Tips For Better Mental Health

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Challenging Negative Thoughts: Practical Steps to Boost Your Mental Well-Being

Negative thoughts can creep in and affect your mood, self-esteem, and overall mental health. Learning how to challenge and reframe these thoughts is a powerful tool for maintaining a positive outlook. Here are some actionable steps to help you counter negative thinking:

  1. Identify Negative Thoughts

The first step is to become aware of your negative thoughts. Pay attention to patterns and triggers. Are there specific situations or times when these thoughts are more likely to occur?

  1. Examine the Evidence

When a negative thought arises, scrutinise its validity. Ask yourself:

What evidence supports this thought?

What evidence contradicts it?

Are you assuming the worst-case scenario?

  1. Reframe the Thought

Try to find a more balanced perspective. For example, instead of thinking, “I always fail,” reframe it to, “Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I learn. Failure is a part of growth.”

  1. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Create a list of affirmations that resonate with you and repeat them daily. Examples include:

“I am capable and strong.”

“I am worthy of love and respect.”

“I can handle whatever comes my way.”

  1. Challenge Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are irrational thought patterns that can reinforce negative thinking. Common distortions include:

All-or-nothing thinking: Viewing situations in black-and-white terms.

Overgeneralisation: Seeing a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.

Catastrophising: Expecting the worst-case scenario.

Identify and challenge these distortions when they arise.

  1. Use Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness helps you stay present and reduces the power of negative thoughts. Practices like deep breathing, meditation, and mindful observation can ground you in the moment and prevent negative spirals.

  1. Keep a Thought Journal

Write down your negative thoughts and then write a rational response to each one. This practice helps externalise your thoughts and allows you to see them more objectively.

  1. Engage in Physical Activity

Exercise can improve your mood and reduce stress. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s walking, dancing, or playing a sport.

  1. Seek Support

Talking to someone you trust about your negative thoughts can provide a fresh perspective. Professional help from a therapist or counsellor can also be invaluable in developing effective strategies for managing negative thinking.

  1. Focus on Gratitude

Shift your focus to positive aspects of your life. Each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. This practice can help rewire your brain to focus on positivity rather than negativity.

  1. Set Realistic Goals

Set small, achievable goals to build confidence and create a sense of accomplishment. Celebrate your successes, no matter how minor they may seem.

  1. Practice Self-Compassion

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. Acknowledge your feelings without judgment and remind yourself that it’s okay to have bad days.

Remember, challenging negative thoughts is a skill that takes practice and patience. Each step you take towards reframing your mindset is a step towards greater mental well-being. Be gentle with yourself and celebrate your progress, no matter how small.

Skin and Mental Health

Skin and Mental Health

By Vicki Wootton-Champion

Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Tough Enough To Care

When we first discussed the social media strategy for our body confidence and mental health month, I immediately knew I wanted to address the connection between skin disorders and mental health, having lived with eczema for most of my life.

When we talk about body confidence,” weight and size often dominate the conversation, but skin issues are rarely mentioned. Yet, a recent study by the Eczema Association revealed that three-quarters of patients suffer from acute mental distress caused by their condition. Psoriasis patients are 1.5 times more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms and experience a higher prevalence of anxiety symptoms (20–50%) compared to those without psoriasis. Similarly, individuals with acne and acne scarring are also significantly more likely to develop anxiety and depression. These statistics are not limited to eczema, psoriasis, and acne of course; numerous other skin conditions have similar effects on mental health.

The doctors that I’ve seen over the years – and there have been MANY – talked long and hard about steroids and immuno-suppressants and handed out thick, greasy creams, but nobody talked to me about mental health, or how my skin was affecting it and vice versa, let alone attempted to address it.

My own experiences have taught me invaluable lessons and empowered me to share my story, alongside a few practical tips to help others feel confident in their skin.  At Tough Enough To Care, our goal is simple: if our content resonates with even one person and makes them feel less alone, then it’s a triumph in our eyes.

My Story

I’ve had eczema my whole life, but I think that it was high school when my confidence took a hit for the first time. Teenage angst, hormones, exams, and stress aren’t exactly ideal for skin conditions, and I had frequent flare-ups. Eczema isn’t just a skin condition; it’s a life condition. The flare-ups, often unpredictable and persistent, bring with them physical discomfort and emotional turmoil. I would often shy away from sports or activities that might expose my skin. The relentless itching and visible rashes made me acutely self-conscious, particularly in the summer. While my peers worried about typical teenage concerns, I was engrossed in managing my condition and hiding my skin under layers of clothing, even in the hot weather.

