Does stress, anxiety, depression, or another mental condition affect you daily? If you’re dealing with any of these issues, rest assured you’re not alone. Millions of Americans live with some type of mental health issue. Now the question is, how do you handle it?
If you have a wonderful partner, great friends, and good co-workers, you probably want it to stay that way. Chances are you’d like your mental health struggles to impact those relationships as little as possible. The good news is that you can safeguard your relationships to a large degree. To protect them, consider these mental health management strategies.
1. Consult a Professional
In many cases, getting the help you need is as simple as talking to a healthcare provider. Armed with the information you supply, they can assess your condition. Based on their evaluation, they will make recommendations for mental health treatment.
Depending upon your needs, your provider could suggest a prescription medication to help manage your anxiety or depression. Or you might be a candidate for talk therapy. If that’s the case, you may have a choice between in-person or telehealth visits. Choose the most convenient option for you.
2. Communicate With Loved Ones
Healthy relationships are grounded in good communication. Set the stage for openness with your loved ones and focus on speaking kindly to each other. This creates an environment where you feel safe speaking up about what’s important — especially if you need help.
The kicker is remembering that no one can read your mind. You may feel strongly about something, but no one will know if you don’t speak up. If you’re sad because you haven’t spent quality time with your partner lately, say so. Being direct about your needs can reduce the impact of stress and anxiety.
3. Nix the Negative Self-Talk
This can be a twofold issue. First, there’s an outdated stigma that is still attached to mental health struggles. Millions of people are affected, though, so don’t get down on yourself simply because you’re part of the group.
Second, sometimes stress, anxiety, or depression may lead you to have negative thoughts. It might make you overly critical of your job performance. Or maybe you’re starting to question whether your friends enjoy spending time with you. Stop, step back, and give yourself a reality check. There’s a good chance you’re overthinking things and need to reframe your thoughts.
4. Don’t Isolate Yourself
One of the best parts of any relationship is spending time with the person. That can be difficult if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety. It’s tempting to retreat to being alone. Although it may feel like the right thing to do at the moment, it will also hurt your relationships.
If being around others is overwhelming, there are still things you can do to stay connected. Send emails or texts to your friends and co-workers. Leave notes around for your partner to express your feelings and show how much they matter to you. These are all good ways to foster the connection with your loved ones when you can’t physically be together.
5. Create a Support Plan
Dealing with anxiety or depression on your own sounds like the strong thing to do. But you don’t have to do it alone — in fact, doing so often hurts your relationships. Instead, build a support network you can turn to when you need help.
Be sure you’re including more than one person or mood-boosting activity. Different people and hobbies will assist you in different ways. A group text with friends might be a great way to lift your spirits. Enrolling in a Pilates class may help you manage stress. Even a simple calendar alarm can remind you to take any medication you need.
6. Plan for Bad Moods
No, this doesn’t mean scheduling times when you intend to be grumpy. That’s not going to help anyone — least of all you. Rather, this type of planning lets you prepare for how to handle the times when you feel upset. Think of it as an escape hatch for both you and your loved ones.
Talk with your partner or a friend about how you respond when you’re angry or sad. Let them know if there’s a point where they can feel comfortable pulling back. Tell them it’s OK if they have to leave the room or end a call. It’s useful to have a few key phrases rehearsed so when the time is right, they’ll know you need space.
7. Make Time for Kindness
It doesn’t matter how hard you try. Every day isn’t going to be a phenomenal one. That doesn’t mean you can’t inject some bright spots here and there. Taking the time to be actively positive will maintain and strengthen the relationships you value most.
Make it a goal to express one kind thing about your loved ones every day. If you admire their honesty, say so. Tell them if you appreciate their listening skills. It’s important to let the people who matter to you know they bring happiness to your life.
A diagnosis of anxiety or depression may mean you need additional help from time to time. It doesn’t mean your mental health issues should take over your life. It’s important to safeguard your relationships in healthy ways. Try these tactics, and you could see your relationship bonds get stronger over time.