Midlothian Young People's Advice Service | Hide this site

Winter Holiday Wellbeing

If you are struggling with your feelings over lockdown, then please know it’s natural to feel like this just now. Also know, there are things you can do to feel better. It is possible to take advantage of the change of pace to focus on yourself, your mental health and wellbeing.

We hope our top tips, ideas and information links below will help.

  • Routine
  • Sleep
  • Support & Staying Connected
  • Looking after Yourself while Online
  • Being Mindful
  • Looking out for Others
  • Food & Mood
  • Exercise
  • Substance Use
  • Money Worries
  • Other Sources of Help


With COVID restrictions back in place, you won’t be able to do many of the things that would normally do. We understand this will be causing frustration and stress.

Learning and working at home can be stressful if there’s tension between your family or friends or an unrealistic expectation to just ‘put on a smile’. Being around the people you live with much more than usual might be a positive thing, but it’s also likely to cause tension and arguments.

Here are 5 tips for improving your routine:

1. Plan your day

  • Try to get up around the same time every day and avoid sleeping into the afternoon. Maybe set a goal to get up every morning for a specific task or activity. This could be a walk, a jog, making breakfast, or some home-learning/revision you have for school or college.
  • Plan a group activity online or in your home – such as a game – to keep people distracted
  • If you plan your day around something you enjoy, reading, exercise, a movie or cooking, that’ll break your day up and you’ll also feel you’ve achieved something.

2. Try something new

This a great opportunity to try something new, or get back into doing something you used to enjoy but lost touch with. This could be:

  • Treat yourself: try some baking or cooking,
  • Fitness: find exercises you can do at home on YouTube,
  • Get creative: start an art project such as drawing or animation,
  • Escape: Immerse yourself in fictional worlds by reading or having a go at creative writing
  • Interior design: always fancied rearranging your bedroom? Go for it!
  • Pampering: How about taking a relaxing bath rather than a shower? Stick a face mask on. Drink lots of water
  • Be productive: have a go at fixing something you broke months ago? There are lots of tutorials online. 

3. Take screen breaks

Do you struggle to go 20 minutes without checking your phone?

Try putting your phone away for an hour or two, and you’ll feel better for it.

It’s going to very tempting to be glued to screens for hours on social media or gaming. This might be a good way to connect with others and stay in touch, but if it’s taking up hours and hours of your time and you’re just mindlessly refreshing the same couple of apps then it will affect your mental health. Also, taking a break from hearing about everything that’s happening just now will help, as it can all feel really negative. If you need to talk, then reach out to a close friend or try a text helpline. See below for more details.

4. Make time for yourself

It’s good to take a break from the other people you live with. Even if it’s for half an hour you’ll feel better for it. This is a good opportunity to relax and not do anything, without the usual distractions. If you find this hard to do amid the chaos of Christmas, then go for a walk. Wrap up warm and clear your mind.

Check out the ‘being mindful’ section below for more tips on relaxing your body and mind.

5. Get out once a day for fresh air

Getting out for your daily exercise is really important and getting some fresh air. Why not plan walking routes from your home to explore places around where you live that you’ve not been to? You might be surprised what’s out there. You’re never far from trails, or cycle paths in East Lothian and Midlothian. Check out walking routes in East Lothian and Midlothian on the links below. Check out our exercise section for more tips.




Avoid using smartphones, tablets or laptops before bed as they disrupt our ability to sleep – try reading a book or magazine instead – and don’t sleep with a television on. Avoid coffee and energy drinks for a few hours before sleep; caffeine is a stimulant and can stop us sleeping and disrupts your sleeping pattern.

A dark sleeping space is also important – try blackout blinds – and try a simple relaxation exercise before bed: lie on your back with your eyes closed, tense all your muscles, and then concentrate on relaxing each part of your body in turn. 

For more tips and suggestions on good sleep check the link below.


Support & Staying Connected

Sometimes you might think you can manage ok without support or to be there for others while forgetting about yourself. It is important you reach out to people in your life at this time that are supportive and encouraging. If you’re struggling then it’s OK to say that you are. Speak to a supportive family member or talk to someone you trust, a friend, an aunt or uncle.

Talking with a friend or relative about the things that are worrying you can help you to realise that some of them aren’t so heavy after all, and help you to focus on one or two things that are at the root of your worry.

If you do find yourself struggling or feel unable to cope, there are other services which can help. You can call ChildLine on 0800 1111, or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both of these numbers are free to call and are open 24 hours a day.

Breathing Space Scotland offers a free confidential helpline to talk about how you are feeling:  0800 838587, this is available Monday to Friday 6pm-2am and 24 hours at the weekend and is for anyone 16 and over who is feeling low, anxious or isolated.

For other resources with really helpful mental health support and links for specific mental health conditions please check:


Being Mindful – Live in the moment

Have you heard of mindfulness? Why not give it a go.

