Looking after your mental health during narcissistic abuse recovery

5 minute read

We all want to be as healthy as we can be. We all know that feeling our best, is best. It’s not always easy to make it happen, and especially so when recovering from narcissistic abuse. There are many psychological, even physical reactions that can take time to heal. Looking after your mental health during narcissistic abuse recovery helps speed up getting to that place of feeling your best once more.

You’ll already be aware of many of the practices that lead to feeling your best. You’ll know that you need to eat well and exercise and take the best possible care of your body as you can.

In the midst of narcissistic abuse, these things are often set aside as you try to just get through each day.

The toll on the body is huge, with physical illnesses often resulting from not only neglecting to take care of ourselves, but also from the sustained periods of stress that no body is designed to handle for such extended periods.

Of course, you’ll know that it isn’t just the body that suffers. The mind and spirit do too. These can feel so confused and crushed from narcissistic abuse.  Anxiety, panic attacks and depression are just some of the results of narcissistic abuse that survivors work through.

Acknowledging and treating these are so important. Reach out for help from appropriately qualified professionals, and surround yourself with trusted people you can talk to.

At the same time, you can take active steps so that you are looking after your mental health during narcissistic abuse recovery.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to encourage a healthier mind and spirit.

Looking after your mental health during narcissistic abuse recovery

Minimizing Stress

The very first thing that you can do for your mental health, is to minimize stress as much as you can.

If you’re dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, being in triggering and stressful environments (or surrounded by toxic people) is not going to be a good thing. Instead, you need to make sure that you’re staying as calm as you can to give you space to start that healing process by stabilizing some of those internal states that have been on high alert for too long.

Easy enough to say, but how do you do it?

By making conscious decisions to eliminate or minimize the things you know cause you stress. It’s a no brainer that the narcissist is one of those stressors. Going gray rock, or No Contact are ways that other survivors have attacked this – what can you do to proactively help yourself with what causes you stress?

Prioritizing Relaxation

To complement that, the next thing you need to do here, is to make sure that you’re relaxing as much as you possibly can. Now, everybody will benefit from having a relaxing life – we all know that! Another no brainer.

Suffering narcissistic abuse allows stress to take hold of your life. This is not a good thing. When you’re able to switch off and rest as much as you can, you start to feel clearer, calmer, which leads to making better choices and a happier in life.

What are the things that make you feel at peace with the world? Write a list, and schedule these in.

Balance & slowing down

Finding balance in your life is so important. If you know that you’re stressed out because of the demands of the narcissist and you’ve got too much going on, then you’re trying to do ‘it all’.

Doing it all isn’t how real-life works. On that front, what the narcissist expects of you isn’t real-life either.

Try slowing down, it’s important to bring in that relaxation, to keep you calm and to get a more balanced perspective on your life.

Making gentle space for yourself helps you get in touch with what really matters for you.

Think about some of the things you don’t want or need to be doing, and start practicing saying ‘no’ to what isn’t healing for you right now.

Seeking Support

Sometimes all of this, just isn’t enough.

Let’s face it. If these things are just way too much to contemplate right now, it could be that speaking to someone might help to get you over this initial hump.

This could be your doctor initially to chat through what’s going on, but it could be that talking to an appropriate professional therapist or specialist, who has experience with narcissistic abuse, can really help you to work through this.

Looking for a professional that you feel comfortable to open up with is important. There are many ways of doing this these days, with support available over the phone, face to face and even online.

If you’re not sure where to start, Google your local Domestic Violence hotline and ask for some referrals.

Seeking Treatment

As a step on from that, you may also want to consider different treatment options. This could be in the form of something like deep TMS therapy or acupuncture. This could be explored as a supplement to seeking support, to really take care of your whole mind, body and soul.

Talking to your doctor to work out what the best approach for you is a great way to get started.

Eating Well

Aiming to lead a healthier lifestyle overall can work wonders for your mental health. There are links between a healthier diet and better levels of mental health. So if you really do want to help yourself, you need to look at what you’re putting into your body.

If you want to explore this more fully, you could also seek professional advice on dietary adjustments that will maximise the serotonin levels in your brain as a drug-free anti-depressant!

Keep in mind that alcohol and many narcotics are also depressants. Minimizing use of these helps you recover faster.

Think of what you can cut out of your diet starting today. Also have a think about foods that make you feel really nourished and nurtured, and that you know are good for you. Make a shopping list of what you’ll grab to begin replenishing your body and mind.

Exercising

It’s easy to believe that exercise is just something that you do for your body. To keep fit or look good. But it’s not. It’s more than that. There are so many mental health benefits of exercise.

You feel more energized, lighter, calmer – you can even sleep better. So it’s essential that you’re able to find some kind of exercise you like, whether it’s running, yoga, a team sport, or even an exercise class. It’s going to really help your mind.

Start small if you need to, start with doing some walks. What other exercise do you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past?

Schedule some time today to do something that moves your body, and start increasing time dedicated to doing this.

Being Mindful

It’s just all too easy to be in your head in this day and age. And when you are, your thoughts are racing, and never more so than when you are ruminating about the narcissist.

But when you’re mindful, you learn to be more present. You observe and control your thoughts. You’re aware of them, but you’re more in the moment. And bringing yourself into the present will always allow you to be happier.

Let’s be real. It’s going to take a bit of practice before those thoughts start to slow, so don’t give in if it feels like a challenge when you start up. Like exercise, schedule in an activity like meditation for just a few minutes today, and start building it up. In time the difference you feel will surprise you.

Enjoying Passions

You also need to make sure that you are making time for your interests and hobbies. If you’re stuck in a bad cycle, you need to find your way out. Passions can help you.

Whatever you’re interested in, throw yourself into that. A distraction can then allow you to find much more happiness.

You could even look at joining local clubs or Meet Up groups that do the thing you love, so that you are enjoying your passion with like minded people.

Start writing up a list of all the things you know you love doing. If you can’t think of anything, brainstorm things you’ve always thought looked like fun and you wanted to try, or things you want to know more about. Then pick at least one thing to try and schedule it in.

Slow down and follow your passions

Finding Happiness

Finally, you will then want to make sure that you’re looking for as much happiness as possible in life.

This can be something that is often hard for you to do when you’re not feeling in the best of shape, but it helps.

Practising gratitude and focusing on all of the things that you’re grateful for can make you feel lighter and calmer. When you focus on the things that make you happy, and bring happiness to your life, it can really turn things around for you.

This gets easier as you remove the toxicity and the stressors, as you notice that what’s left are the things that are good for you and make you happy.

All of these sound easy and simple. In reality, they are. They can seem overwhelmingly difficult when you are trying to pull out of the harmful effects of narcissistic abuse. The thing to do is to take small steps, and build on them. The more you do, the easier they get, and the healthier your mind and body become!

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