Self help for personality disorders

This page explains in brief, what personality disorders are, what it means and the signs that often is associated with them.

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How can I help myself?

If you’re dealing with a personality disorder, each day might seem challenging, and there could be moments when things feel overwhelming. However, there are coping methods that can assist. Here are some suggestions for actions you can take to support yourself now and in the future.

What helps varies from person to person and can change depending on the situation, so remember to be gentle with yourself if certain approaches don’t work for you. We’re all different, and what you find beneficial during tough times can be very specific to you and may evolve.

What can I do now?

How you might cope:

  • keep your hands busy, maybe with a repair job or crafting something
  • jot down your thoughts in a diary
  • give a breathing exercise a go
  • have a shower – a cold one can be surprisingly helpful for some.
  • try something artistic like colouring, sketching, creative writing, or making music
  • put on your favourite tunes and have a dance or sing

Remember, in time or even now you may have your own ways to help calm yourself.

  • settle in and watch a TV programme you love
  • jot down your negative thoughts on paper and then scrunch or rip it up
  • have a cuddle with a pet or a soft toy.
  • listen to a song or watch a video that cheers you up
  • enjoy a book you’re fond of
  • have a warm bath or shower – it can lift your spirits by providing a
  • comforting environment and a pleasant physical feeling.
  • prepare a hot beverage and savour it slowly, paying attention to its taste and
  • aroma, the design of the cup, and how it feels in your hand
  • jot down everything about your current surroundings, like the time, date, the
  • colours around you, and the room’s furnishings
  • breathe deeply ten times, counting each breath out loud

Here are some options to help you cope:

  • Walk without shoes
  • Try eating or smelling something with a potent taste or scent
  • Wrap up in a blanket and feel its warmth
  • Pay attention to the sounds nearby
  • Take slow breaths

What you could do to get through it:

  • stick sellotape or a plaster on your skin and peel it off
  • hold ice cubes where you want to hurt yourself
  • have a very cold shower.

Remember, you can contact the Samaritans any time day or night. They do not judge and will be happy to speak to you.

Call 116 123
Or visit their website here

What can I do in the longer-term?

Allocating time to prioritise your well-being can significantly impact your overall mood. Below are some suggestions:

Reaching out to others can feel tough when you’re not well, but sharing your struggles can lighten the load. If speaking to those around you feels daunting, you might consider reaching out to a helpline.

For instance, you can contact Samaritans for free at 116 123 or email to discuss anything troubling you.

Keeping track of your moods can give you insight into yourself and your mood swings, helping you notice subtle changes you might miss otherwise. Lots of people find mood diaries useful for this.

It’s also good to acknowledge the positive things you’ve done or experienced. Practising self-kindness and noting the progress you’ve made or helpful techniques you’ve tried is important.

Sometimes, expressing how you feel or the support you require can be challenging. It’s wise to devise a crisis plan detailing your preferences for handling emergencies.
This might involve:

  • Identifying who to get in touch with
  • Specifying preferred treatments or ones to avoid
  • Deciding when hospital treatment should be considered.

If you feel unheard or unfairly treated (for instance, when speaking with doctors or seeking treatment), an advocate can assist in making your voice heard.

You might find it helpful to have some things that help you when you’re struggling that you can access easily – a bit like making a first-aid kit for your mental health.
For example:

  • favourite books, films or CDs
  • a stress ball or fiddle toy for releasing agitation
  • helpful quotes or notes of encouragement
  • pictures or photos you find comforting
  • a soft blanket or cuddly toy
  • a nice-smelling candle or lavender bag.

What you could do to get through it:

  • stick sellotape or a plaster on your skin and peel it off
  • hold ice cubes where you want to hurt yourself
  • have a very cold shower.

Mindfulness and relaxation exercises can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with personality disorders, as these practices can help manage stress, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall emotional regulation. Here are a few exercises tailored to promote relaxation and mindfulness:

Deep Breathing Exercise:
How to Do It: Find a comfortable sitting or lying position. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your stomach to rise, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process for several minutes, focusing solely on your breath.
Why It Helps: This exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety by activating the body’s relaxation response.

Mindful Walking:
How to Do It: Take a walk in a calm environment. Concentrate on the experience of walking, noticing the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath, and the sights and sounds around you.
Why It Helps: This exercise promotes a meditative state, grounding you in the present moment and reducing rumination.

When dealing with personality disorders, it’s important to approach these exercises with patience and an open mind. Regular practice can enhance their effectiveness. Additionally, these exercises are most beneficial when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Chatting with others who’ve been through similar things can really help. Peer support lets people share what they’ve been through, offer and get support, and learn from each other.
Ask your local mind about peer support here

Looking after your physical health can really boost how you feel emotionally, so it’s worth taking care of yourself in this regard.

Here are a few tips:

Get plenty of sleep: Adequate sleep gives you the energy to handle tough emotions and situations. Understand your own sleep needs and don’t hesitate to rest more if required. For help with sleep issues, check out some guidance on coping with sleep problems.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: They might seem like a temporary escape from hard feelings, but drugs and alcohol can ultimately make you feel worse and stop you from addressing the real issues. For more information, look at advice on recreational drugs and alcohol, or visit the Talk to Frank website.

Stay active: Physical activity, even mild forms like a short walk or chair exercises, is great for your mental health. You don’t need to do intense workouts to see benefits. For ideas, explore information on physical activity.

Watch your diet: Eating well and regularly can lift your mood and boost your energy. For more details, look into how food affects your mood.

Spend time outdoors: Being in nature can improve your wellbeing significantly. For inspiration and the benefits of nature on mental health, check out resources on engaging with nature.

These simple steps can make a big difference to both your physical and emotional health.

Seek tailored support for social challenges

Many individuals with personality disorders have gone through challenging times which have played a part in their difficulties, including experiences of abuse, bullying, or discrimination. If you’ve faced similar issues, it might be useful to look into support available for these as well.

For instance, if you were abused during your childhood, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) offers several support services that could help.

Get support

Talk with a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings with out free counselling and private counselling service for people over the age of 18.

Counselling Private Counselling