ICE 4 Life

Personal Development Strategies, Tools
and Techniques for Young People

There will be times when you feel low, negative, angry, frustrated or just unsure of yourself. Here are a few strategies, tools and techniques to help you feel better, happier and empowered again…

The Sky Smile

Lift your head up and look at the ceiling or sky and smile (a big open smile showing your teeth as if you were making the noise... ‘Eeeeeee’. Hold this for at least 20 seconds, and whilst doing this, think of a happy thought or occasion
(It is an instant mood-lifter. You can not physically feel low when you try this. If you are in any doubt, try the opposite… look down into your lap and put on a sad face, think sad thoughts… see how you feel and then try the Sky Smile again. You will notice a huge difference.

The Lavender Effect

Put 2-3 drops of lavender oil onto a napkin and inhale the aroma. Lavender is good for helping you to relax and feel calm. Whilst you are taking in the smell of the lavender, breathe deeply… in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think to yourself… ‘Breathe in positive… breathe out negative’

Repeat positive affirmation to yourself

Some examples…

I deserve the very best and accept the best now
I love and approve of myself exactly as I am
Every day, every way I’m getting better
I can do anything I put my mind to!
I am doing the best I possibly can
It’s great to be me!

Macrame’ calming exercise

This exercise is good for returning your body back to a natural state of calm when you are feeling angry or frustrated.

Close to your face, hold your hands out in front of you (backs of hands facing each other) and push forward as if you were doing the breast-stroke action until your arms are out-stretched (still with backs of hands facing each other)

Cross hands over so your palms are facing and intertwine your fingers, clasping your hands together.

Stretch out towards the left feeling the pull under your right shoulder, then stretch out towards the right, feeling the pull under your left shoulder.

As you do this, try to yawn… (at first this will seem false… but in time and with regular practice, you will be able to yawn easily… and this will help to relax and calm you).

Turn palms inwards still facing each other as if you were going back towards your face and tuck them up underneath your chin.

Squeeze your hands and arms tightly for the count of 5 (feeling the tension in the squeeze)

And then release the squeeze (feeling the relaxation) letting your hands fall gently down into your lap, whilst blowing out negative feelings through your mouth.

Challenge – Do this every day for 14 days and see what happens when you start to stretch out to the left and right.


Deep Breathing

Breathe in through your nose, from deep in your stomach… this will lift your diaphragm, taking in plenty of oxygen to fuel your brain. Hold this for the count of 5 and then blow out through your mouth… as you do this exercise tell yourself ‘I am breathing in positive air and blowing out the negative feelings from my body’.

If you are doing this with others, try synchronising everyone’s breathing for a really calming state.


‘Act as if…’ Strategy

Sometimes it is easy to pretend to do or be something. If you like Performing Arts then this strategy will be easy. Think of the last time you went into Drama and were given a role to act out. This ‘Act as if…’ strategy is good when you want to have a try at being more confident than you really are. Simply:-

‘act as if…’ you did know the answer
‘act as if…’ you were confident
‘act as if…’ you were good at sports
‘act as if…’ you were popular and had loads of friends

If you keep trying this strategy, eventually you will get better at whatever it is you are trying to do or be. The more you practice something, the better at it you become… and this is where confidence comes from – from doing something over and over.

We are only afraid of what we don’t yet know.


‘I’ Messages

‘I’ messages are a clear way of getting your message across without using blame. This helps you and the other person to come to an understanding of how each feels.

You can do this by remembering some important points:

1. Make sure you are being heard. E.g. ‘I’d like to talk with you’.
2. Look directly at the listener.
3. Speak in a clear voice.
4. Use ‘I’ statements.

• Describe the situation: “When you…”
• State how you feel: “I feel …”
• Say what you want: “I’d like it if…”

5. Check for understanding
6. Thank the listener.


Can I talk to you for a moment. When you … (talk about me behind my back it makes me) … (feel uncomfortable and I feel I can’t trust you). I would like it if … (you wouldn’t do that. Thank you).

Another example:

When people accuse me of cheating at a game (The BEHAVIOUR)

Things get out of hand (The EFFECT)

It makes me feel angry because I feel picked on and not trusted (The FEELING)

I would you to give me the benefit of the doubt (The SOLUTION)

We can call these ‘I Messages’, as we are speaking for ourselves and not blaming others. An example of the difference between an ineffective ‘You Message’ and an effective ‘I Message would be:

You Message

‘You never come round for me when you say you will. You always let me down!’

I Message

‘When you don’t come round for me when you’ve said you will, I feel really let down. I’d like it if I could count on you in future’.

Remember, if you treat the other person with respect and do not use blame, they are more likely to respond positively to your requests. No-one likes to be blamed.


4-Stage Plan for Problem Solving

Stage 1

Identify the source of your anxiety
‘What is it that is making me feel the way I do at the moment?’

Stage 2

Generate choices about what you can do to make things better
‘What can I practically do to sort this problem out?’
This will help you to feel in control again.

Stage 3

Take immediate action
‘What can I do about this NOW?’
People tend to feel better when they’ve done something about a problem – they are less likely to feel like a victim.

Stage 4

Appraise the effectiveness of your actions
‘Has this worked for me? Have I reacted better than what I usually would?

If at stage 4 it hasn’t worked – go back to stage 2 and try again until it does.



‘Time out’

To be used when angry, (especially when both persons are angry at each other). One person should say the words, ‘Time Out’ and then agree a time to come back together and talk about what is upsetting the person. This gives both parties time apart from each other to let the angry emotion pass and then when you reconvene you are able to talk reasonably without anger. If you get back together and are still angry, do ‘Time Out’ again until there is no anger.

‘Invasion of space – Step back’

To be used when in a heated argument and the space between two people becomes too close. Person needs to step back (arms length space so you can wave your arms in front of you without touching the other person) to create an acceptable boundary space between each other, thus not making the other person feel threatened.

‘Don’t shout’

If someone is shouting at you and not giving you a chance to respond or have your say… Using a calm, clear, gentle voice, say, ‘I can see you are angry, Can I speak?’ By not shouting back and using the lower voice, you invite the person to calm as they will not feel threatened by your calm voice and they should stop shouting at you.

If they continue to shout, you could say… ‘I can see you are very angry right now. I have things I need to tell you but we will do this later’. There may be occasions when they are so angry that they continue to shout even after you have used this strategy. It is important to remember that anger can be very powerful and not take on their emotion. Leave the room, walk away, reiterating that you will talk with them later when they can talk with rather than shout at you.