to live in fear but a little bit of adrenalin can be good for you. So many people go through life without ever leaving their comfort zone but by allowing yourself to be afraid you’ll be able to realise your potential and discover what you need to do most.

13) You’ve lost relationships.

Letting go of that relationship you thought was gonna last forever was heartbreaking. But love is a lesson and letting someone go that wasn’t right for you, is an opportunity. Losing a relationship means that you’ve opened yourself up to the possibility of something else being there.

grainy, black, white, road, hills, cars, america

14) You don’t fall for the latest craze.

Not falling for the hype is definitely something to feel good about. We live in a society where many of us have forgotten to stop and ask ourselves why it is that we actually want to buy that latest ‘it’ thing before we part with our cash.

People just think they should buy something because everyone else is buying it, but you haven’t let rampant materialism take control. You know to own your possessions and not to let them own you.

15) You’ve made mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect and making mistakes forces us to grow. We’ve all made the wrong choice at some point and have been hurt by others too. Although we can’t justify those actions, it’s what happens next that counts.

So embrace the lessons your mistakes have provided you with and remember that they are no indication of your future potential. Don’t blame yourself for the bad things that have happened to you either, you can’t erase them and they were out of your control.

However, you can reclaim that control now by taking responsibility for your present. By choosing to write your own life story you’re refusing to be a victim, which is really powerful.

You can’t change your past but you can change your future and you are so much more than the bad things you’ve done or that have happened to you.

16) You’re still hurting.

Never suffer in silence. If you’ve had a negative experience, such as being bullied or perhaps you’ve lost someone close to you; always seek support. Whether that means opening up to a friend, talking to us here at Ditch the Label, or working through difficult emotions with a counsellor, remember that you’re not alone.

But still hurting is natural and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It reminds you that you’re fully alive and healing. It’s not feeling any emotions at all that would be the real tragedy.

17) You’re learning.

Whatever it is you’re learning about; having something that intrigues you enough to explore it is worth celebrating. Whether it’s life on mars, politics and society or working for equality, delve into whatever interests you. Learning more each day puts you ahead of people who already think they know everything.

18) You see outside ‘planet you’.         

You don’t need to travel half the globe to achieve a broader world-view. By engaging with current affairs, going out of your way to speak to others and learning about cultures outside of your own shows how you’re already doing everything you can do to open your mind.

Take some time to appreciate your own modesty and genuine interest in the world which gives meaning to your life and strengthens your ability to relate to others. You already know that ignorance isn’t bliss and you can use your knowledge of the world to help the people that need it most and influence social change.


Did you know we have a community for people to anonymously discuss the things they are struggling with?

Be it bullying, mental health, identity or relationship problems. We provide a safe, open place for you to say what you need. You can join it for free here: community.ditchthelabel.org/

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Anger can be a useful emotion because it tells us when something is unfair or unjust.

We’re often told to hide our anger or to squash it down, but no emotion is a bad one, and we can’t turn them off.

Instead, we should see anger as motivation to try and address the unfairness we’re experiencing – but we need to do it in a productive way. So how do we deal with anger?

Although we all experience anger differently, it tends to follow the same general path. We start off calm, but then something triggers a feeling of anger in us and we become bothered. If we aren’t able to deal with that, it can escalate to anger and eventually can result in a pretty dramatic eruption.

So, to avoid an eruption, here’s how you can reprogramme your anger into something positive.

angry teenager, sitting on a dock, how to deal with anger

Reprogramming Your Anger

1. Recognise your trigger and how you’re feeling

Ask yourself questions

  • Am I angry or is it a different feeling?
  • What has caused it?

Then check your body for

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweaty palms
  • Hot face
  • Clenched jaw

Check your mind for

  • Irritation
  • Erratic thoughts
  • Clouded thinking

Then check your behaviour

  • Are you acting as you would if you were calm?

2. Pause the escalation for a moment so you can reassess

  • Control your breathing 
  • Count to ten
  • Go for a walk
  • Put it in perspective: “will this matter tomorrow? next week? next year?”
angry cat, ditch the label

Want to find out more about why we get angry? Read this.

