Skip to main content
Gambling information, advice and support for young people

Five Steps to Self-Care if You Gamble

Written by guest blogger Verity

Self-care is about doing small things to take care of our own mental health. It could be taking a walk, reading a book or just having a chat with a friend. It can help you manage many situations in life, especially those which you may find difficult to deal with.

Gambling can be fun, but it also has the potential to cause harm. Gambling should also never become a way to help you deal with anything else in life you don’t feel able to cope with. The tips below can help you reduce your risk of harm, and protect your mental health if you gamble.

1. Set Yourself a Goal

Goal setting can be effective at changing unhealthy behaviours, so if there is something you want to change, make a plan.

To become an effective goal-setter try these five steps next time you’re trying to achieve something – anything!

  • Put your goal in writing
  • Be specific
  • Make it challenging, but keep it attainable
  • Make sure you’re committed
  • Get feedback, or reflect on your progress regularly

For more on goal setting and making your goals ‘S.M.A.R.T’, click here.

2. Find a Hobby

If you find yourself gambling more, perhaps as a way to escape from something else, focusing your mind on other activities can help.
Try out a range of positive activities whilst using a mood tracker app – this will help you figure out what activities work best for you. Some ideas include:

  • Sports/Dancing
  • Playing an instrument or writing music
  • Photography, painting or drawing
  • Walking outside, getting closer to nature in nearby parks/woods
  • Helping others – volunteering can help you too
  • Cooking/Baking

3. Keep a Diary or Journal

There are lots of different ways to manage your mental health, mood, and self-esteem. Keeping a record of how you feel in the form of a diary can be particularly helpful, and may help you identify what your ‘triggers’ are for certain emotions or behaviours (both positive and negative).

Here are three types of diaries or journals you could keep, either on paper, online or through a dedicated app:

  • Mood diaries: Tracking how you feel over time can help you increase your awareness of your emotions and look for patterns. If there is something that makes you feel better, you can try to incorporate more of that into your day, and if there is something that makes you feel worse you can try to reduce that.
  • Self-esteem diaries: These encourage positive journaling, which has been found to help create feelings of well-being and self-esteem.Here are 2 examples of Self-Esteem diaries you can use:
    Self-esteem diary 15-18
    Self-esteem diary 11-14
  • Gratitude diaries: Gratitude can take only a few minutes a day but can have a significant impact on your life. Giving thanks can change your outlook and make your approach to life more positive overall – it may help problems feel more manageable too. There are scientifically proven benefits to developing an “attitude of gratitude” such as enhancing empathy and reduces aggression, strengthening relationships as you notice more of the positive things people do, and improving self-esteem. Taking a minute to find the good can help your mental health significantly – try writing down three things you’re grateful for, big or small, at the end of every day

4. Money Management

If you gamble, a top tip to do it safely is to set a time limit and a budget that you can stick to.

Before deciding to gamble, or buy loot boxes, you’ll need to know exactly what you can spend and when helping to reduce the low moments you might feel when you don’t have money. Once you’ve budgeted for all the important things, you’ll work out how much you can afford to gamble with, bearing in mind you’re more likely to lose this than you are to win! When you take control of your finances, you’ll generally feel in control and better able to enjoy the activities you take part in.

If you want help in managing money in other areas of your life, there’s a free money management tool you can use.

5. Set Yourself Boundaries

This is something that many people of all ages struggle with, but with some practice, you can develop this skill and it will be critical to your success. Boundaries are personal, and they help you protect the things that are important to you – e.g. time with your family, your personal development, time to do things you enjoy etc.

Setting boundaries at school, work, and home help to keep your relationships positive, reduces how much peer pressure impacts you, and helps you to stop engaging with activities when you’re running on empty. Set limits on things that you can tolerate, check-in with yourself and how you’re feeling about different interactions and allow yourself to take care of yourself, guilt-free.  If something is making you uncomfortable, putting boundaries in place – verbally, with others too – can also help us prevent unwanted habits such as gambling problems.

You can read more about boundaries and complete a boundary map we’ve put together here: Boundaries-Map.

By practising these self-care tips you should be able to enhance your mental health and reduce the risk of harm through gambling. If you want to know more activities you could do for self-care, download our 30-day self-care calendar below.