You might be having some confusing emotions if you’re worried about harmful sexual behaviour, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.
Here are some ways you can try to manage your feelings. It’s important to try a few out and see what works best for you. Everybody is different and different ways of coping will work better for some people than others.
The more you practice these activities, even when you’re feeling calm, the better they’ll help you manage your emotions.
You could try starting each day with one of the activities. Or doing each one every week on a particular day – no matter how you’re feeling at the time.
Worry bagWorry bag
Draw a picture of a bag – any bag you like, big or small. This is your worry bag, and you can put all the things you’re concerned about into this bag. What’s in your bag of worries? It might have in itthings you worry about but which never happen
- things you don’t like but no one can change
- things that other people can sort out
- things that you can change
Grounding techniquesGrounding techniques
“Grounding techniques” help us to manage painful memories or strong feelings, from moment to moment. The aim is for you to focus on the present moment – on what’s happening right now. This is so you can step away from any difficult thoughts or memories that come into your head.
Simple grounding techniquesHere are some examples of ways to focus on the present moment.
- Pay attention to your body – feel your feet on the floor, your body’s weight, the chair you’re sitting in or a wall you’re standing against.
- Focus on what you can hear, like your breath, noises outside, birds singing or music.
- Hold something in your hand, like a pebble, or touch something like a ring or watch. It’s useful if the object is something you can carry around with you to squeeze if you feel upset. This is called a grounding object. Think about the object, how it feels, the shape of it, it’s temperature, try to focus on the object and slow your breathing down to a steady rate.
Tapping into the sensesWhen it feels like your difficult emotions are too much to handle, it can be helpful to tap into your senses. Focus on what you can:
- five things you can see around you
- four things you can touch around you
- three things you can hear
- two things you can smell
- one thing you can taste
Breathing exercisesBreathing exercises
When we breathe in and out, we take in oxygen from the air and let out extra carbon dioxide. Healthy breathing keeps the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our body. When we’re worried or anxious, our breathing might change (it might speed up, slow down or become more shallow), and this changes the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies. This can make it hard for us to think clearly or be able to calm down. Learning to breathe slowly, deeply and calmly is a great way to manage stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Have a look at the breathing exercises below and try them out. It’s probably best to try a few to find the one that suits you best. They only take a few minutes and you can do them anywhere. You’ll get the most benefit if you do them regularly as part of your daily routine.
Exercise one:This is a simple breathing technique you can do anywhere.
- Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, with your back straight and all your muscles relaxed. Keep your eyes closed, if you feel okay with that.
- Put your hands on your front just above your stomach. Breathe in slowly through your nose and then let your breath out slowly through your mouth, just like you’re blowing at a feather or a candle
- Notice how your ribs and stomach move out when you breathe in and move in when you breathe out.
- Imagine you have a big, yellow balloon inside your tummy. As you breathe in, imagine the balloon slowly filling up. As you breathe slowly out, let the yellow balloon become smaller and smaller. Keep noticing how your tummy and your chest move in and out as you breathe.
- Make sure your breaths are long and deep. It can sometimes help to count how long you breathe in for, and then make sure you breathe out for the same time or longer.
Exercise two:Here’s another simple breathing exercise to try:
- Hold your hand in front of you, or put it on the table. Slowly run a finger of your other hand around the outline of your hand.
- As you run your finger upwards, breathe in.
- When your finger reaches the top of each finger you’re outlining, hold your breath a moment.
- As your finger runs back down the other side of each finger you’re outlining, slowly breathe out.
- When you get to the bottom of each finger, hold your breath a moment again before you continue to the next finger.
- You can continue the same pattern on the way back around your hand. Try counting to four for each in-breath, hold and out-breath
Mindfulness means being aware of yourself and what’s around you right now, instead of:
- focusing on things that have happened in the past, that you can’t change
- thinking about the future and what might happen
- your situation
- people and things around you
- Paying attention. It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world, so we need to make an effort to do it.
- Living in the moment.
- Accepting yourself – no one is perfect!
- Focusing on your breathing.
- Focusing on things you enjoy that can distract you from your worries. This could be going for a walk, reading a book, playing a game or sport, cooking, or playing an instrument.
- Doing something absorbing and calming, like colouring, dot-to-dots, painting by numbers, finger labyrinths, mandalas or sudoku.
- Do a guided relaxation. Think of a place where you would feel completely relaxed, and imagine you’re there now. What can you see, hear, feel, taste, smell?