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Self Care While Helping a Friend

Supporting a friend with mental health issues can be overwhelming. Theses #mymTips are about self care while helping a friend.

Knowing about mental illnesses is a good 1st step to supporting a friend. Get informed here:

Supporting a friend can mean feeling like you're on call 24/7, which is impossible. Help them identify others they can call for backup.

Sometimes you need you own support when helping a friend. Make a list of 2-3 adults you could turn to if you need some advice/support

When someone is struggling with their mood, they're not at their best. Try not to take things personally.

Helping a friend requires boundaries. Define yours and communicate them clearly.

Helping a friend who's experiencing mania can be tough. Try to help keep them safe, but take care of you too.

Being exposed to other people's struggles can cause compassion fatigue and deplete your energy.

If you're helping a friend and they ignore your boundaries, you can take a break. Breathe, communicate, come back when ready.

Feeling frustrated when helping a friend doesn't make you a bad person. Have a 1 on 1 conversation & try to move forward.

Try and hang out with your friends in environments that will be free of triggers so you both can be comfortable and have fun.

Speak up and let your friend know if you are worried about their behaviour. Having a chat about it is better for both of you.

If you're hurt or inconvenienced by your friend's substance use, talk to them about it when you're both ready, calm and sober.

If helping a friend is taking up a lot of time, set some aside (a certain day or time) that is for YOU only to do things you love.

Treatment is a process. Relapse is common. Be aware of this and try to be supportive as your friend adjusts.

Supporting a friend can cause compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma. Check out the infographic to learn the signs.

When discussing a potential conflict, use "I" statements to explain your feelings and how you've been impacted.

Being a support person can consume all your waking thoughts. Try these mindfulness techniques from @anxietybc

Feelings of frustration and sadness can overwhelm support people. Consider trying a combat class, like boxing, to release tension.

If you feel overwhelmed while supporting a friend & feel like crying - it's ok. It releases toxins, tension and more.

Giving up friends or hobbies you love to support a friend will ultimately lead to resentment. Don't give up on what you love.

Try keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings while acting as a support person. It could be good for both of you!

If you're supporting a friend with a mental illness, make sure to celebrate milestones with them to encourage moving forward.

Supporting a friend = knowing what is & isn't your responsibility. Make a list of things you can't control. Consult it regularly.

Do not isolate yourself while supporting a friend. Schedule time for your other friends and family. You need support too!

There are support groups for people caring for loved ones with mental illness. Here's a list from @cmhaOntario

There's a difference between "enabling" & "empowering". Knowing the difference can help avoid frustration.

Being informed about your friend's illness is helpful but being an "armchair psychologist" is not. Your "advice" may cause stress.

Being a support person doesn't include policing your friend's choices/actions. If you find yourself doing this, consider taking a break.

Fill out a safety plan with your friend. It'll help you both to identify that you're not their only support.

Having trouble setting boundaries with your friend? Fill in the blanks: It's not ok for people to ____ & I have permission to ____.