3. Change course by reacting to the problem in a different way

Slow it down

Give yourself and the other person time to explain your views. Pause the conversation if you need to.

Write it as a letter

Write a letter or email explaining how you feel

Focus on ‘I’

Change it from ‘you’ focused to ‘I’ focused. Instead of ‘You don’t care about me’, say ‘I miss spending time with you’

Let it go

Accept that sometimes things won’t change

4. Channel your excess energy into something that benefits you

  • Exercise
  • Write a journal
  • Get creative
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Draw
  • Take it out on a cushion
  • Write a letter to your MP
  • Organise an assembly at school
  • Campaign for change
  • Run a fundraiser

For help and support, talk to our online community here.

Feeling sad is something that happens to all of us. Your football team loses, you fall out with a friend, or something much worse happens, and it can feel like a smile is a distant memory. But what is sadness, and what actually happens to us when we feel sad? 

What does serotonin do? 

So this tricky little neurotransmitter in our brains is what is responsible for us feeling sad, called serotonin. A neurotransmitter essentially carries signals around our brain that controls how we feel. So, serotonin’s job is to deliver emotions and carry messages about our mood, and it’s often labelled as the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. It also transmits signals which help wounds to heal, and which help our digestive system to function normally.

We all have an evolutionary response to stuff that happens with us, to fight, flight or freeze. Serotonin is responsible for the freeze response in humans.

So, this is why we get depression? 

There is a definite link between low serotonin levels and sadness and depression. But having less serotonin doesn’t always mean you get depression. The brains of teenagers typically have a little less serotonin than adults, which means it’s harder to process emotions, and which is probably why we all feel a bit crap when we’re teenagers. 

Why do we want to increase it? 

Even though it might seem like we don’t have a huge amount of control over what goes in our brains at times, increasing serotonin levels is important if we have a deficiency given its link to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Doing things to naturally boost serotonin will boost our general mood and having good levels of serotonin also means we literally heal from wounds faster, so it’s basically a super power. 

It’s important to know though that being sad, or feeling the effects of depression, is not a sign of weakness. If you need to talk to someone, reach out to our community here for free confidential support and advice. 

How do we do it then? 

  • Exercise every day – it boosts serotonin in your brain and some studies have demonstrated that exercise is at least equally effective at increasing available serotonin as serotonin-enhancing medications
  • Get your gut healthy – Much of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut 
  • Watch what you eat – Foods high in simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, pastries, pretzels, and popcorn, typically increase insulin levels and allow more tryptophan (the natural amino acid building block for serotonin) to enter the brain, where the brain cells can convert it to serotonin. 
  • Light – some research suggests that serotonin tends to be lower after winter and higher in summer and fall. Serotonin’s known impact on mood helps support a link between this finding and the occurrence of seasonal affective disorder and mental health concerns linked to the seasons.

Want to know more? Here’s some things you should definitely be reading right now!

What actually makes us happy? There are lots of things we think will make us happy, but that kind of happiness doesn’t seem to last very long most of the time. One of the reasons for this, is a brain feature called the Hedonic Treadmill. The Hedonic Treadmill is when we feel happy or sad for a time, but then return to feeling normal. So, even though we think earning lots of money and buying things will make us happy, we can’t buy happiness, and increasing happiness doesn’t necessarily come from working hard. 

For example, when you get a new phone it can make you feel really good. But it doesn’t take long before we get used to it, and eventually just take it for granted.

There are several hormones that are responsible for happiness, and these are endorphins, which are increased with exercise, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. 

Luckily, it’s easy to increase our general sense of happiness, by doing a few simple things…

5 Tricks to Being Happier

  1. Having meaningful connections to the people and the world around you
  2. Learning new things, and always challenging yourself to improve
  3. Living an active lifestyle and keeping physically active
  4. Taking notice of the good things going on in your life by keeping a gratitude journal at the end of every day
  5. Giving time, money and attention to other people

Happiness is a tricky thing, but doing these things every day, you will start to see your general feelings of happiness increase. 

