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Self-care: 13 ways to support yourself and someone you love through a mental health crisis

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Self-care: 13 ways to support yourself and someone you love through a mental health crisis

Whether you are living with a mental illness, or caring for someone who does, making the decision to actively engage in 'self-care' is important.

Self-care includes any intentional actions you can take towards caring for your own physical, mental and emotional health. These actions are often quite simple, and need not take up a lot of time, or cost a lot of money.

We are all different, so take time to reflect on what works for you.

Here are 13 ideas to help you get started on a self-care plan that works for you

1 - Eat a healthy, balanced diet and eat at regular times each day.

2 - Remain physically active in a way that you enjoy (walking, yoga, stretching, jogging or playing a team sport).

3 - Get an adequate and consistent amount of sleep each night (go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and aim for around 8 hours a night).

4 - Stay in touch with friends and family who encourage and support you.

5 - Establish a regular night out with your partner, a friend or a family member (weekly, monthly).

6 - Do something you enjoy. Take up a new hobby or reconnect with an activity you've done in the past (cooking, reading, gardening, photography, listening to music)

7 - Learn to identify your stress indicators; short temper, mood swings, withdrawal from friends or family, feeling overwhelmed and drained. Use these indicators as a reminder to take some 'me' time to unwind. You will be more understanding, supporting and calmer with your loved one.

8 - Set boundaries and recognise your own limitations. It's okay to say 'no' to others when you need to seek therapy for yourself.

9 - Talking things out can help. You can reach out through a counsellor, psychologist, or peer support group (SANE Help Centre – 1800 18 SANE (7263), or saneforums.org).

10 - As a wonderful SANE Speaker said ‘Get educated, because knowledge is power.’ Not only will this help the person who is unwell, but it will help your own wellbeing and confidence.

11 - Listen. Sometimes people just want someone to hear them, to feel heard. Don't judge. And don’t assume feedback is criticism. If we actually hear what our loved one is saying, and try not to take any feedback personally, then we can improve the relationship for both the person living with mental illness and the carer. Sometimes people just want someone to hear them, to feel heard. They may not need you to 'fix' the issue or provide solutions.

12 - Know that it’s ok to be gentle with yourself and to take things more slowly. We live in a ‘rush, rush, rush’ culture that encourages mindless busyness. Generally this just serves to make us anxious rather than more productive. Take your time to consider how best to spend your time today. What will make you feel calmer and happier?

13 - Understand that the real connections in our lives run deep, deeper than external opinions and attitudes, and deeper than anyone outside our bond can ever comprehend. Trust these bonds are strong enough to enable you to give yourself time and space when you need it.

More to read . . .

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