Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Periods of Stress

November 29, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I think I talk about stress and the impact it can have on our mental health often in this blog. Hopefully, it's not exceedingly boring. This blog is a bit different in topic. Yes, it focuses of taking care of ourselves during periods of stress, but also on how we can take care of those we love if they become ill---while knowing when to pull back.

Getting Out of Our Own Head

Often, particularly when we are first diagnosed with a mental illness, we cannot help but to focus on ourselves. Only ourselves. And this is normal--to a degree. When we are working to become stable it's all we can do to breathe, to stay alive, and make sure we take care of ourselves. Sometimes, once we become well, we can forget that other people struggle too. We can forget that we need to reach out to those who have helped us recover.

An example: A close friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with a mental illness. Bipolar disorder. She's part of 'the club' now and it's a club I would not wish on, well, I don't have any enemies, but you get my drift...

It was shocking. She's always been so level headed! So stable and lovely and here to hold my hand when times get rough. And they do. It's like clockwork. But she's sick now and she needs me. I go to her home and I cook and I clean and I hug her when she cries and asks me, me, when she will get better. Soon, I tell her, hang on. And I pray to a God that I am not sure exists that I can stay stable during this time. She needs me. Surely my illness will understand and back off until she is well again? Ah, if only we could control our brain chemistry...

How Do We Know When We Have to Pull Back...

How do we know when stress is becoming too much--even if it is focused on helping someone else? I have had to figure this one out and it's been hard. She needs me but I need me to stay well. I had to pull back when I noticed my own mood changing. When nights were sleepless and I wasn't eating enough. When things started blurring together and life not making much sense.

Point in case: We need to put our recovery first. Figure out how to draw the line during periods of stress. Figure out what you can do without risking your stability. She needs me and I am giving her all I can but, in the end, I am useless to her or anyone else if I become ill myself.

Take care of yourself first.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, November 29). Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Periods of Stress, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

December, 3 2012 at 4:09 am

Thank you both for your words. I too have recently been slapped with the realisation that I need to put myself first. I am not used to it and its quite unnerving at times but I remind myself I prefer to be happy and being healthy is key to achieving that.
Good luck to all of us and may we have a good day today.

Dina Marie
November, 29 2012 at 9:43 pm

You bring up some important points in this post. It took me awhile to learn, and then accept, that my health needs to come first. At times it is still hard for me to come to terms with that. I believe that people have an innate desire to help others and when that opportunity is taken away, not by our choice, it stinks. When I am well I love to help and I love that I am able to share the things that I have learned about mental illness. My motto is, "Pass on the Compassion" and I do that when I am healthy, but if I don't take care of myself, I am of no good to anyone. My husband is very supportive and if I have over extended myself he will help me pull back and once again remind me that I have to put myself first. At times it feels selfish. I want to be able to function like everyone else, I want to be involved in "normal" ways but I have to continually remember that I don't want to be back in the hospital. That is our main goal. If I ever feel that I am being judged by my inability to function in a way that society pushes on us, all I need to do is read my journals from back in 2003 and the trauma of my hospitalizations comes back in full force and I renew my resolve to put my health first, for not only my sake, but for my family's as well. It is always helpful to hear that other's experience the same struggles. Thank you.

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