This is the second part of the Coping with Your Caregiver’s/Parent’s Mental Illness blog post. In this post, we will identify actions you can take to cope by reducing stress.

 

5. Find ways to express your feelings

Expressing your feelings can help you get your thoughts and emotions out while allowing you to reflect on situations and feelings to get a more better picture of where you’re at. Also, it lets you express emotions like anger and frustration without hurting anyone. You can do things like:

  • Write
  • Paint
  • Act in plays
  • Play music
  • Draw
  • Find a hobby where you feel like you can express yourself

Painting of a white teenager with medium length black wavy hair and round black rimmed glasses.

6. Practice self care

Self care is taking the time to support yourself. Your needs are just as important as your caregiver’s or parent’s. Figure out your needs and take care of them to improve your well-being. This may include:

  • Eating healthy food
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Taking a nice bath
  • Scheduling time to do relaxing activities

 

7. Set Goals

Too many times, we set long term goals and get discouraged. That’s why it’s important to set short term goals that complement your long term goals and steps you’ll take every day to achieve these goals.

  • Set weekly goals
  • Set monthly goals
  • Set annual goals

 

First think about the big picture, then ask yourself questions about what you want in your life. It can be as broad as “I want to get fit.” Write down a few of these general statements. Then think of or research things that would help get you to that goal.

 

For example, you might want to be able to run a 5 kilometer marathon. To do this, you could start with smaller goals like a 1 minute run and 2 minute speed walk so you can slowly build on that over a time period you’re comfortable with. These serve as miniature goals that you complete along the way to your big goal. This way you build confidence and empower yourself towards accomplishing the next goal.

Legs with running shoes running on the highway where the double yellow solid lines are.

8. Build self esteem

When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to have more energy.

  • Aim to accomplish things instead of aiming for perfection
  • Understand that mistakes you make can be an opportunity to learn
  • Try new things
  • Recognize what is changeable and what isn’t
  • Help others because it will make you feel good about yourself
  • Compliment yourself more often
  • Smile often because it helps release endorphins that improve your mood
  • Do things that you enjoy and that come easy to you. We’re always trying to do what we’re bad at.

 

9. Help yourself

Part of helping yourself means asking yourself questions like “Am I making enough time for myself?” and being in touch with how you’re feeling. You might notice that you’re not feeling good for long periods of time because you have a lot on your mind and/or a lot of responsibilities.

  • Practice saying no. You don’t always have to do everything that comes your way. For example, if someone asks you for a favour but you have a huge to-do list, it’s okay to say no.
  • If you feel like your role in the family is overwhelming, try asking for help from other people who are supporting your caretaker or parent. Keeping open communication can be the key to solving some of your problems.
  • If you start to feel like your well-being is deteriorating, talk to a mental health professional

 

10. Talk to people about what you’re experiencing

Talking to people can be therapeutic and it can even give you perspective on why you feel the way you do.

  • Trusted friends/family
  • Counsellors
  • People in group therapy
  • Call a kid’s help line
  • Research for local resources
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