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Self-Care & Relationships

Each and every relationship you have is unique. Your connections and relationships with others play an important role in your life, whether it is with a friend, romantic partner, or housemate.

Strengthening Your Relationships

The relationships you have with others can play a large role in your life, but one of the most important relationships you have is with yourself!

It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself or not make self-care a priority. This can happen when life becomes busy, when you start feeling overwhelmed, or when you feel stressed.

You may also forget about self-care when you are supporting someone close to you, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself too! When you are supporting a friend or someone close to you:

  • Set boundaries.
  • Stay in tune with your own emotions and stress levels.
  • Recognize when professional help may be needed and offer to help your friend find the appropriate resources. Do not feel discouraged if you do not know all of the answers.

To learn more about practicing self-care, check out this zine and workbook.


(Adapted from “Lean on Me: How to Help a Friend in Need”)

When someone close to you is experiencing difficult thoughts or feelings, or is going through a difficult time, it is common to feel like you do not know how to help. Sometimes one of the most important ways that you can support a friend is by listening to them and letting them know that you are there for them.

Tips for Talking to a Loved One
  • Find a private place and let them take as much time as they need.
  • Take them seriously and listen without judgement—their feelings are very real.
  • Keep your word—don’t make promises you can’t keep or don’t intend to keep.
  • Tell them that they are important and that you care about them.


Mental Health and Mental Illness

There are many ways you can support a friend who is experiencing mental health problems or mental illness. You can help by sharing your concerns with them, offering emotional support, providing practical support, helping them find resources or services, and helping them during a crisis.

Explore our section on Mental Health and Mental Illness to find information about mental health, more detailed information about how to support someone close to you, and resources. You can find a more extensive list of helpful resources on our Resources page.

You can also find more information on supporting a friend who is experiencing mental health problems or mental illness from the Mental Health Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

More Feet on the Ground is a great resource if you want to understand more about mental health, as well as learn how to recognize, respond, and refer students experiencing mental health issues on campus.


Sexual Violence

The number one thing you can do to support a friend who has experienced sexual violence is listen to them. Other ways you can provide support include believing them, being non-judgmental, honouring their coping strategies, and referring them to resources.

McMaster’s Sexual Violence Response Protocol has information on providing support to survivors, as well as what to do if you receive a disclosure of sexual, intimate, or family violence.

You can also contact the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator at 905-525-9140 ext. 20909 or, or call SACHA’s 24-hour support line at 905-525-4162.


If you know someone who is experiencing any of these things, is going through a difficult time, or needs additional support, you can encourage them to speak with someone at the Student Wellness Centre.


(Adapted from SACHA)

Relationships exist on a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy to abusive.

Healthy relationships involve:

  • Open, honest, and safe communication
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Understanding
  • Individuality
  • Setting boundaries
  • Conflict resolution and compromise

If you do not know if you are in a healthy relationship, you can use SACHA’s Healthy Relationship Checklist. It has more detailed information about what a healthy relationship looks like.

You can also find more information about healthy romantic and sexual relationships at Loveisrespect.


(Adapted from Loveisrespect)

Moving away from home is a new experience for a lot of students and usually involves living with other people. The tips below are for anyone living with roommates or housemates, whether they are friends from high school, friends you met on campus, acquaintances, or strangers.

  • Have open communication from the beginning
  • Set ground rules about things like chores, having guests over, and noise
  • Talk about small problems before they become major issues
  • Be respectful about their personal space and belongings
  • Treat them the way you want to be treated

The Off-Campus Resource Centre also has a list of important issues that you may want to discuss with your housemates.