12 Ways to Manage Stress
You may want to try some new strategies to add to those you are already doing. Below are some common strategies that have worked for other relatives:
1. Focus on the Positives
What is going well? Sometimes, we focus only on the things that are going wrong, and forget about what is going well. Write a list of things that are going well for you.
2. Have Support Networks
Make a list of people you can talk to. They might be family, friends, healthcare staff, local support groups, local churches or any other groups who may offer what you need.
3. Work or Have Hobbies
Make sure you keep doing the things you enjoy. List the activities you do for yourself and what you get out of them.
4. Have a Break
You are only human and we all need a break sometimes. Write down the practical arrangements you would need to make to have a break/holiday. Find out about carer’s breaks using the resource section of this toolkit.
5. Set Boundaries You Can Live With
You can’t change other people’s behaviour, but you can set some boundaries about what you are willing to tolerate. This isn’t always easy and is a task that will require persistence – make sure your boundaries are realistic and that you are prepared to stick to them.
6. Look After Your Physical Health
Try to have regular sleep, regular healthy eating and some daily exercise. You’ll be surprised by how much better this can make you feel. The odd glass of wine or beer is okay, but don’t depend on the overuse of alcohol as a coping mechanism or method of relaxation.
7. Learn About Psychosis or Bipolar Disorder
This helps you know what you are dealing with. REACT should be a good start with this and will signpost you to other sources. Mental health services should also be able to provide you with information about psychosis or bipolar disorder and what support is available to you.
8. Set Realistic Expectations for You and Your Relative
For example, going straight back into full time degree study after an episode of psychosis or bipolar may be unrealistic. However, some part time study that can be built up on to return to the full time course may be more manageable for your relative.
9. Make Time to do Positive Things Together
Make a list of things you used to do together. What would be enjoyed now? It is important to accept that some activities may be difficult when your relative/friend is unwell but these may be re-introduced at a later date.
10. Do Activities That Make You Feel Relaxed
The nature of this varies from person to person; you need to work out what works best for you. Some relatives have found the following helpful: relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, gardening, hill walking.
11. Treat Yourself
Some people find going shopping or treating themselves to a coffee and a cake makes themselves feel a little less stressed. Treating yourself doesn’t have to be expensive, even just a face mask or a chocolate bar treat can help.
12. Use Humour
Some people find that their way of coping is through humour. Although it can be difficult to ever see a funny side to psychosis some relatives have found that they have looked back and laughed at some of their experiences. Interviews with relatives who have been through the early phases of psychosis have identified humour as an important thing that kept them going in difficult times.
Are there any new strategies that you think might work for you? Maybe pick one thing from this list you could try.