6 Ways To Make The Most Of Life With Mental Illness
Life with a mental illness can be far from easy. A mental illness can affect your ability to function, think and behave in ways that significantly impact your day-to-day routines. However, those who struggle with mental health issues can live meaningful, rich lives, especially if treatment and management strategies are a consistent presence in your routine. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to make life with mental illness a little easier, so you can better cope with the pits of it all and fully enjoy the peaks.
1. Give Yourself Some Credit
Whether your mental health issues are situational or chronic, mental illness can interfere with your capacity to work, study, sleep, eat, drink water, get exercise, perform self care and keep up with your relationships. Rather than focus on all the ways you seem to be failing, turn your attention to the things you’re doing right. You may not be operating at full capacity, but when you push through to get out of bed, get dressed, respond to an email, follow up with your ADHD doctor online, return a call or finish a project you’ve procrastinated, it’s a reason to celebrate.
2. Take Care of Your Physical Health
The relationship between your mental and physical health is undeniable. Many symptoms of mental illness become exacerbated in times of sleeplessness, illness, hunger or general fatigue. Inversely, your physical health can start to suffer when symptoms of your mental illness are particularly trying. Part of caring for your mental health is ensuring that your body has what it needs to function optimally. Focus on nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, take measures to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night and consider regular exercise a non-negotiable part of your weekly routines, even if it’s just a quick walk on your lunch break each day.
3. Reach Out to Your Support System
Those with mental illness often feel detached from the rest of the world at a time when they need the support of others most. It’s important to remember that, while you’re going through something more difficult, you’re never a burden and you’re never too much for those who love you. Those who regularly interact with their support network are more likely to report feelings of greater wellbeing than those that don’t. Make plans with your loved ones, even if just a quick online game or a phone call is all you can manage.
4. Start a Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness is the act of practicing pure awareness of the current state of your mind, body and spirit. When you incorporate a mindfulness practice into your routine, such as deep breathing, stretching, gentle yoga or meditation, you give yourself a chance to gently check in with yourself–with no other agenda than to just explore how you’re feeling. Practicing this awareness can strengthen the pathways in your brain that will help to trigger the release of mood-boosting chemicals, and the stillness can help to quiet your mind, too.
5. Take Breaks When You Need Them
Very often, the symptoms of mental illness worsen in times of overwhelm. Part of managing your mental health symptoms is recognizing your triggers and doing what you can to prevent any troubling episodes by exercising boundaries and limits. If you can sense that pushing through or taking on more than you can handle at the time will send you into a spiral, it’s time to take a step back. Regular breaks are an excellent way to exercise self compassion and become more acquainted with your triggers, so you know how to handle them in the future.
6. Set Some Goals
A hallmark of many mental illnesses is a persistent feeling of stress and hopelessness. Combat this by giving yourself a few things to look forward to. Sit down to make a few goals for yourself. They can be as simple as intending to make your bed every morning or finally enrolling in the academic program you’ve always wanted to enter. The more you have planned for yourself, the better you’ll feel about the outlook of your future.
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