We are all aware that caregivers face many obstacles when caring for a mentally ill loved one. Sometimes situations become overwhelming but there are ways to cope. Francine Waters, counselor at AMI-Quebec suggests her top four ways to de-stress.
1) Breathe! Doctors and fitness trainers alike recommend deep breathing. Here’s how to perform deep breathing effectively: Breathe in long, while filling your stomach and chest area with air. As you do this exercise, tense up all your muscles. Next breathe out slowly while consciously relaxing every limb in your body. Repeat several times.
2) Worrying about the future often is the source of a great deal of angst. Remind yourself to be and live in the present as the future is beyond your control and so it is pointless to wallow in this state.
3) Control what you can and let go of the rest is an important notion for caregivers. For example, your son lost his job. A caregiver can be a positive guide in this case. Perhaps you want to identify and help correct past mistakes – then trust and encourage that he will find another job. Realize that that is as much as you can do in the situation. Now he can commence living his own life and you, your own.
4) There is still much stigma and shame surrounding mental illness. You cannot control what society says but educating yourself will only teach you that mental illness is just that – an illness like any other illness. It deserves neither apologies, shame nor blame.