Hear From Aussie Hands Youth
Aussie Hands youth have shared what they do to look after their mind and body. They share their ideas to boost self-esteem and to feel good about themselves.
Knox stays active to stay positive
Playing sport or listening to music helps boost my self-esteem, confidence and feeling good about myself.
I like swimming, rugby, cricket and little athletics and also do singing lessons and acting classes. It’s great to do a lot of different activities to find out what I really enjoy and am good at, so now I’m developing my swimming and acting. Staying active helps me keep fit and it also allows me to stay positive mentally and be able to do day to day stuff without getting too down.
Thanks to my parents, I have so many things that I’m involved in. If I didn’t have that support I might not be doing as well as I am.
Music is a big part of feeling positive. Music helps put me in a good mood and concentrate, so I have music just for getting pumped up before a swim race.
I know that parents think they know what’s best for us, but I think they also need to trust that their kids can do things, listen to what they have to say and accept that they will want to start making decisions for themselves. If decisions are made for us, like what activities we want to do, then we’re not going to survive when we become young adults and need to be independent.
My advice to other teenagers is to find something that you love and that you’re good at, and commit yourself to that and no matter what it is, just try and stay with that and stay true to yourself.
Read more about Knox.
Hear From Experts
We spoke to occupational therapists and psychologists, who gave us an insight into ways to make sure you are looking after your mind and body. Here are their top tips:
Mindfulness is any activity in which you are entirely present at that moment in time. It is when you fully engage with your surroundings without distraction or judgement.
‘Resting the mind, even when awake, is important. Mindfulness helps us to feel calmer and more in control.’
Talk about your feelings
Talking about your feelings can be very beneficial. It can help you process your thoughts and emotions and help you better understand how you are feeling. The person you are talking to may help put a name to your feelings or offer some advice, but there is also value in just talking to be heard.
‘Talk to a trusted adult about your feelings. This could be your parents but could also be a guidance counsellor, a mental health professional, a peer support worker, or your chaplain at school. Those people are really in those roles to help support your confidence, resilience and feelings.’
Accept how you feel
You may want to rush to solutions when you feel down, but sometimes it can help to sit with your emotions, acknowledge them, and give them a name. Recognise that whatever you are feeling is valid and the feelings are OK to have. Once you have identified your emotions and thought about why you might be feeling that way, you can work on reframing your thoughts or finding a solution.
‘Whatever you are experiencing and whatever you are feeling, others will have felt the same. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed.’
Try new things
Trying new things and improving new skills can be a significant confidence boost. It also gives you new ways to make new friends and connect over shared interests.
‘We feel good about ourselves when we get to enjoy and do the activities that we like doing.’
Look after your physical health
Your physical health is intertwined with your mental wellbeing. Eating well, getting regular exercise, and ensuring you are getting enough sleep are all critical aspects of making sure you feel great.
‘The proven ways to look better and feel better are eating well, getting some regular exercise and at least 8 hours sleep each night.’
Be kind & help others
Being kind and helping other people is a great way to feel good about yourself. Examples could include volunteering, helping a neighbour or helping a classmate understand something you’ve learnt in school. Helping others can help improve your skill and confidence with the task you are assisting others with. In addition, being kind to others often opens up more opportunities.
‘Being kind is an important component, but volunteering or helping someone with something makes us feel good about ourselves. Being involved in many activities also gives us confidence in different areas of life plus we meet new people and learn new skills.’
Don’t compare yourself to others
We sometimes tend to compare ourselves to other people, but it’s important to remember that everyone is unique and special. In a world of social media, it can be even harder to avoid making comparisons. We are all different in our own way and will achieve things at our own pace. Using social media purposefully, unfollowing people who make you feel bad, and seeking out positive people or role models who make you feel good can make a world of difference for your self-esteem.
‘Whether you have a limb difference or not, teenagers often go through a stage where they might be worried about their popularity or not looking as good as someone else. Having a limb difference may or may not add another dimension to that.’
Recognise when you need some extra help
Sometimes you might need extra help, and that’s OK. Up to Up to 1 in 7 people aged between 4 and 17 experience a mental health condition each year.
Some signs that you may be experiencing depression include having a lack of energy or losing interest in things you used to enjoy, or feeling down for longer than ten days. If this sounds like you or you just don’t feel as positive as you usually are, then you might benefit from visiting a doctor and creating a mental health plan. Likewise, a mental health plan can also be helpful if you feel overwhelmed or anxious to a point where your everyday life, such as eating, sleeping, and concentration are being impacted.
You can ask a trusted adult to help you organise an appointment. If you are over 16, you are eligible for your own Medicare card and could arrange to see a doctor on your own if this is more comfortable for you.
‘Anxiety and depression are two of the most common issues that doctors and counsellors treat and are nothing to be ashamed of. There are a range of strategies and treatments they will be able to suggest to assist you to work through things.’
Aussie Hands member Tia feeling proud
When I was introduced to weight lifting I felt indestructible. Now I feel so proud and accomplished that I am able to lift these heavy weights even with my hand difference. It’s a great hobby to keep both a healthy body and mind.
I got my prosthetic from APC Prosthetics. They designed the cast to fit my arm, and I chose different attachments to place on it to do different activities at the gym.
Check out Tia doing barbell bench press:
Aussie Hands Patron Jessica Smith OAM demonstrates upper body exercises
I use a medicine ball and step to achieve balance in my shoulders so that I can easily go from one movement to the next.
Check out Aussie Hands Patron Jessica Smith OAM doing upper body exercises:
‘Even though you might sometimes be very self conscious about your limb difference, the majority of people don’t have an issue with it.’