This article covers:
– What is self-care when helping someone else?
– Self-care strategies when helping someone else
What is self-care when helping someone else?
Self-care means anything that you do to preserve your mental and physical health. Self-care is a priority when you are helping or looking after someone else with a mental illness. This might include activities or times that you spend maintaining your own well-being.
Whether you are a parent, family member or friend, it is likely that you spend time worrying about your loved one. Sometimes people can neglect taking care of themselves when they are busy supporting someone else. Self-care practices are essential for you to avoid stress and mental health problems as you care for your loved one.
Self-care strategies when helping someone
Below is an example list of ten things that could be considered as self-care strategies:
1. Understanding your limits
It is important to know what you can and can’t do for the person. Knowing the limits of how far you can go to help them will help you to avoid stress in the long run.
For example, you may be able to provide emotional support but will not be able to provide the type of help that they would get from a professional. Knowing your limits will also help you to not feel guilty in thinking that you could have done more.
2. Take a break
One of the most helpful things you can do for yourself is to take a break. You might take short or long breaks in between supporting your loved one. This will help you to preserve your well-being by allowing you to have moments to yourself to fulfil your own needs. This way you will not feel overwhelmed and can continue to provide support for your loved one.
3. Keep an eye on your own mental health
Your own well-being is also a priority. Keeping track of how you are feeling, and coping will be helpful for you to know when it is time to take a break.
Some common signs that you need to take extra care can include feeling sad, irritable, exhausted, having difficulty to sleep and high levels of stress.
4. Doing things that you love
Whether this means putting on your favourite TV series, going on a walk or calling a friend, as long as it is safe, make time for it. These activities will bring you pleasure and will help you to maintain a balance between doing things for someone else and for yourself.
5. Spend time with supportive people
When you are caring for someone with a mental illness, it can be easy for you to feel isolated. Supportive people in our lives provide a good support network and make us feel like we are not alone.
You might find it helpful to connect with loved ones for a quick chat or a deep discussion. This might help you to ease the pressure off because you will be the one receiving the support.
6. Ask for help if you need it
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to support someone else, especially if you are doing it alone. Do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Perhaps other family members can help out.
If you need help for yourself, you might want to think about visiting the GP or speaking to a mental health expert. This will put you in a better position to be able to provide support and care for your loved one.
7. Physical activities and lifestyle changes
Having a healthy lifestyle will help you to feel good from the inside out. This might include doing any kind of physical activity such as walking, cycling, running, dancing, strength training, yoga, Zumba and eating a diet that includes good nutrients for the body. It is also very important to get enough sleep.
8. Make time for therapeutic activities
It is helpful to spend time doing activities that help you to calm down and clear your mind. This might include doing mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, going for a hike, spending time in nature or engaging in positive self-talk.
9. Reduce stimulants consumption and other drugs
Some people believe that alcohol and cigarettes are helpful for coping with stressful situations. But it is useful to consider the overall impact of these stimulants on your life and whether it is healthy. These stimulants can be addictive, so it is important to try to cut down and to know your limits.
10. Be kind to yourself
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with kindness in the same way you would to a friend. Know that you can only do so much when helping someone else.
Talk to yourself as though you were talking to a friend. You would not be harsh to a friend, so why should you be hard on yourself? Being compassionate towards yourself is the best way to be kind to yourself.
List of useful resources
To read their information on self-care and helping others with a mental illness, you can click here to access the link.
To read their information on coping when supporting someone else, you can click here to access the link.
Rethink Mental Illness
To read their information on self-care and supporting others with a mental illness, you can click here to access the link.