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While it is impossible to eliminate stress from anyone’s life, it is often helpful to minimize stress in order for the person with mental illness to function at his or her best. Talk with your relative to find out what activities are most stressful. Often, social situations, such as large family gatherings, are very stressful. Your relative may want to participate, but may need permission to withdraw if they feel too much stress.

Another way to reduce stress is to be flexible about your expectations for your relative. If he wants to return to work or school, or to take on increased activity, encourage him to take things slowly, and not to make more than one major change at a time. You can also encourage your relative to be flexible about his own expectations for himself, and you can provide support and encouragement for the progress he makes.

You may become frustrated with your relative at times, as with any person who is close to you. However, if you can keep criticism and conflict to a minimum, it will help to reduce stress levels for everyone in the family. You may also need to avoid being overly involved with your relative.