Being diagnosed with a mental illness can seem overwhelming at first. Here are some simple tips for dealing with your mental illness.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, be physically active and get plenty of sleep.
- Get exercise. Physical activity reduces depression symptoms. Consider walking, jogging, swimming, gardening or taking up another activity that you enjoy.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleeping well is important for both your physical and mental well-being. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about what you can do.
- Simplify your life. Cut back on obligations when possible, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Give yourself permission to do less when you feel down.
- Structure your time. Plan your day. You may find it helps to make a list of daily tasks, use sticky notes as reminders or use a planner to stay organized.
- Stick to your treatment plan. Don’t skip psychotherapy sessions or appointments. Even if you’re feeling well, don’t skip your medications. If you stop, depression symptoms may come back, and you could also experience withdrawal-like symptoms.
- Learn about depression. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan. Encourage your family to learn about depression to help them understand and be more supportive of you.
- Learn ways to relax and manage your stress. Examples include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and tai chi.
- Pay attention to warning signs and learn your triggers. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your depression symptoms. Make a plan so you know what to do if your symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Ask family members or friends to help watch for warning signs.
- Write in a journal. Journaling may improve mood by allowing you to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
- Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. It may seem like alcohol or drugs lessen depression symptoms, but in the long run they generally worsen symptoms and make depression harder to treat. Talk with your doctor or therapist if you need help with alcohol or substance abuse.
- Locate helpful organizations. Many organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), offer education, support groups, counseling and other resources to help with depression.
- Don’t become isolated. Try to participate in social activities, and get together with family or friends regularly.
- Don’t make important decisions when you’re down. Avoid decision-making when you’re feeling depressed, since you may not be thinking clearly.