Feel like you need to increase your self-esteem? Read this.

Do you feel like you need to feel happier? Maybe talk to someone? You can reach out to our support community here for confidential help and advice.

Why do we get angry? 

Take a moment to think about a time when you were really angry.

What was happening in your body? Maybe your face felt hot? Or your palms started sweating?

When we feel an emotion, it’s not just happening in our head – our whole body experiences it.

Our mind is constantly in communication with our body. Together, they are sharing information about whether we are safe, or in danger. If our mind senses a threat, it can start a stress response which you may have heard of…

It’s called Fight, Flight or Freeze.

As soon as our brain sense threat, it floods us with hormones to make us do one of three things:

  1. Fight the danger
  2. Flee (run away from) the danger
  3. Freeze on the spot, so we don’t draw attention to ourselves

If our brain decides we need to fight the threat, our heart rate increases and our blood pressure rises. This ensures that our muscles have a good blood supply.

Our muscles tense, our face flushes, and we speak more loudly – a way to intimidate the danger and alert it to the fact that we’re ready to fight.

In prehistoric times, this gave us the best chance of escaping from serious danger, and it has been our body’s natural response for the whole of human history.

How Do I Stop Myself From Getting Angry?

Stopping ourselves from getting angry can be a pretty difficult task, especially if we feel like the situation is asking for us to respond that way. But often, we can overreact to things, or what might be small appears larger, and we can get angry for little reason. It’s then what we do when we are angry that can have big consequences for us and those around us. 

Here are some super fast top tips to calm down: 

  • Pause, and breathe
  • Go for a walk or remove yourself from the situation
  • Take it out on a cushion if you feel you have to
  • Channel your energy into something constructive – do some exercise, write in a journal, do something creative that will help you take your mind off the situation

For more, read this toolkit on how to reprogramme your anger.

Am I good enough? 

Comparing ourselves to the people around us is totally normal. It can even be helpful, because it helps us work out who we are and what we’re good at. But unfortunately, we’re surrounded by unrealistic examples of what our lives ‘should’ be like, which is especially true on social media.

Social media has invented a new way for us to compare ourselves to other people. We see people posting about the best bits of their lives and we forget that they don’t share all the bad bits too.

This can all add up and make us feel like we’re not good enough and companies take advantage of this, making lots of money selling products to make us ‘look better’, ‘be stronger’, ‘fit in’… but, ya know, always stand out and be yourself as well.

But, did you know…?

It only takes two weeks to change your self-esteem. So even if you feel like you’re not good enough compared to the people around you, there are some simple steps that you can take to build up your confidence. Before you know it, you’ll stop comparing yourself to the people around you and start to embrace the fact that you are the best person out there at being you.

8 Things That Will Make You Feel More Secure In Yourself

Use your strengths

The VIA Character Strengths are 24 strengths that all of us have in different combinations, and each of us is strongest in different areas.

No-one can be good at everything and that’s OK. So instead of focusing on where we’re weakest, we should remember all the things we are great at!

The best way to boost your self-esteem is to find ways to use your natural strengths to help the people around us. It feels really rewarding and fulfilling to be the best person we can be.

Acknowledge your thoughts

When you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself, notice it and recognise what you’re doing, and what your brain is saying. Instead of trying to ignore the thoughts – say hi to them, and realise they’re there.

Pull the brakes

When you experience negative self-talk – literally say the word STOP out loud to yourself. This interrupts the negative stream of thought.

Flip the negatives

Reframe the negative thoughts so that they focus on the positive instead.

Find the full half of the glass.

Step away from social media

Take some time away from your social feeds, and give your comparing brain a rest.

Unfollow anyone who you compare against

When/if you do go back online, make sure you’re only following people who make you feel good.

Be your own best friend

Next time your negative voices kick in, reply as if you were talking to your best friend.

