Nina’s Story: Overcoming Challenges and Building Self-Esteem 

Nina, a young student diagnosed with MS, faced difficulties in managing her workload, relaxing, and dealing with past traumas. Through a series of sessions with a wellbeing practitioner, Nina addressed these challenges and began improving her wellbeing and self-esteem. 

Workload management and relaxation techniques 

Nina had struggled with prioritising her workload and finding time to relax without feeling constant pressure to be working on school tasks. With the threat of fatigue having a negative impact on her MS, this was a priority. 

Introduced to the zones of regulation concept, Nina learned tools to manage stress while reinforcing the importance of taking breaks. 

By reflecting together on her study timetable, Nina realised the sheer extent of her workload and the need to include more personal time. We co-created a new timetable that included breaks, relaxation and leisure activities, such as watching TV with her mum. 

Challenging negative thoughts and anxiety 

In session, Nina delved into her past experiences of bullying which had affected her self-esteem and confidence, which led into discussions around people-pleasing behaviour. We also discussed her anxieties about university and making friends. 

After participating in group sessions on self-esteem, Nina continued to work on self-awareness, prioritising her own happiness and challenging negative thoughts. To manage anxious thoughts at night and improve her sleep, she created a visual timetable for the next day’s tasks.  

Overcoming trauma 

Nina came into one session upset about getting her hair done that weekend. Instead of the planned activity (completing a stress bucket), we leaned into a discussion about past trauma related to bullying and negative perceptions of Nina’s natural hair. Nina was able to disclose lots of feelings she has about her hair and why she struggles to accept her afro hair – for example, she will always wear braids to avoid getting comments about her natural hair. 

We used mood cards to reflect on past experiences and emotions, while activities from a self-esteem booklet encouraged her to focus on her positive qualities. Strategies like knitting and breathing exercises were explored to help her relax during hair appointments. She later found these to be helpful coping mechanisms. 

Embracing growth and confidence 

Nina reflected on the challenges of living with MS and feeling treated differently by others. She discussed the pressure of being a young black female and feeling the need to work harder to prove herself. 

Nina acknowledged her growth in self-awareness, reduced people-pleasing tendencies, and improved work-life balance. By overcoming anxiety about her exams, she had gained confidence in her academic abilities and prospects.  

Most importantly, she learned to challenge anxious thoughts and trust in her own capabilities, paving the way for a brighter future. 


Nina’s journey of self-discovery and resilience showcases the power of self-reflection, support, and using coping strategies in overcoming challenges and building self-esteem. Through taking part in sessions and self-improvement efforts, Nina transformed her mindset, improved her well-being, and embraced a more positive outlook on life.