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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 ____.

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