Affirmations

Tell yourself positive statements which challenge your negative beliefs.

Think of three negative things that you believe about yourself and then flip them around so that they become positive statements. These flipped beliefs are called affirmations.

If you can’t think of any negative beliefs, think of three things that you want for yourself, for example “I want to get a distinction in my piano exam”, and turn them into ‘I am’ statements: “I am going to get a distinction in my piano exam.’

Every time you brush your teeth, or when you get a spare moment, silently repeat the affirmations to yourself.

Need some tips on feeling happier? Check this out

We’ve all felt stressed before. Exams, money worries, family issues, friend drama. Whatever negatively impacts your life is sure to bring with it some stress. But what actually is it? And what does it actually do to us? 

Stress is a state of emotional tension that we experience when our brain thinks that we are under threat. It developed as a very useful feature which helped us to run away from predators, and other immediate dangers. When our brain senses that it’s under threat, it instructs our body to release several hormones, including one called cortisol.

The hormone cortisol has several key roles in preparing us for danger:

  • It affects our immune system, preparing us for injury
  • Makes us hyper aware of potential threats
  • Increases glucose levels in our blood, so that we have the energy to run
  • Suppresses our digestive system, because if we’re under threat we don’t need to be worrying about eating
  • Increases our blood pressure, so that we get blood to our muscles more quickly
  • Reduces our sensitivity to pain, in case we are injured.

All of these effects are very useful in short-term emergency situations

The problem now, is that our modern society is filled with lots of things that make our brain feel threatened, or under attack. These small things can add up, making us feel stressed

We are all unique, so each of us can tolerate a different level of stress before it gets overwhelming. Some people can “fill up” more quickly than others, meaning they get stressed more easily, and that’s OK.

Whatever your capacity, whether you’re a tiny teacup or a massive mug, even the small things can add up until they overflow. This can make us feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Think you can identify what a micro-stressor is? Read our case study and spot as many as you can

The good news is there are lots of ways we can reduce our cortisol levels, and show our brains that we are not under threat. The key thing is that dealing with stress requires an active response. 

CONNECT WITH NATURE

Whether it’s cycling through the woods, sitting on the beach, or hiking in the hills – being in nature automatically soothes our brain and helps us to relax.

If you can’t get outside, even listening to nature sounds can help you to de-stress.

OPEN UP

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, tell someone about it. You don’t have to carry stress by yourself – and sometimes just speaking about it can help us feel more in control. A problem shared is a problem halved.

SAVOUR THE MOMENT

Rather than focusing on the stressful times, we can unwind by focusing on the good moments in our lives. Next time something good happens to you, stop and really enjoy it – taking in all the details about what it feels like.

PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE

If you find yourself feeling stressed about something, ask yourself – 

“How much will this matter tomorrow?”

“How much will this matter next week?”

“How much will this matter next year?”

WRITE A TO-DO LIST

Sometimes we can feel like we don’t have enough time in the day, and this can make us feel stressed. By writing a to-do list, or a schedule, we can allocate time to work, socialise and relax, giving us more balance and control.

THINK FLEXIBLY

Think of as many different solutions to the problem as you can, or look at it from as many points of view as you can. Challenge yourself, to see how many you can come up with.

Need help with getting into meditation? Read this

Got something on your mind? Go to our support community for free and confidential support.

In our Valentine study, 55% of young people admitted to having had a virtual relationship. This statistic comes as no surprise when you consider that the vast majority of our time is now spent roaming the internet and communicating with others via various social networks.

While online relationships have gained some bad press – blamed for a wider disconnection between people and our ability to communicate in offline environments, we have yet to acknowledge the positives of conducting a romantic relationship in such a way.

“55% of young people admitted to having had a virtual relationship”

Informed by our recent research we have compiled 7 reasons why virtual relationships are not as bad as you think:

1. They enable. 

Our research revealed that young people likely to engage in a virtual relationship are those with a physical or learning disability. Virtual relationships allow for human connection, contact and gratification – things which for some, might be challenging to obtain or experience in the physical world.

