5 Components to Living with Mental Illness

Relaxation woman eyes closed5 Key Components to Living with Mental Illness

Living with mental illness is a little more complex than a person without mental illness may think. Daily life cannot simply be lived on the fly. Each day must be planned and oriented around the illness. For some who are still learning to cope with this diagnosis, each day is a matter of trial and errors. This trial and error, when not guided by professional help, can sometimes result in addiction due to self-medication. Learning how to live with the fewest limitations is a process that should be conducted with the help of a counselor. We have identified five key components to reclaiming your life after a mental illness diagnosis.

Cultivate Good Eating Habits and a Healthy Diet

breakfastWhat we eat has a huge impact on our mental state. A diet lacking in certain nutrients easily can amplify the symptoms of mental illness. It is important that you identify any nutritional gaps in your diet and modify accordingly. You should also ensure that you are eating enough calories and eating regularly.

Make Time to Exercise to Help Cope with Mental Illness

BicycleKeeping the body fit is a good way to reduce stress. When you physically feel good, your mind feels good, too. In addition to improving your level of fitness, exercise creates endorphins that are known to improve your mood and help you maintain mental regularity. Try to find a form of exercise you enjoy. You may find that you like walking, hiking, riding a bike, or lifting weights. If you look forward to exercising, it will be easier for you to get yourself out of bed or off the couch and moving.

Staying Social is Important

Alert circleMaintaining social ties is simply part of being human. For those with mental illness, it can be particularly hard to muster the will to see friends and take part in social activities. Though you should not force yourself into uncomfortable situations, you should make it a priority to spend time with other people.

Create and Stick to a Routine

clockThe human mind loves routine. Every person will benefit from forming a daily or weekly routine. For people with mental illness, a routine can decrease the symptoms of the illness. When the mind has the ability to know what is coming next, it is less prone to display abnormal behavior. This is particularly true with bipolar disorder.

Spend Time with Animals

PetsPets have been shown to reduce stress, improve symptoms of mental illness, and help us live longer. Spending some quality time with an affectionate animal can work wonders for your mental state. For those with more severe forms of mental illness, a psychiatric service dog may be the best way to go. Psychiatric service dogs are specially trained to help their handlers cope with their unique challenges while providing love, comfort, and support. For example, PTSD service dogs might learn to bring their handler out of a flashback, guide him to an exit in a public place, or alert a loved one of the situation.

Even if you have perfected all five of these components to living with mental illness, you are likely to continue feeling the effects of your illness. This is where professional help comes in. Working with a counselor is also important to the process of learning to cope with a mental illness. Though streamlining your daily life will certainly help, you may need medications or talk therapy to thrive in your daily life. Consult with your counselor and figure out what your next step should be.


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.

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