Self-Care Tips for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder, which affects nearly 1.5% of general population. The onset of the illness is usually in adolescence or in early adulthood and the symptoms include inconsistent mood shifts and emotional instability, self-harming behaviours, intense emotional reactions, impulsive behaviour and distorted sense of self. The core feature is emotional dysregulation, which often influences negatively human relationships. Due to the fact that is a poorly researched area of studies, many people are familiar neither with the illness itself, nor with coping strategies. If you relate or are diagnosed with BPD, your emotions can sometimes be overwhelming and you may find difficulties managing your emotional responses. You should try to cope with your feelings, using some of the following coping mechanisms.

1. Behavioural activation

You should try to involve in a highly engaging activity instead of choosing a passive one, such as watch television or play games on your computer. Thus, go for a walk, go to the gym, dance it out. Choose an activity that can keep your mind distracted from your current emotional state and at the same time can keep your energy levels elevated.

2. Avoid unhealthy behaviours

Sadly, many people with BPD, in order to cope with their emotional pain, turn to unhealthy ways of coping. Some paradigms of those are violent behaviours, self-harm and substance abuse. Before acting on it, press a pause button and think twice. Try to distance yourself from the pain and rethink your next move.

3. Find emotional and practical support

Embrace your pain. Be open about what you are dealing with, especially to people who care about you. Do not be afraid to share your struggles with them and discuss the problem. They will try to understand and will find ways to cope too and support you. Knowledge brings along support, trust, and empathy. When you are dealing with strong emotions you will always have someone by your side. Otherwise, there are many helplines you could talk about your feelings.

4. Mindfulness

Try to focus on the present moment and be aware of your thoughts and surroundings. Accept your emotions and understand them in-depth.

5. Learn grounding techniques

During moments when your emotions are very powerful and you feel “zoned out”, find ways to ground yourself to the present moment. There are plenty of techniques including “Stand like a tree”, a powerful ancient standing meditation technique, or “Mindful Walking”, where you simply walk but at the same time stay focused to the present moment and the environment around you.

6. Learn relaxation techniques

Breathe deeply, focus and listen to your heartbeat, count backwards.

7. Be patient

With time you will feel more comfortable with your emotions, you will be able to recognize what triggers their presence, you will be able to control them. You will feel more powerful towards your emotions.

8. Help someone else

Volunteer. Share your story with the world. Inspire others with the same condition to come forward and share their problem as well. Help people to face their fears and confront their disorder. You will be inspired yourself if you make something positive out of it.

9. Keep a moody diary

Think of it as a diary, but for your emotions. Write down everything you feel. It might help you to gain control over your emotional disturbances and to prevent emotional outbursts.

10. Look after your physical health

It is a fact that our physical health is sync with our mental health. Our sleep, diet, physical activity regulates our emotions and our behaviour. Take care of yourself and you will be able to spot the difference. Always choose outdoors activities to boost your mood and avoid harmful ways (e.g. junk food, alcohol) which will help you to cope with the present moment but in the long run will make you feel worse.

11. Think twice before reacting towards other people

Try to identify your primary and secondary emotions in any given situations and decode them. Does it worth to react towards someone you love before checking with your emotions firstly? It is common to feel overwhelmed by a whirl of emotions. Learn how to distance yourself and take a step behind. Try to regulate the way you feel through the techniques we mentioned above.

12. Be brave and start therapy

BPD is not something you can deal on your own. It is really important to recognize the moment you need someone else’s help and seek for it. Studies have shown that Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT) are the most effective psychosocial interventions for people with personality disorders, especially with BPD. Find yourself a therapist who will help you deal with your condition in your everyday life.

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