When you have a mental illness, you have several options for coping with its effects on your life. The first and most effective is treatment through a trained professional. It is always recommended that you seek help from a therapist and use alternative treatments as support for your treatment.
However, you can certainly reduce the effects of your mental illness with positive lifestyle changes and certain activities. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are struggling to regain control of your life, here are a few things you can use to limit the risk of addiction as a result of illness and improve your quality of life.
Volunteer for a Cause You Care About
Mental illness has a funny way of making you feel as though you aren’t accomplishing anything or as though you aren’t making a difference. Volunteering is a wonderful way to fight that helpless feeling and you stand to gain much more than simply feeling useful by practicing volunteerism.
Volunteering forces you to get out of the house and socialize with other people. Social isolation is another very common issue faced by those with mental illness and can be remedied by a job or volunteer position. Plus, you are able to form even stronger relationships by working together for a cause you’re passionate about. You could even make lifelong friends!
Learn a Form of Mindfulness
Mindful thinking is an activity that allows you to calm your mind and better control the symptoms of mental illness. A few examples of mindfulness activities might be meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi.
Any of these techniques can be used to practice harnessing the power of the mind. Of course, you cannot think your mental illness away, but you can use your mind to cope with the symptoms and learn to better manage them.
Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine
Exercise is one of the fastest and most effective ways to improve your mental health. The endorphins released by exercise uplift mood and help battle many symptoms of mental illness.
Try picking a form of exercise that you can enjoy such as fencing, yoga, rock climbing, or hiking. There is little point in forcing yourself to do an activity you hate each day in the name of health.
Monitor Your Diet
The way you eat directly impacts the way you feel both mentally and physically. A well-rounded, nutritionally balanced diet will allow you to feel your best and build up a good defense against your illness.
A poor diet, on the other hand, can actually aggravate mental illness, causing negative moods and physical illness. If possible, speak to a nutritionist about streamlining your diet and utilizing supplements if needed. If you can’t meet with a nutritionist, keep an eye on what you eat each day. Could you be making healthier choices? Even small changes can make a big difference.
Form a Routine
When you have a mental illness, it can be extremely difficult to get yourself to do the things you need to in order to feel good. If you form a daily routine, however, you may find it easier to stick to your routine rather than trying to talk yourself into exercising or eating a healthy meal. Furthermore, human beings thrive on routine, meaning someone struggling with a mental illness will reap even more benefits.
There are a number of ways you can help yourself better cope with a mental illness. Of course, it is always important that you seek the help of a professional even if you are taking steps to treat yourself. If left untreated your symptoms could worsen and possibly even lead to addiction, so it is not worth skipping out on proper treatment.
Jennifer McGregor - Pre-med student
Co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary.org