This is a guest post by Adam Cook.
Managing the daily effects of mental illness can become very difficult. It can seem as though each day is a puzzle you must solve just to feel okay. While the temptation to cope negatively with substance abuse or self-harm can be strong, finding positive alternatives is important for long-term wellbeing. Below, we offer a few options for normalizing your mental illness and overcoming that daily puzzle.
Daily Relaxation Techniques
One of the most important parts of coping with mental illness is managing stress. Excess stress often aggravates the symptoms of mental illness which in turn causes more stress. Scheduling time to relax each day is critical in mental illness management. Some good options for relaxation are meditation, yoga, coloring, crafting, or reading. Meditation, in particular, has been shown to benefit individuals with mental illness greatly because the focus is to eradicate thought. Scheduling time each day to simply shut down your brain is possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Tending to Everyday Needs
Of course, eating and sleeping are important for everyone, but for those with mental illness it is especially is important that you eat well and get quality sleep. Living on heavily processed foods and sleeping poorly will exacerbate the symptoms of your illness. You must be sure to focus on your diet, filling any nutritional deficiencies and avoiding unhealthy foods. Quality sleep can be achieved with melatonin supplements or brain training. It is possible to teach your brain when to feel tired, when to sleep, and when to wake up with a consistent routine. Create a nightly routine you can follow each night, and you might be surprised at how much easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Seeking External Support
The support of loved ones is important and vital to every person. However, for people with mental illness, support from others becomes even more critical. Friends and family can provide assistance on your bad days, they can act as positive pressure to attend therapy sessions, and they can monitor your wellbeing and step in when there is cause for concern. Be sure your loved ones have a good understanding of your illness, how to manage it, and what your needs are so that they can be as supportive to you as possible.
For some, though friends and family are helpful, they simply are not enough. Service dogs for mental health steadily are becoming more common, despite the fact that the stereotypical image of a seeing-eye dog persists. Mental health service dogs can be trained to tend to an individual’s needs. For those suffering from PTSD, the service dog might be trained to keep crowds at bay and lead the person out of upsetting situations. For an individual with anxiety, a service dog might learn how to sound the alarm at the sight of a suspicious stranger or behave in a certain way that will allow the owner to leave an anxiety-inducing scenario with ease. The number of services a mental health service dog can provide are endless and can be very helpful for those who feel their illness impedes their ability to live a normal life.
Millions of people across the globe manage to live full, happy lives despite their mental illness. Learning to cope with your own disability is a matter of research, trial and error, and professional guidance. Speak to a counselor about what you can do to make your illness manageable and in the meantime, try some meditation or a new recipe. Coping is wholly possible if you are ready to try.
Adam Cook has a strong understanding of the devastation that can be caused by addiction. He recently lost a close friend to an addiction-related suicide. In an effort to better educate himself and to help others, he created AddictionHub.org, a site that provides addiction and mental health resources. When he isn’t working or adding to his website, he’s prepping for his first triathlon.
Image via Pixabay by the3cats