Those with a disability can also choose how much they disclose about their disability, they can present themselves how they wish and many find relief and freedom from some of the prejudices they have encountered offline.

2. They allow for anonymous exploration of sexuality.

In our report we found that members of the gay community were more likely to have had a virtual relationship. The internet allows for young people to explore elements of their identity, like their sexuality, anonymously and in a safe space without having to reveal themselves to their offline friends and family if they are not ready to do so. This also means they do not have to ‘commit’ to any aspect of their identity prematurely.

“62% of young people who had admitted to having a virtual relationship were from a religious background”

This is in keeping with our finding that 62% of young people who had admitted to having a virtual relationship were from a religious background. It seems that online relationships give young people the opportunity to explore and come to terms with their sexual preferences at a pace that suits them, free from external pressures.

3. They can lead to meaningful offline relationships.

Just because you have met online and conducted your relationship virtually thus far, does not mean it will permanently remain within the confines of cyberspace. Some online relationships eventually lead to the couple meeting in an offline environment and continuing their relationship in this way. In this day and age it is now extremely commonplace to find a partner online – it does not make your relationship any more or less ‘real’.

4. You can easily meet like-minded people.

In cyberspace it is extremely easy to find and connect with people who are of a similar mindset to you and share your interests, regardless of location – distance just isn’t a problem. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the offline world, where some struggle to meet others who share their identity – this can be extremely isolating.

5. You can practice ‘people skills’ which you can then apply in offline environments.

Although some would argue that the increasing time we spend communicating via social media (rather than engaging in face-to-face interactions) has been detrimental to our ability to forge ‘real’ connections in offline environments, it could be argued that actually, the opposite is true. For those who suffer with social anxiety for example, a online relationship might give them the opportunity to practice talking to someone, joking with someone or sharing their thoughts and feelings with someone – things which they may not have been comfortable doing offline. This could be a great starting point in acquiring social skills which can then be applied in day-to-day life.

“We found that members of the gay community were more likely to have had a virtual relationship”

6. Less stress.

When you are virtually connected with a partner, the everyday stresses that trigger couples to bicker in the offline world are not applicable. For example, the silly little quarrels about whose turn it is to cook, what programme to watch on TV or whether one of you has stayed out ‘too late’ with mates, just aren’t going to take place. This means that potential reasons for arguments are lessened, minimising stress.

6. Conflict management.

When arguments do occur between couples in the offline world, they can often escalate quickly. This is generally down to the fact that in the heat of the moment hurtful words are exchanged and voices are raised; it is easier to take offence when you are there to witness the tone in your partner’s voice, their facial expression and body language. When you argue in an offline environment you are also under pressure to react instantly, which means you are likely to say things you don’t mean – things that, once spoken, you cannot take back. This can have a disastrous effect on a relationship and may even lead to a separation.

In an online relationship however, you have the ability to communicate with your partner whenever you want, in whatever format you want (be that text, audio or video) and at whatever pace you feel comfortable with. This means you have the time to properly consider and articulate what it is you want to say – for example you can type a message, read it, revise it and then make the decision whether to send it or not. This is especially useful when dealing with emotionally strenuous situations and may mean that many an argument is nipped in the bud, if not completely avoided.

Remember to stay safe online. We recommend that you keep your privacy settings high. Before you give away personal details like your full name, telephone, address etc to someone you have not met offline be sure that they are who they say they are. If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, or has your personal information and is giving you the impression that your safety might be at risk, contact the police or a trusted adult immediately.

Are you addicted to social media? We’ve paired up with Lynx to uncover some of the biggest telltale signs that you’re completely hooked.

Know somebody who can relate? Share this with them!

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Ever looked at someone else’s life on social media and thought that you do anything to have that life? Yeah us too.

Comparing yourself to social media is something that we all do from time to time, but it can actually have a pretty negative impact on your mental wellbeing.

Give this a watch, and see for yourself.

Need help with your social media habits? Check out these useful links.

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