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With so many Americans suffering each year from one mental illness or another (around 20% of all men, women, and children), it’s important to remember to care for your mind, body, and soul. In addition to any professional help that you may require for your mental illness, such as medication or therapy, living healthily is an important part of managing your illness. Your diet, lifestyle, recreational activities, friends, and routine can all have a major impact on how you feel, physically and emotionally, and so can also have a huge impact on your treatment plan. Here is a short list of self-care strategies, that can help you to ensure that your lifestyle has no negative impact on your mental health or treatment plan.
- Express Yourself
Whether it be through drawings, diary entries, or dance sequences, it is always beneficial to express your feelings, and not bottle things up. If you find it hard to explain how you feel in words, you could show your drawings and paintings to your therapist, as a form of art therapy.
Expressing yourself artistically is also a great way to keep your mind and body active, and not dwelling on negative feelings and emotions.
- Get Active
As above, being active is a great way to escape from negative feelings as you generally will focus on the physical activity you’re partaking in, rather than anything else. It’s also proven to reduce stress, as it pumps your body full of endorphins, which trigger a positive response in the body. Scientists have proved that endorphins are very useful at elevating your overall mood, decreasing levels of tension, and improving your self-esteem. In fact, a simple five-minute aerobic session has been shown to stimulate anti-anxiety effects
- Be Social
Talking through your feelings with someone you can trust may be a great help in managing your mental illness. Regardless of whether the person is a family member, a friend, or a therapist, just having someone listen to what it is you have to say, and showing that they care about you and your feeling can really heighten your self-esteem. They may have also encountered similar problems to you, or have had similar feelings to you and so may be able to provide advice, as well as emotional support.
- Learn About Your Illness
Learning as much about your mental illness as possible may help you to feel more in control of it, which will reduce your levels of stress and anxiety. Having a read of some blog posts, websites, or even taking a psychology degree online will all provide you will masses of information, all of which could help you better manage your illness. They could provide you will information on different types of treatments, as well as information that you could give to your friends and family so that you know that they too will always know what to expect.
- Eat Healthily
Evidence has indicated that the foods you eat have a big impact on the development and management of certain mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Those who have some level of mental health issue report eating fewer healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as chocolate and chips, whereas over two-thirds of mentally healthy people report that they eat much more healthily. Stimulants such as alcohol and coffee, as well as many drugs, also have links to the development of certain mental illnesses. This shows that a healthy meal plan is an incredibly important factor in managing many different mental illnesses.
- Have A Routine
For mental illnesses such as anxiety, having a routine or a plan for the day can help to reduce stress, as you always know where you have to be and what you have to do next. Just be careful not to make the routine too strict; otherwise, you may get panicky if you have to deviate from the plan for any reason.
- Get Plenty Of Sleep
Getting too much or too little sleep can result in a range of negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, and feeling depressed, and you will obviously feel very tired, even with too much sleep, which can make it difficult to cope with everyday life. You may also end up feeling lonely and isolated, as your tiredness may make you feel like you don’t want to be sociable. In extremely serious cases, if you already have a psychotic disorder, tiredness may even trigger a psychotic episode. For someone suffering from a mental illness, it is very easy to under or over sleep, which isn’t very good, when all of these negative repercussions come with it, and so getting into a regular sleeping pattern would be incredibly beneficial.
- Know When To See A Professional
Managing your own illness through self-care strategies can provide many people living with mental illness a sense of control over their life and their illness, which in itself can help lower levels of stress and anxiety, raise your levels of self-esteem, and reduce the symptoms of your mental illness. However, this isn’t always the case, sometimes things can go out of your control, and sometimes you may need the help of a professional, whether that be a therapist, a psychologist, or a doctor. If you start to feel as though things are getting out of your control or that you can’t cope with everyday life, it is always best to contact a professional, just to be on the safe side.
Hopefully, these self-care strategies will provide you a sense of control over your life and your mental illness. However, you must always remember that you can’t always do everything on your own. Sometimes the best strategy for self-care is knowing when you can’t completely care for yourself on your own anymore, and when that is the case there is always someone that you can contact, whether it be family, a friend, or a healthcare professional, that will be more than happy to help you.
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