The mirror became a source of anxiety. Social interactions were fraught with the fear of judgment. “What’s wrong with your skin?” was a question that haunted me. Each query, no matter how well-intentioned, felt like a spotlight on my imperfections. This constant scrutiny led to a deep-seated insecurity that took years to address.

In my twenties and early thirties, I experienced numerous flare-ups that seemed to come and go relentlessly. During these times, I often resorted to using strong steroid creams to manage the symptoms and provide some relief. The constant battle with my skin condition was not just a physical struggle but an emotional one as well. I longed to feel beautiful and confident, and be able to just wear what I wanted to like my friends, who seemed to effortlessly radiate self-assurance.

Admitting this might sound superficial and self-centered, but it stemmed from a deep-seated need for acceptance and belonging. Living with eczema often made me feel like an outsider, and I yearned for the simple comfort of feeling at ease in my own skin. This struggle wasn’t merely about vanity; it was about the profound impact that eczema had on my self-esteem and emotional well-being. I found it hard to chat to new people and dating terrified me.

It wasn’t until I met Ryan, my now husband, that I started to feel beautiful. He was and still is my rock and my soulmate and his unwavering support and love have been instrumental in my journey towards self-acceptance. He was particularly supportive during my last and most horrific flare – ironically the one that made me find my confidence and start my journey finally to being unapologetically me.

****Trigger warning. Photos of Eczema coming up*****

It started just after COVID. The stress of working in the hospitality industry, which was brutal during the pandemic, combined with my decision to stop using steroids, triggered a severe reaction. Influenced by horror stories about topical steroid withdrawal (TSW) on social media, I quit cold turkey—a mistake I deeply regret. My system went into overdrive and I was covered from head to toe in the most painful eczema I could have ever imagined possible. I oozed from every part of me, putting clothing on hurt, having a shower hurt and even breathing hurt. It attacked my face, stripping away the person that I used to see in the mirror. I couldn’t afford to stop working and so I carried on and became so unbearably exhausted from the mental and physical toll, that whenever I wasn’t there I just slept.

I cried….a lot.. I was terrified of the doctors putting my back on steroids because of all the stuff I had read on social media and I was terrified of never being me again.

I vividly remember one day being on the phone to my mom and just saying “I can’t do this anymore.” I didn’t want to hurt my loved ones but I couldn’t stand being alive in what had become of my body. My mental health was in rock bottoms basement!

She was at my door in minutes. She saved me that day.

With the help of my incredible, incredible parents, my mother and father-in-law, and my wonderful Ryan, I got help from a private dermatologist and, for the first time, I started to address the damage that my condition had done to my mental health.

I deleted every social media page that I was following that talked about TSW and started to follow a treatment programme that was right for me.

I had EFT Therapy and learned how to use tapping, which is a therapeutic technique that combines elements of traditional Chinese medicine (specifically acupuncture) and modern psychology, to restore balance to the body’s energy system and relieve psychological stress and physical pain.


I started to do yoga which is just incredible for managing stress and I downloaded the Headspace app which is just fantastic for meditation and stress relief practices.

Most importantly I talked. I talked to my friends and my family and my long-suffering husband about my problems. I admitted when I was struggling, instead of bottling it all up and pushing it away. I realised that being strong wasn’t about keeping quiet and dealing with everything alone, but it was about letting others in to help.

My journey isn’t over. My confidence is far from the levels of where I want it to be. I still doubt myself and sometimes I hide myself away because I need to, but I am so much better than I used to be and my skin is reflecting that by healing. To look at me now, you wouldn’t believe that I was the same person that sat on my sofa howling and wanting it all to stop just three years ago. My face is back to normal and I’ve just got a few pesky patches on my back and arms left to manage. My mental health is…..well…..healthier! 

 I will always have eczema, but I’m learning to love my body and the things that it can do, rather than hating its imperfections.

My tips for managing skin conditions and mental health

Surround yourself with love: Surrounding yourself with a supportive network of loved ones is crucial. I owe being here today to my amazing parents, my supportive extended family, my beautiful friends, and especially Ryan. Whether healing mentally or physically, having people who genuinely care about you makes all the difference.

Education and Understanding: Understanding eczema was the first step, but learning about triggers and how to combat them gave me a sense of control over my condition. Recognising when your stress and anxiety levels are creeping out of control is key as these are major triggers for any skin condition.

Open Communication: Being open about my condition with friends and family alleviated the burden of hiding it. Their understanding and support boosted my confidence and made social interactions less daunting.

