Taking Care of Yourself
There are many things people can do to protect themselves and regain their balance when experiencing psychological distress or suicidal thoughts.
I started having suicidal thoughts during a period when I was really stressed. I was crying a lot and was completely disorganized. Over time, I found ways to manage my stress and feel better. Now if I go through a rough patch, I know how to prevent suicidal thoughts from happening.
Making a safety plan
Making a safety plan is a good strategy for keeping safe when suicidal thoughts occur. It’s a simple and practical guide for getting through difficult times, with useful information about how to stay safe and keep suicidal thoughts under control.
Safety plans include:
- Information on distress triggers
- Strategies for regaining control and feeling better
- Ways to take your mind off things
- Names of people you trust and can talk to about suicidal thoughts
- Professional resource people who can help you protect yourself
- Phone numbers for emergency services
- Ways to ensure your safety
The My Tools section allows you to record this information and have it at hand when you need it.
Identifying the warning signs of distress and suicidal thoughts
Distress and suicidal thoughts usually arise during periods of stress.
At times like these, emotions (e.g., fear, anger, shame, rage), thoughts (e.g., “I feel useless,” “Everyone would be better off without me,” “This isn’t going to get better,”), and behaviours (e.g., withdrawal, alcohol use, crying) may indicate that the situation is deteriorating. By learning to recognize these signs, you can act more quickly in tough times to prevent stress from turning into suicidal thoughts.
Dealing with stress
Coping strategies can help deal with stress. A coping strategy is essentially a thing you can do to feel better and reduce stress when you're going through a difficult situation.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to coping strategies. A strategy that works for one person might not work for another. There are no good or bad strategies—the important thing is that they make you feel better.
It’s also helpful to have multiple strategies. A strategy could be helpful in one situation but not another. If one doesn’t work, try another. It’s important to try several and note which ones work best.
Here are some examples of coping strategies:
- Talk about what’s wrong rather than keeping it bottled up
- Get some exercise (walking, running, weight training)
- Watch a feel-good movie or TV show
- Go to the park
- Make a list of the important things in your life
- Visit a friend
- Visualize life after the problem has been solved
Developing positive habits
Coping strategies are useful for feeling better in the short term. But to improve well-being over the long term, it can be helpful to adopt positive habits. Self-management strategies are one way to do this.
They allow a person to gain control over their mental health by learning and mastering skills such as:
- Taking care of your physical condition
- Dealing with difficulties
- Functioning well day-to-day
- Maintaining positive relationships with others
- Fostering hope
When your life is in danger
If things get really bad and you feel your life is in danger, don’t hesitate to contact emergency services. Emergency services exist to ensure our safety and can help us protect ourselves.
If your life is in danger, you can:
- Call 911
- Go to the emergency room
Other professional services are available for when your life isn’t in immediate danger, but you need help to quell suicidal thoughts and relieve distress.
Strategy identification tools
Everyone has different strategies for dealing with stressful situations and taking care of their mental health. The important thing is to find ones that work for you. The My Tools section offer different tools to help you identify them.