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It is said that you can't pour from an empty cup. It's important to take care of yourself so that you have the energy to take care of others. Supporting a loved one through their mental illness can be stressful, taxing, and emotionally draining. While our loved ones need care, we cannot forget to care for ourselves.

Here are ways to ensure you are not neglecting your own mental health while supporting another through a crisis:

Support Groups

Therapy

  • Even if you're not struggling with mental illness yourself, consider seeing a counselor or therapist to help you process your own emotions and stress that come with supporting someone. Use the "Search for Help" button to search for providers in your area. 
  • If you cannot see a professional, talking about your stress with a trusted friend or relative may help eliviate tension.

Maintaining Romantic Relationships

Children with mental illnesses can put great strain on their parents, especially when their disorders manifest in impulsivity, defiance, exhausting rituals — or all of the above. Tantrums, meltdowns, or aggression towards playmates can alienate other families, making you feel isolated. Sometimes parents disagree about the diagnosis, or the kind of treatment a child needs. Sometimes one parent is obsessed with helping the child, and the other feels left out. Here are some tips to help support your marriage:,

  • Make time for your marriage. Devote 20 minutes daily to spend time with your spouse without talking about the children. Focus on each other.
  • Get a diagnosis you both trust. It's important to be on the same page about your chid's diagnosis so that you can agree on treatment. Both parents should participate in the decision about the course of treatment.
  • Remember you are on the same team. Both parents should agree to the same rules of discipline and setting limits. When parents are inconsistent in what they expect of their children, behavior can worsen. One parent tends to feel unsupported by their spouse when discipline in the household isn't consistent.

Technology

Self-Care Strategies

 Set Boundaries

  • As a caregiver or supporter of someone with mental illness, you have to set healthy boundaries to preserve your own well-being and emotional health. Boundaires are not selfish. While you want to care for others, you cannot do so without caring for yourself first. Remember that it's ok to say "no" if you don't have the time or energy to do something for another person.

Routines

  • Having a routine can lessen stress throughout the day.

Sleep Hygiene Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your mental well-being. When you sleep, your body and mind has the chance to heal itself and process information so you can handle your waking life better.

  • Try to stick to a sleep schedule to regulate your body.
  • Having a bedtime routine can help you fall asleep faster. Try journaling, meditating, or reading 20 minutes before bed.
  • Avoiding TV, video games, and other electronics 30 minutes before bed will help your brain wind down for sleep.

Nutrition- Sometimes stress or mental illness causes unexpected changes in appetite which can lead to under or over eating. Neglecting to properly nourish your body because of this can leave you feeling foggy-headed, dizzy, low-energy, and has harmful consequences on your health.  Listen to your body and choose foods you enjoy and leave you feeling energized and satisfied.

  • Some other helpful tips to remember:
    • Stay hydrated, especially in hot weather!
    • Sharing a meal with a friend or family can be a great way to connect.

Exercise- Self-care isn't just taking care of your mind, but your body too! Exercising releases endorphins in your brain, elevating your mood and lowering your stress. It also improves blood flow throughout the body, leaving you feeling refreshed and energized. There is no need to push yourself too hard or do a type of exericse you don't enjoy; even light activity like walking or playing sports can benefit your health. Inviting a friend or family member along with you can make exercising a fun, social activity too!

Tools to Help Manage Stress

  • Deep Breathing Exercises
    • Take in slow, deep breaths and breathe out slowly, focusing on the rise and fall of your lungs.
    • Practice deep breathing at least once a day. It's a great way to get your day started, center yourself during the day, or wind down for bed.
  • Music
    • Listening to music that matches your mood can help you to let out some energy and emotion.
    • Likewise, listening to soothing, relaxing music can help you calm down and unwind.
  • Hobbies
    • Any hobby or acitivity that brings you calmness without causing harm to yourself or others can be helpful for coping with stress. Some mindful activities you may enjoy or use to relax are:
      • Reading
      • Journaling
      • Playing with a pet
      • Coloring
      • Gentle yoga
      • Playing an instrument
      • Guided meditations
      • Going outside for a walk in your neighborhood or out to the park

The information on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, mental health providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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