It’s always nice when other people give us gifts during the holidays….it makes us feel loved, appreciated, remembered, cared about.

But sometimes, other people just don’t know what we need or what would be most helpful. As the partner of someone with a mental illness, you may have to give yourself the gifts you really need. It might not be as exciting as unwrapping a beautifully-packaged present, but the benefits will likely last a lot longer.

Here are five gifts to consider giving yourself this holiday season:

  1. Self-care, rendered by someone else: A massage, a manicure/pedicure, a professional haircut and shave, a change in haircolor, a makeover by a beauty expert. Having someone else help you feel better, whether it’s by relieving tight muscles or updating your look, will help your outlook and ability to care for your partner.
  2. Health and wellness gift: Get a checkup from your doctor. Join a gym or have a few sessions with a personal trainer. Find a therapist or join a support group. Schedule a day or two off from work after the holidays when you don’t have anything planned, or plan something special just for yourself that day.
  3. Accepting (or asking for) offers for help: Friends and family are willing to help you and your partner, if you’ll let them. Can they make you some meals? Drive your partner to appointments? Take the kids for a few hours so you and your partner can have some alone time? If your partner has been ill for some time, friends and family may not realize that there are still things they can do to pitch in. Ask!
  4. Reconnecting to your community: What hobbies or other interests have been pushed to the side because of your partner’s illness? What new things are you interested in pursuing? It’s time to join a group, go to a class, or find others who are doing what you like to do.
  5. Making a new friend or strengthen relationships with old ones: Having a partner with a mental illness can put a strain on relationships. It’s imperative that you have friends whom you can not only lean on in hard times, but also have fun with!

Happy holidays!