When you have a close friend or family member who is experiencing depression, anxiety or maybe even suicidal thoughts, it can take a toll on your life, too. Although it may initially sound selfish, it’s important for you to take care of yourself and you mental health first. This is important for your own well-being, but also for you to be able to provide support for others.
Being able to take care of yourself and your mental wellness is extremely important to your ability to provide support for a friend or family member who struggles with their own mental wellness. If you don’t take the time and space to preserve your mental wellness, you will not be able to live your life in a healthy way, or be able support your loved one in the way that you want to.
Here are a just a few tips on how you can take steps to take care of your mental wellness, while providing support to a friend or family member who is struggling with mental wellness:
Take time for yourself.
Supporting someone who is working to cope with depression or anxiety isn’t always easy to handle. Instead of getting frustrated with the situation or the individual, try give yourself space to breathe. Mental wellness is often a long, hard journey for many people, and while it’s important to support your loved ones, taking the time to assess how you’re doing mentally and emotionally is equally important.
Stay involved in the activities you enjoy.
Whether this is reading a book at the beach on a sunny day, or practicing yoga on the weekends, make sure you are allowing yourself time to enjoy the things you love in life. This helps to eliminate stress and negative emotions that you may be experiencing when you have a friend or family member who is depressed or suicidal. This also allows you the space to bring positivity into your life without pressuring your loved one into joining you when they may not be in the mental space to do so.
Defer to a professional for help.
Sometimes the support of a friend or family member alone is not enough to ensure the long term mental well-being of an individual. This is especially true in cases where someone is having suicidal thoughts. If you feel that this is the case, it is important to help guide your loved one to get the professional help that they may need. Neglecting to do this may be harmful, not only for your friend, but also for you, as you may quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of support you may feel obligated to provide. Being a part of someone’s support network is a healthy way to distribute the responsibility, and professional help can be an important factor in their overall support system.
If you need to, give yourself permission to take a step back.
Sometimes, there is only so much that you can do to support someone with a mental illness. If you feel as though the individual is not accepting your help or support, take a step back. Your mental well-being is your top priority and while it may be hard to see your friend in a challenging situation and feel unable to help, you have to take care of yourself in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to violent or destructive behaviors, your personal well-being and safety is extremely important and you should not feel obligated to put yourself in harm’s way for someone else’s mental wellness.