How to manage family issues and cope up with your deteriorating mental health
Check out this guide that outlines key practices to effectively manage family issues and foster a harmonious environment for mental well-being
In the challenging journey of life, family can be both a source of support and a potential minefield of stressors hence, balancing the complexities of family dynamics while safeguarding one’s mental health is a skill worth mastering. It is imperative to address familial challenges with strategies that not only preserve our mental health but also strengthen our bonds.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Neelam Mishra, Senior Rehabilitation Psychologist and Advisor at LISSUN, outlined key practices to effectively manage family issues and foster a harmonious environment for mental well-being -
- Identify the Sources of Strain: Start by pinpointing individuals within your family who may be negatively impacting your mental health. It’s essential to recognize those who offer minimal support or create additional stress. Identifying the source of your distress is the first step towards addressing it.
- Avoid Stressful Situations: When possible, steer clear of situations, gatherings, or discussions that trigger stress and anxiety. If a particular family event or topic consistently brings you down, it’s okay to excuse yourself or set boundaries to protect your mental health.
- Conflict Resolution: Learn healthy conflict resolution skills. This includes active listening, empathy, and finding mutually agreeable solutions. Effective conflict resolution can lead to more harmonious relationships within the family.
- Prioritise Self-Care: Self-care is crucial for maintaining mental well-being. Engage in activities that help you relax and rejuvenate. Listen to soothing music, have heart-to-heart conversations with loved ones, declutter your living space, and indulge in relaxing practices like taking a salt bath with scented candles.
- Read Uplifting Material: Cultivate the habit of reading, but opt for content that inspires and relaxes you. Choose motivational books, fiction, or any literature that takes your mind off your family issues. Reading can be a powerful escape and a source of mental respite.
- Stay Connected with Friends: Social support is invaluable. Make an effort to meet up with friends at least once a week or stay connected through calls and messages. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with friends can provide a fresh perspective and emotional relief.
- Journal Your Thoughts: Consider keeping a journal to express your emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Journaling is a therapeutic way to process your feelings and gain clarity on your family-related challenges. It can also serve as a record of your progress
- Seeking Professional Help: Sometimes, family issues may require the assistance of a mental health professional or family therapist. Don’t hesitate to seek help when needed. Therapy can provide valuable insights and strategies for navigating complex family dynamics.
Acknowledging that managing family issues and coping with deteriorating mental health can be challenging, Dr Himani Narula, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician Director and Co-Founder of Continua kids, said, “Studies have shown that poor family environments, such as family conflict and a lack of warmth and affection, can prevent individuals in the family from receiving emotional support, as well as have difficulty expressing their emotions, which can cause mental health problems. Family stressors may differ across families, but the most frequently observed stressors include financial issues, child-parent issues, and marital discord.”
She highlighted, “In addition, mental illness can create stress due to the disruption they cause in normal functioning. If you're experiencing deteriorating mental health, it's crucial to reach out to a mental health professional, such as a developmental paediatrician, adolescent mental health expert, psychologist, counsellor, or psychiatrist. They can provide you with the necessary guidance, support, and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Honest and open communication with family and therapist is essential when dealing with family issues.”
Dr Himani Narula advised, “Express your feelings in the right way and listening to others perspectives with open mind is essential. Establish healthy boundaries to protect your mental health. Clearly communicate your limits to family members and be assertive when necessary. Prioritise self-care practices, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques like mindfulness or meditation. Practice mindfulness techniques to manage stress and stay grounded. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga can help reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity.”
She added, “Organise your time effectively to balance family issues and self-care. Learn coping strategies from a mental health expert. If your mental health deteriorates to the point where medication is necessary, consult a psychiatrist. Medication, when used in conjunction with therapy, can be an effective treatment for various mental health conditions. At the end it is important to know that everyone's situation is unique, don't hesitate to seek professional help when needed, as mental health issues and family conflicts can have serious consequences if left unaddressed.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Austin Fernandes, Psychiatrist at Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai's Powai, said, “Life throws so many challenges and among them, navigating family issues can be one of the most complex and demanding experiences. These challenges frequently have a negative impact on our mental health, leaving us feeling helpless and overwhelmed. It is very important to understand these challenges and implement strategies to make you cope with such family issues and prioritise and safeguard your mental well-being.” He suggested -
- Open Communication: The key to resolving family conflicts is effective communication. Make a safe space where everyone may voice their opinions and concerns that is safe and judgment-free. Listen carefully to everyone's suggestions and understand them deeply, encouraging harmony within the family by actively and sympathetically listening to each member.
- Set Boundaries: For successful relationships and bonds, it is very important to have clear boundaries. Be firm while expressing your requirements and limitations with others. This makes sure that everyone's thoughts and opinions are appreciated and acknowledged.
- Seek Professional Support: If family issues become too difficult to handle alone, consider seeking guidance from a therapist or counselor. Professional assistance can help you provide valuable tools and coping processes to navigate difficult situations.
- Practice Self-Care: Prioritise your self-care first in order to support your mental wellness. Engage in joyful and relaxing activities such as exercise, meditation, reading, or time in nature. Taking care of yourself enables you to support your family and cope with challenges with strong mental power.
- Avoid Blame and Judgement: Focus on fundamental causes of family conflicts, instead of blaming game. Deal with conflicts in an empathetic manner and look for outcomes that are beneficial to all parties. Avoiding judgment can encourage a more peaceful atmosphere.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Always keep in mind that not all family conflicts can be resolved immediately. be patient with the process and set realistic expectations for your progress. Strong, wholesome family ties and Rome weren't both constructed in a day.
- Seek Positive Outlets: Engage in positive activities to improve your life. Indulge in creative activities, socialize yourself, or follow your hobbies. This approach actually supports you emotionally and might be helpful for stress management.
- Know When to Seek Professional Help: Do not hesitate to seek professional guidance if your mental health keeps getting deteriorated. Professionals like therapists and counselors are equipped to provide you support and guidance you may require.
It involves effort, patience and self-compassion when maintaining a delicate balance between family issues and your mental health. You can overcome this by implementing open communication, setting limits, seeking support and practicing self-care you can overcome these obstacles easily with grace and resilience. Always remember that asking for professional help is a sign of strength and bravery and your well-being is worth prioritising.