Looking after your wellbeing after crime
It’s about how you feel emotionally, as well as how well you can function and cope with the stresses of daily life. We all have good days and bad days and that’s completely normal.
Crime often disrupts normal life and we can experience lots of complex emotions. Everyone reacts differently, but it can feel like there's more to cope with, which can impact our mental wellbeing. It’s important to be patient with ourselves. With help and support, most people feel better, or even stronger, but it can take time.
There are also lots of things you can do to look after your own wellbeing. Here are just a few ideas and tools to try.
Some of the people we’ve supported have spoken to us about what helped them move forward. Not everything works for everyone, but their experiences may just strike a chord with you. As Julia says in her video, ‘realising that other people have been there…helped enormously’.
Debbie talks about the benefits of group support, journaling and a grounding exercise called ‘5-4-3-2-1’. She also explains how writing a letter to the traumatised part of herself made her see things differently.
Julia talks about the combination of strategies she used to feel stronger. This includes talking therapy and meditation, but also journaling, reading and getting out walking in the fresh air.
Christine explains how important journaling was during her recovery:
I journaled a lot, especially when I felt particularly upset. This enabled me to rant on a page, to be real about what was going on for me internally.
The outcome of this was that I expressed whatever was inside festering and this stopped me from wanting to dwell on it.
I was free of the upsetting thought or idea. I could consider it in a different way if I chose to revisit it later and I felt strangely separate from the very distressed person who wrote it, refreshed and liberated from the burden of it.
‘Improve your wellbeing after crime: five simple steps’
This short worksheet introduces five steps which, according to research, can help us all improve our wellbeing. You don’t need to take on all five steps at once — small changes can make a big difference to how you feel.
Think about what makes you feel happy, valued and like you’re getting the most out of life.
‘My five steps to wellbeing diary’
This diary helps you reflect on any changes you’ve made towards the five steps.
Don’t worry if you don’t manage to do something for all five every day. Celebrate what you achieve and the difference it makes. Your diary could help you work out what you find most helpful and what you’d like to do more often.
Many people have difficulty sleeping after crime. It’s a good idea to see your doctor if you’ve struggled for some time, but you can help improve your chances of a good night’s sleep. We’ve put together some tips to help get you started.
8 tips for relaxation — a video from Mind, the mental health charity
Daily life can feel more stressful after crime. Finding even a small amount of time each day to relax can help.
Connect with others
When we’re struggling with our mental or emotional wellbeing, it can feel like a lonely place to be. Connecting with other people —particularly if they’ve had similar experiences to us — can be a positive way to feel supported and remind us we’re not alone.
It may be helpful to talk to someone you trust — perhaps a friend, family member or support worker. You don’t have to tell people everything, but it can be difficult to work through things on your own.
Mind, the mental health charity, runs an online peer support group called Elefriends, which offers a safe space to share how you’re feeling and reach out to others. Visit the Elefriends website to learn more and find the answers to some FAQs.