An Easy Guide to an Easy Mind

How do you cheer yourself up? Is there something you do that just helps to wash away the stresses of the day?

It was from a conversation around those questions that a young women’s group from Arklow put together a small journal called ‘An Easy Guide To An Easy Mind’.

 journal cover

During the year we worked with the girls group from The Vault youth centre in Arklow.  The result of that work was a 42 page well-being journal filled with ideas from the young people about things they do to relax, distress and generally cheer themselves up, and now we make it available for free download.

journal spotify

The journal doesn’t aim to tell young people ‘how to be happy’, but shares some of the groups favourite things to do, while leaving space for users of the journal to create their own lists or activities that fit with the different sections. Some of them are simple and easy to do, like a playlist of feel good songs or think about the simple pleasures that we do day to day, while other section help us to think about how to get a good night’s sleep.


The design of the book tries to bring a personal scrapbook type look to it. Hours were spent cutting out letters from magazines to create page headings, and old typewriter was found to try give it an old look. The girls worked with an artist who helped them with the design, but also by bringing to life the girl’s ideas for a little cartoon figure (called Alan) who would pop up from time to time (including to the cover) to offer some tips.  So if the journal isn’t always the most slick professional looking book of all time,  this is (mostly) done on purpose.



If you like mindfullness colouring books, then we have a drawing especially done for the journal by Deirdre Burke, a local artist from Arklow who worked with the girls.




We aim to distribute the book among all of the secondary schools in Co Wicklow, as well as Youthreach centres and youth centres in the county.  We currently have a very limited amount of hard copies available from YouthSpin office in either Bray or Arklow.


You can also download the journal from this page. We would encourage you to share the journal, or links to this page if you think it might be of use to people.

Try our Spotify Playlist of feel good music

Click HERE to download An East Guide to an Easy Mind


Last Minute Exam Tips!

So, it’s not that long since you were one of the little ones starting ‘big school’. A short 6 or 7 years later, the excitement of graduation has passed and the reality of the Leaving Cert has taken grip. If you’re panicking – stop it! We have a few last minute tips that might make the next couple of weeks a little less stressful.  They won’t replace hard work, but they are a few reminders that might help with the non-studying side of things.

Leaving Cert Timetable

Photo by YouthSpin

Exam stress1

Photo by Gabi Mae

Relax – Yeah, I know, it’s easier said than done at this stage. Its too late to sign up for a course in yoga, but a few simple breathing exercises can help calm the nerves. If you feel nerves or stress are really getting on top of you then tell someone like your parents who might help relax you and calm you down.

Remember a certain amount of stress and nerves are normal and natural. It is a big exam after all.

Eat properly. Going into an exam hungry will not help your concentration levels. Drink water. Try to avoid energy drinks and caffeine.

Get a good night’s sleep before each exam.  If you can part with your phone, leave it in another room or at least out of reach on silent. Go to bed a little earlier than usual.

If you insist on cramming each night before your exam, take plenty of breaks, get some fresh air and a little exercise.

Exam stress3

Photo by Cui-Lyn Huang

Be prepared – Do you have spare pens and pencils? What else do you need? Calculator? Ruler?

Know your timetable – You don’t want any nasty surprises like finding an exam starts a half hour earlier than you thought.

Set an alarm to wake you up in plenty of time, and ask someone else to make sure you are up in time.

During the exam. Try to relax. Read the questions properly and carefully. All too often people answer a question they are not being asked.

Exam stress2

Photo by Robin Hutton

Start with the question you feel most confident about. Don’t mind what others are doing. It often feels like everyone else is writing more than you. Its a distraction.

When you have finished, and if you have time, go back over the paper again. Make sure you have your number in all the places it needs to be for example.

Back where we started, DON’T PANIC! The Leaving cert is an important exam, and important couple of weeks in your life, but it is not the be all and end all. There are plenty of different pathways to success. The Leaving cert is just one.

Time for a digital detox?

Do you suffer from Nomophobia – A fear or anxiety that comes from not being able to use your smart phone? Then maybe it’s time you had a digital detox? YouthSpin looks at simple tips to help reduce our obsession with our smart phones.

Nomophobia definition

Nomophobia can be a real problem

Nomophobia is a modern complaint. The word comes fromno mobile – phobia’ and refers to how   people feel when they can’t use their mobile phone. If that sounds familiar, then try these simple questions

  1. Do you feel anxious and/or panicky when you don’t have your phone with you?
  2. How often do you check your phone for notifications? Is it every few minutes?
  3. Do you get phantom vibrations?
  4. Do you get worked up about running out of battery power or losing reception?
  5. Do you sleep with your phone under your pillow?
  6. Do you regularly lose track of conversations that happen in person because you are checking or thinking about your phone?
  7. Do your check your phone for notifications last thing at night, and first thing in the morning?
  8. If you left the house to do a simple message, but realised you had left your phone behind, would you have to return immediately and get it?
  9. Do you use your phone while using the bathroom, or during other ‘intimate’ moments?

If you can answer yes to all or most of these you might consider whether you are overly attached to your phone.It doesn’t mean you have ‘nomobphobia’, or have a big problem but it might suggest you use your phone a bit too much.

Experts are taking the idea of nomophobia seriously, with some researchers calling on psychologists to place it on their ‘Diognastic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders’.


Try switching your phone off when you go to bed

Try switching your phone off when you go to bed

Don’t panic!!

All is not lost. If you have plenty of money then you can avail of one of the companies now offering ‘Digital Detox’ holidays.

If however, like most people that is not an option, then we have some simple tips can help reduce your need to have a phone

  • Switch off your phone when you go to sleep – There is normally very little that is so urgent that it  can’t wait till the next day. If there is an emergency, chances are there are other ways of getting in touch.
  • Agree on ‘no-phone’ zones in your house. Choose places or times in the house where phone use is not allowed, such as the bathroom or kitchen table while eating meals.
  • Switch phones off or leave them out of reach when with family or friends. Just put them in a different room
  • Some people, when out for dinner or social event, make an agreement that all phones are placed in the centre of the table, and the first person to reach for the phone during the meal has to pay the bill
  • Build time-out session into your day – 30 minutes without your phone. Build up to longer times or add extra time-outs.
  • Use Apps that block social media notifications for particular times you need no distraction

Technology is great. There are so many benefits and I love my phone, but sometimes it is a relief to be without it. So now I’m weaning myself away from my phone, to leave it at home and enjoy what I’m doing without distraction and to give the people I’m with my full attention. Give it a go, you might just find you enjoy it.

Photos by Marianne Masculino and Birgerking