Caregivers for the Emotionally & Mentally Ill: 10 Stress-Busters

“I‘m doing the best I can caring for Julie. She’s having such a hard time. Oh, I’m hanging-on; but I could sure use some help with the stress.”

We began a two-part series yesterday on caregiver stress for those attending to someone enduring an emotional and/or mental illness. The concept was prompted by a telling study I came upon. Here’s a link to yesterday’s piece, which details the work.

Today, I’ll recap the study and offer 10 Stress-Busters.


Interestingly, the study pointed-out that caring for the emotionally/mentally ill can be more heart and gut-wrenching than providing care for someone suffering from dementia.

The bottom-line of the work…

The willingness and ability to be flexible with life-goals (work, school, relationships, leisure time, etc.) protect caregivers from depressive symptoms. And that reduces the potential for relying upon self-blame and substances to endure their circumstances.

Caregivers who over-extend themselves – attempting to take on new life-goals – increase their levels of stress.

10 Stress-Busters

Those caring for the emotionally and mentally ill give so much of themselves. Here are 10 Stress-Busters just for them (you)…

  1. Renew your commitment to yourself, and the one for whom you care, on a daily basis. If this becomes difficult, it’s time to take a look and seek help.
  2. As you consider taking-on a new life-goal (work, school, relationships, leisure time, etc.), think about whether it needs to be an addition or substitution.
  3. Maintain your physical health – eat well, sleep sufficiently, and exercise.
  4. Stay connected with family members and/or friends.
  5. Not only ask for help when times get tough, but have a call-list within finger’s reach.
  6. Make sure you’re tied-in with as many community/online resources as possible.
  7. Maintain a “me-time” regimen – getting-out, meditating, journaling, yoga, mindfulness work, etc.
  8. Don’t stuff! It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling – which, at times, may be resentment and anger. Get it out and process. If you have difficulty doing it on your own, turn to a family member or friend. Consider a counseling relationship.
  9. Learn to say no! Boundaries and assertiveness are crucial. There’s only so much of you to go around.
  10. At least once a day, take the time to give yourself the reassurance and love you deserve. You’re an extraordinary person, and hearing that from you is so powerful.

Faith and Her Mother/It’s a Wrap

Faith was a 24-year-old paranoid schizophrenic. She was presently living at home, and she was going through a time of disturbing impulsivity.

Her mother called asking for a home-visit. Certainly, Faith was the focus of the call. But when I went eye-to-eye with her mother, I really wondered who deserved the most attention.

She looked emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Who wouldn’t?

Are you caring for someone enduring an emotional and/or mental illness? Don’t ever forget – you have today’s and tomorrow’s too.

Care for yourself!