There’s no point dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Living in the moment is easier said than done but simple mindfulness exercises can help to focus your mind on the present.

Take a moment to pause, then relax your jaw bones, and close your eyes. Take a big deep breath. Breathing in through the nose out through the mouth. Sense your lungs expanding with calm fresh air with every breath in. Then breathe out stress, a sense of letting go of your worries and anxieties. Aim to have about one breath in and out, every 8 – 10 seconds. Try for a few minutes to begin with. 10 minutes of mindful breathing a day can have massive benefit for your wellbeing.

Find out more about mindfulness on the link below:


Looking out for others

Lockdown is a good time to think about others. Perhaps being stuck at home with the smallest of things getting on your nerves all you want to do is isolate yourself away from everyone. Although this might help, there are things we could do to help others just now.

Helping others or performing small acts of kindness is great for our own mental wellbeing. You could listen to a friend’s anxieties, do some volunteering at a local charity, take a treat to a lonely neighbour.

Contact a family member or friend you are worried about to check in with them, go to the shop for an elderly neighbour or message that friend you haven’t spoken to in ages, chances are they’ll be delighted to hear from you!

Food and mood

Food impacts our mood. If we feel down it’s easy to eat unhealthy food.

It can be tempting to turn to alcohol to cope with stress, loneliness or to keep up the party pace, but alcohol is a depressant so limit your intake to within safe guidelines and avoid too much sugary food, which can leave us lethargic and feeling low. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean meat, and drink lots of water in between the occasional festive indulgence. A brisk 20 minute walk will release endorphins, helping you feel relaxed and happy, as well as boosting your immune system, helping you avoid seasonal viruses.

Why not use this as an opportunity to have a total rethink about food, what you eat and using up your festive leftovers or what’s in your cupboards for easy tasty meals. They don’t need to be complicated! Check out these simple recipes below and healthy eating tips. Remember good food for positive mood!




Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your self-esteem
  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

Get on a bike if you have one or go for a wee run. Exercise releases natural feel good chemicals in our brains, like endorphins and adrenaline. We call these natural highs!

Check out Jog Scotland’s running tips for secondary school pupils below:


Useful Apps that you could try:

Substance use

It’s best to avoid drinking, using drugs or smoking to cope with the added pressures of lockdown. This is a great opportunity to find positive ways to cope with boredom and frustrations. Many of these coping strategies we have talked about here.

It’s also a good time to think about quitting a substance without all the temptations and distractions from before! Most young people who want to quit get drawn back into using by influences from peers or friends and being around alcohol and drugs. Now that these temptations are gone until life gets back to normal, you have a higher chance of stopping completely!

As its lockdown, and you’re not out and about with friends it probably means you’ll be less likely to drink or take drugs than normal. But if you do, www.talktofrank.com suggests you should be extra careful:

If you’re using drugs or drinking with other people, remember that viruses can be spread easily by sharing drinks, joints, bongs, pipes and vapes or by using the same snorting tube as someone else (like a rolled-up bank note).

The more you drink or use drugs on one occasion, the more your judgement will be affected and this can lead to you doing things or taking risks that you otherwise wouldn’t.

You might want to use drink or drugs because you’re worried or feeling down but this is likely to make you feel worse and effect your physical and mental health.

Some drugs (particularly opioids like tramadol and codeine) are also more dangerous to do on our own because there’s no one to help if you overdose. Also, if dealers can’t get hold of drugs as easily, they might cut their supply or sell you something that’s completely different, and possibly more dangerous, than what you think you’re getting.

MYPAS has put together some information resources on MDMA and Nitrous:



Check out more substance use and hygiene tips from CREW in Edinburgh below:


Money Worries

Coronavirus has put added financial pressure on all of us.

If there is pressure on how you or your family shop for food, pay bills, council tax or rent then please check out the information links below:

Other Sources of Help

Young Minds Christmas Advice: https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/looking-after-your-mental-health-at-christmas/#take-time-out

SANEline – a telephone crisis line for anyone from 15 years and older. There is no charge for calls and they are open everyday from 4:30pm until 10:30 pm on 0300 304 7000.

MIND – has a variety of supports available for all ages including the online community at Elefriends where peer support is available and general guidance and advice on the main web page.

The Samaritans – 24 hour help line for crisis can be contacted by phoning 116 123 it is free, confidential and accessible.

You can call ChildLine on 0800 1111. This number is free to call and are open 24 hours a day.

Breathing Space Scotland offers a free confidential helpline to talk about how you are feeling:  0800 838587, this is available Monday to Friday 6pm-2am and 24 hours at the weekend and is for anyone 16 and over who is feeling low, anxious or isolated.

If you need to see someone, think about contacting local services including your GP practice or on call GP’s, the NHS 111 helpline for advice, guidance and directions. If you are in need of urgent help, you can attend your local A&E department or if you have a mental health team supporting you a Christmas action plan and support will be available.