Caring for Yourself While Caring for Others

Today, the average teenager and young adult suffer from anxiety levels of psychiatric patients in the 1950s. We live in a fast moving world and sometimes you just need to slow down and catch your breath. Odds are that one of your friends could be suffering from depression. Here’s a list of things you can do to care for someone with depression.

Stay in touch 

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While it is important to check up on your friends and lend an ear; it is also important to give them space when they require it. Don’t expect them to answer your texts or calls every day.

Take them outside

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Plan something fun for the two of you to do that you know they would enjoy! A day at the park or beach. Maybe go out to their favorite restaurant or walking around your local art museum or even a work out day. If they’re not up for that, even going out for a walk is beneficial.

Help them clean up

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People who suffer from mental illness will at times let their living and work space get quite messy. Offer to help them clean up and organize. A clean room and desk will lighten the space.

Encourage them to write their feelings

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Writing out how your day went and how you felt will help them keep a log of how their mental illness effects their day to day life. This will also force them to get out any repressed feelings they have and help them to move on. If they don’t already have one, get them a journal and remind them to write in it.

Remind them to eat

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Send them a quick text saying “remember to eat!” because sometimes when we are so caught up in our own heads and thoughts these simple things will slip through the gaps.

Remind them to pray 

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In my experience, there came a time in my life where I physically could not get up and pray and then I would feel guilty and the cycle would continue. Remind your friend that praying is the most important and they should make the effort to get back on track with their Salah (prayer) if they have been skipping them. It is undeniable that the words of Allah (SWT) bring comfort to the heart and soul.

Help them get on a schedule

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Sleeping late and not sleeping enough is a huge problem. Encourage them to sleep early and wake up early and plan productive activities throughout the day.

Encourage them to seek help

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Don’t be discouraged that you can’t help them get rid of their depression. At the end of the day, you are just a friend and not their therapist. There is only so much that you can do. Don’t feel guilty for not doing enough because they aren’t getting better. If they seem to not improve don’t let them isolate themselves and help them get the help that they need.

Most importantly, don’t burn yourself out trying to help other people. Take a step back when you feel it is necessary.

As humans, we tend to be happier when we are around generally happy people; the same way spending extended periods of time with someone who is depressed will eventually have an effect on your mood as well. In my experience, I had a friend who was depressed and in attempts to help her, my own mental health suffered. Some days it would be hard to even talk to anyone because of how drained I felt all the time. It’s easy to feel “burned out” when you put so much of yourself into someone else. So if you need to take a step back that’s okay. Read this list backwards and remind yourself of all these things as well.

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“How will you be a light for others if you burn yourself out?”

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