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Protection Civile et Operations d'Aide Humanitaire Européennes

Girls in northeast Nigeria share their favourite ways to cope with stress

Girls holding up papers with texts how they cope with stress

In Nigeria, 4 out of 10 people live below the national poverty line. Among the most affected are girls living in rural areas or displaced.

Many girls live in unsafe environments, often facing the insecurity of being displaced again due to ongoing violence. This leaves them at risk of missing years of school, which has only been exacerbated due to COVID-19.

In addition, women and girls are particularly at risk of experiencing gender-based violence and gender discrimination, which can severely impact their mental health.

With EU humanitarian funding, the IRC has been able to offer young girls in north-eastern Nigeria spaces where they can learn in a supportive and nurturing environment.

These safe spaces have not only enabled these young girls to acquire valuable life skills, such as reading, but it has also allowed them to learn how to strengthen their emotional resilience.

We asked girls to share some of their favourite ways to cope with negative emotions. See some of their examples!

Photos © Etinosa Yvonne

Girl holding up a sign 'Count from ten to one'
18-year-old Fatima loves to make use of a technique called “belly breathing”. By counting down from 10 to 1 while taking deep breaths, the girls ground themselves. They become able to quiet their minds and reduce feelings of anxiety or anger.
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Girl holding up the text 'Stay calm'
16-year-old Amina puts an active effort into being mindful and staying calm, especially whenever she is on the verge of letting her negative emotions take the upper hand. She has learned to transform anger and frustration into moments of calm.
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Girl holding up 'Communicate' while making a phone call sign with her hand
When it came to dealing with younger children, 15-year-old Sadiya admits she used to have quite a short temper. However, she has seen a great change in her behaviour. “I didn’t know how to manage my anger, but now I do”.
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Girl holding up a paper 'Take a short walk'
Taking short walks is one of 16-year-old Fatima’s favourite ways to deal with moments in which her emotions seem too overwhelming: “Before I joined the sessions, I used to react to things with anger – but since I began attending, I have changed.”
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Girl holding up a sign 'Sing'
17-year-old Hauwa loves singing traditional Hausa songs to relax and put herself in a better mood. “Before every session, we all sing and dance together,” she says. Singing puts Hauwa in the right mindset to process complicated feelings.
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
3 girls holding up a sign 'Talk to friends'
But the girls know, if there’s one thing that always helps, it’s having good friends and loved ones around to talk through your feelings of anger or anxiety with.
© Etinosa Yvonne. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Publication date: 10/06/2022