Looking After Yourself While Supporting Someone You Love Through A Mental Health Condition/Crisis
Supporting someone with a mental health condition is a responsibility you probably don’t expect but find yourself entrusted with.
Whether it’s a child, parent, partner, sibling or anyone else you care about, this can be exacting on your own mental and emotional resilience. This is precisely why looking after yourself in the process of caring for someone else – especially someone with mental health issues – is important.
But how do you look after yourself and establish healthy boundaries while ensuring you’re meeting the needs of someone else? In our post, we provide you with a few tips on how you can stay on top of your mental and physical health while supporting someone with a mental health condition.
Speak to a therapist if you’re struggling with the pressures of caregiving
While it’s perfectly normal to feel your mental balance thrown askew, it’s ill-advised to neglect what you may be feeling as a result of caring for someone suffering from mental health issues. Remember, this is not an easy process – it’s natural to feel overwhelmed, upset or angry.
If these feelings become unmanageable and taking a break is not an option, make time to speak to a therapist who can give you unbiased advice and guidance. Alternatively, you can also prevent your frustration from building up by speaking to a confidante you trust or by joining one or a few of the various support groups that exist, specifically for mental health caregivers.
Regardless of who you turn to, it’s important that you receive community support while caring for someone with a mental health condition.
Make time for yourself
Given that supporting someone you love can seem challenging or overwhelming from time to time, it’s important to manage your stress by taking time off for yourself.
During this time, we recommend that you do something you enjoy and one that relaxes you completely and helps you break away from your role as a caregiver.
Taking long walks, going out with friends or your partner, cooking, painting, meditating and other pastimes, when undertaken regularly, can make the pressures of looking after a mental health patient more manageable.
Be truthful to yourself and understand yourself
Being truthful to yourself is absolutely necessary during this time. If you can’t be honest with yourself about whether you need support or need a little time off, maintaining this type of relationship with the person you’re watching over is untenable.
Be more mindful about your mood, feelings, or anything else you may be experiencing that’s negatively affecting you. Self-talk is a therapeutic technique that can help you work through some of your feelings, but it’s just the beginning of getting more help if you need it.
Take care of your physical health with a nutritious diet and exercise
Looking after your emotional and mental wellbeing isn’t the only thing that matters. As a caregiver, you also need to be physically healthy for both yourself and the person you care about.
Try and incorporate healthier food into your diet, depending on your needs and requirements. It’s also important to exercise frequently throughout the week, not just to make sure that you’re maintaining your physical health but also getting a much-needed endorphin boost as well.
Accept that there’s only so much you can do
This one is easily one of the most important tips we can give you.
While looking after someone with a mental health condition is a truly selfless act, you can’t be a superhero in every situation. There will be moments when you feel helpless and will not be able to do anything beyond sitting by their side and supporting them. This is an unavoidable part of caring for a mental health patient.
In these moments, find ways to ground yourself and remember that you are showing them you care just by being by their side. Sometimes, this is enough.
Take care of yourself to do the best by someone with a mental health condition
People with mental health conditions need someone steady by their side, especially during the recovery process. The only way you can be a reliable and effective caregiver is by, first, making sure that you are physically and mentally fit.