Allow yourself time to rest: I used to think that I had to plough on regardless and sometimes I wore stress like a badge of honour because I thought that it made me more successful! Now I listen to my body. If I’m tired I rest and I don’t apologise for doing that.

Empowering Activities: Engaging in activities that made me feel accomplished and proud shifted the focus from my skin to my abilities and contributions.

Audit your social media: Delete anything that makes you feel bad and seek out the accounts that make you feel good. Try not to get swept up in internet theories (like I did with TSW) and speak to a qualified health professional about your worries before you take ANY course of action.

Shift Your Focus: Instead of solely focusing on your skin’s imperfections, try to appreciate your overall appearance and qualities. Recognising that eczema/your skin condition is just one aspect of who you are is a game changer.

Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction: Engage in activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels, which can help manage and improve overall well-being. Even when I was super sore, I was able to find gentle practices that actually eased the pain.

Seek Professional Help: If feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem persist, consider speaking with a therapist or counsellor who can provide guidance and support in building self-confidence.

A final message to skin warriors

Living with eczema and other skin conditions is undoubtedly challenging. Each flare-up is a testament to our resilience and strength. The journey to confidence is not a straight path, but with every step, we grow stronger and more self-assured. Remember, you are more than your skin. Your worth is not defined by your condition but by the incredible person you are.

Know that you are not alone. Embrace your journey, celebrate your victories, no matter how small, and never lose sight of your inherent worth. Confidence comes from within, and with time, understanding, and self-compassion, it will shine through, making your spirit truly unbreakable.

Embrace Your Unique Body: Body image, social media and mental health.

Embrace Your Unique Body: Body image, social media and mental health.

In our digitally driven world, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. While it can offer inspiration, connection, and entertainment, it also has a darker side—particularly when it comes to body image. Constant exposure to idealised, often unrealistic representations of beauty can lead to unhealthy comparisons and a distorted self-image. However, by adopting mindful habits, we can use social media in ways that support a positive body image and mental well-being.

Understanding the Impact of Social Media on Body Image

Social media platforms are saturated with images of seemingly perfect bodies, often edited and filtered to portray an unattainable standard of beauty. These images can create a false sense of reality, leading us to compare our bodies unfavourably to those we see online. This comparison trap can result in negative self-perception, low self-esteem, and even disordered eating habits. Recognising the impact of these unrealistic portrayals is the first step towards healthier social media use.

Healthy Habits for Positive Body Image on Social Media

  1. Curate Your Feed for Body Positivity
Follow Body Positive Influencers: Seek out and follow accounts that promote body positivity and diversity. Influencers who embrace their natural bodies and encourage self-love can inspire you to do the same. Zach Miko, Vicky Pattison, Matt Joseph Diaz, Jessamyn Stanley, Nicola Johnston and Katie Mackie of Mackie’s Moments are all fantastic body positive advocates.

Unfollow or Mute Negative Influences: If certain accounts make you feel inadequate or unhappy with your body, it’s okay to unfollow or mute them. Your mental health should always come first.

  1. Set Healthy Boundaries

Limit Screen Time: Designate specific times for social media use and avoid endless scrolling. Your phone’s screen time settings can help you track and limit your usage.

Create a Social Media Schedule: Balance your online time with offline activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.


  1. Engage Mindfully

Be Selective with Content: Engage with content that makes you feel good about yourself. Share posts that reflect your values and contribute to positive conversations about body image.

Avoid Comparison: Remember that social media is often a highlight reel. Focus on your own journey and achievements rather than comparing yourself to others.

  1. Practice Self-Compassion and Gratitude

Daily Affirmations: Start your day with positive affirmations about your body. Remind yourself of your strengths and the unique qualities that make you who you are.

Gratitude Journals: Keep a journal where you write down things you are grateful for about your body. This practice can shift your focus from criticism to appreciation.

  1. Focus on Real Connections

Engage with Supportive Communities: Join online communities that promote body positivity and self-love. These groups can provide encouragement, support, and a sense of belonging.

Nurture Offline Relationships: Ensure you’re also investing time in face-to-face interactions with friends and family who support and uplift you.

  1. Be Aware of Editing and Filters

Recognise Unrealistic Standards: Be aware that many images on social media are edited or filtered. Understand that these portrayals are not reflective of reality.

Embrace Authenticity: Share unfiltered and unedited photos of yourself. Authenticity can inspire others to embrace their natural beauty as well.

Remember, your body is unique and beautiful just the way it is. Celebrate your individuality, embrace your imperfections, and use social media as a platform to spread positivity and self-love. Your mental and physical health are worth it, and so are you.