In this article I will suggest some very simple, yet highly effective, things that individuals who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) can carry out to alleviate symptoms of the condition.
It should first be stated that it is extremely important, as far as is possible, for sufferers of BPD to avoid, or minimize, stress. This is because it is well known that stress triggers symptoms of BPD. Stressors include : problems with family members ; problems with partner ; financial pressures ; important events ; and other forms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression.
Also, and I will give this piece of advice a paragraph all to itself because of its importance, one’s living environment should be as stress-free and secure as possible. Of course, this cannot usually be achieved immediately, but, if this is indeed the case, should be borne in mind for the future.
None of us can avoid stress completely, of course; and, because people with BPD react much more intensely to stress than others, and, also, take much longer to calm down again once they become stressed, it is useful for sufferers to have a variety of techniques at their disposal to increase their ability to deal with stress. Such techniques include :
– taking a warm bath, going for a walk or having a massage
– getting the right amount of sleep (on average, this is about eight hours ; however, there are individual differences and some people may require significantly more, especially if unwell). Often, people with BPD suffer sleep problems such as early morning waking, difficulty getting to sleep, shallow and disturbed sleep with frequent waking etc. However, it is worth remembering that getting upset because one can’t sleep only makes getting to sleep more difficult still.
– try to keep to a healthy diet and lifestyle (click here for my article on this)
– whenever you cope well with a stressful event, or in a way which improves upon how you normally cope, give yourself a reward
– take up an interest or hobby. One benefit of this is that it can act as a distraction and prevent you from obsessively, negatively ruminating and dwelling upon morbid thoughts. Furthermore, it can provide opportunities to meet others
– take exercise regularly. It is known that exercise elevates a person’s mood. In the UK, doctors recommend about 20 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per day
– avoid illicit drugs
– talk to others about whatever is causing stress to gain an alternative perspective, eg friend, counsellor, doctor etc
– read books about the condition and educate yourself about it. Understanding why one behaves in the way one does is a vital step towards getting well and can alleviate the feelings of irrational guilt that are so frequent in those who suffer from BPD. (Reading and learning about one’s condition for therapeutic reasons is sometimes referred to as bibliotherapy.)
– carry out research online relating to recovery from BPD
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).