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When you’re concerned about a young person, it’s easy to focus on their situation and their needs first. But if you want to be able to give them support then caring for yourself is important too.
Living with ongoing, and sometimes intense, stress can be draining and exhausting – physically, mentally and emotionally. If you don’t look after yourself, then your own health, wellbeing and ability to cope with future events can be negatively affected. It’s not being selfish – it’s being smart!
“I’m on alert all the time. I am so worried and feel so helpless. I just want her to get back to her old self again. I am trying so hard with her, but I’m getting so, so tired.” - Jen
“I’d be thinking about how to help my son most of the time. I got forgetful at work and couldn’t concentrate on anything. I started to explode with anger over even small stuff, which didn’t help. A friend pointed out how awful I looked and that I was drinking most nights. I wouldn’t be much good to my boy if I didn’t get myself sorted out.” - Ali
If you are feeling extremely stressed it might be a good idea gain some advice and extra support for yourself. Here are some ways to ask for help.
Te Whare Tapa Whā is a way of understanding how to stay well in all aspects of life. If we think about our wellbeing as a wharenui or meeting house, then all our four walls need to be equally strong for the building to stand strong. The four walls represent the physical, spiritual, social and mental or emotional aspects of our lives.
Here are some ways you could help yourself to stay well in all aspects of life:
You could join a sports team, or go for a walk or run. Eat healthy meals and try to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water. Do things that help you relax, pop a reminder somewhere so you do it often.
Spend time with family, friends and people who make you feel good, and you trust. Learn about your whakapapa, or your cultural identity. Think about and identify the parts of your life where you feel like you belong.
These are the things that build someone up and give them a strong sense of identity. Write down the things that make you who you are. Do you have a faith or religion you could draw strength from? You could also go for a bush walk, sit by a river or beach or get in touch with nature in some way.
How do you show your emotions to others? Try to understand and express how you are feeling. You could find new words for different emotions, write down how you’re feeling, draw something or play some music. You can also get extra help or find someone to talk to if you need it.
The Mental Health Foundation's Five Ways To Wellbeing is a fantastic resource to help you remember the five things in life that help us stay happy, healthy and well, by giving small examples to practice the Five Ways each day.