Looking after yourself

There are many reasons for helping someone. Students in the past have indicated some of the following reasons:

    • Compassion for a friend
    • They don’t like seeing their friend distressed
    • It is all part of the role of being a friend
    • Feeling bad about seeing someone distressed
    • Distracted the Helper from their own problems
    • Guilt
    • Part of religious doctrine – stating they should help others
    • Previous experience of a bad situation means you can be helpful
    • Reciprocity – help will be returned
    • Helping someone is very rewarding
    • Makes you feel better about yourself
    • Someone asked for help
    • If the distressed person is feeling better it makes life easier for the helper
    • In relation to group work at tertiary institution, helping someone having problems in the group might have benefits for the whole group

Occasionally, however, it can be overwhelming to assist someone else with their distress or mental health problem. You may also worry about meeting your own needs or your study and work demands. It is much easier to help others if you are feeling good about yourself, so if you are feeling distressed from dealing with a friend’s distress try some of the following:

    • Exercise! Just do it because it works!
    • Get 8 hours sleep – yes, it will help your mental health
    • Schedule time to do something enjoyable that you like. This is really important. Don’t forsake who you are and what you like.
    • Spend some relaxed time with a friend
    • Try some of the relaxation exercises from this site
    • Say positive things to yourself, that is, don’t be bringing yourself down with critical self thoughts.
    • Eat well, don’t live on crappy take out food
    • Ask for help if you need it (check out the links pages). You could also seek advice from someone you feel comfortable with, or a health professional.

Remember that you can seek advice from counsellors and various organisations on how to help your friend and you can discuss with them the toll it may be taking on you. They will be able to give you advice. You don’t have to help all by yourself. Professionals may need to take over assisting your friend if it is warranted.

References

Take the Distress Test