This is for the family members of folks with mental illnesses. Please hear me when I say I understand that you too are affected by your family member’s mental illness. Mood, anxiety, and addiction diagnoses require that social, educational, and/or occupational functioning is negatively impacted. If the external world (i.e. work, school) is negatively impacted, then family must feel the negative impacts as well. That being said, as the family member of a loved one with mental illness, it is important for you to practice healthy self care.

As a family member, try to set reasonable and healthy boundaries with your ill family member and others. Do not overload yourself with tasks and risk becoming so overwhelmed that you experience burn out. I encourage all family members to have at least 30 minutes of down time for themselves to recharge their own batteries.

If you read my first entry, the following recommendations will make sense: take your vitamins daily, exercise (e.g. park at the back of the lot and walk to the building or take the stairs), and get restful sleep. Stress, anxiety, and depression weaken your immune system, over time put strain on the heart muscle and circulatory system, and increase pain. Practicing good self care can strengthen your immune system and heart and help with pain management, keeping you, the family member, in good health

On top of these things, talk to a friend (not another family member) to vent and seek support. If you still need more help seek the help of a professional therapist. If you take of yourself and charge your battery you will be better equipped to be involved in your loved one’s treatment and help them take care of themselves.

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