Girl guiding has taken a leap into the future with its newly announced Free Being Me badge – seeking to change the ways that teenage girls view their bodies and boost self-esteem by combating the intense pressure girls are under to look a certain way. Describing itself as the ‘ultimate feminist organisation’ the charity has reinvented itself to ensure it remains relevant to modern day girls, with badges now focused on topics including community action, independent living and world issues.

Should the next step to be to look more widely, focusing on overall wellbeing, so not just encouraging girls to have a positive body image but also seeking to help them develop more general wellbeing skills. Empowering girls to manage their own wellbeing could have a profound impact on the way they handle their lives well into the future.

I know from personal experience that even very simple changes can make a real difference to the way you approach life, and what you are able to get out it – I took up running a few years ago, and am currently training for my first half marathon. I find that after a tough day at work, when I go out for that 5-miler, even or indeed especially when I do not feel like it, that coming home again I always feel better, more awake and generally having sorted through in my mind whatever it was that was troubling me or making me cross.

Learning to manage feelings and develop a positive and active attitude to life can build confidence, fostering resilience and a greater ability to cope with life’s stresses. Whether it is finding ways to channel emotions constructively, talking to others or, as I do, taking exercise, there are many simple actions that can help and often these skills can be taught. Simple activities such as reducing exposure to unnecessary stress, perhaps through learning to say ‘no’ or avoiding people who stress you out; reframing a problem that cannot be changed so you can see it in a more positive light; or taking control of the environment around you through setting your own limits on how you are willing or not to take on. All these techniques can empower girls and improve their wellbeing. Teaching girls that it is ok to change the way you do things, cutting down the dreaded to-do list by distinguishing between the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘musts’ and dropping tasks that are not truly necessary to the bottom of the list, or even dispensing with them altogether, are all straightforward approaches that can increase overall wellbeing.

So, what do you do to help manage your wellbeing? We’d love you to share with us your top tips and hints.

Allison Lindsay

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