Mental Health Recovery: Avoid Triggers
Thursday, May 31 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne
I hate to admit it, but when you live with a mental illness there are probably triggers to avoid--triggers that upset the stability we have fought so hard to find (Don't Wait: Prepare for Mental Health Triggers Beforehand). First, let's break it down a little bit.
Avoid Triggers: Let's Use Addiction as an Example
I know a thing or two about addiction. When you are in recovery from addiction you are told, wisely, to avoid triggers.
A recovering addict often has to avoid addiction triggers such as certain places, specific people, even little things like the music we listened to when we were using. The reason is as simple as it is complicated: An addict can be reminded of the drugs they used if they find themselves in a space where drug abuse occurred.
If they run into people they used with--that's a trigger. An addict usually has to change their entire life in order to become sober --and stay sober. Often, a person newly diagnosed with a mental illness has to do the same.
Avoiding Triggers In Mental Health Recoveries
First, let's assume you have achieved some stability. That was hard enough, but things don't get a heck of a lot easier--yet. You now have to analyze your life. You have to ask yourself: "What do I need to do in order to stay well?"
Often, this involves eliminating possible triggers, such as...
>Alcohol. It's usually a good idea to completely eliminate alcohol. Or drastically cut back. Alcohol affects the same part of our brain that we are working so hard to keep balanced!
>Some over-the-counter medication. Even medications such as Advil or generic cough syrup can have a negative impact on our mental health recovery. It can upset a newly precarious balance.
>Stress! This one is important and I probably do not need to tell you this, but I do want to stress the importance of limiting stress when you have a mental illness.
>Negativity. We all have people in our lives who don't support or understand our illness. We don't need them. They can cause stress and trigger relapse. Stick with the people you trust.
>Isolating yourself. I have written about this before because it's important. Really important. Feeling alone or isolating yourself can trigger relapse.
>Not taking care of yourself--and self-care really is something you need to learn-- is crucial to sustained mental health recovery.
Avoid Triggers In Mental Health Recovery With Self-Care
Before you are diagnosed with a mental illness, life was probably pretty hard. You probably thought it wouldn't get any better, and when it does, when the blackness begins to lift, you find yourself needing to make positive changes in order to stay well.
These are obvious practices, they are not complicated when writing or thinking about them, but they can be hard to integrate into your life if haven't done so before. Like anything else, it takes time and practice.
>Eat well and on a regular basis. Medication cannot work properly if you do not nourish your body. Don't forget water.
>Find a regular sleeping pattern. This is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Our mind needs rest just as much as our body does. If we don't give it that, it can trigger relapse.
>Exercise. We all know this, but do we actually do it on a regular basis? I have a 130 lb year old monster of a dog that requires a heck of a lot of walking, but before this, finding time to exercise was a struggle.
>Research your illness. But avoid masses of online literature. It's confusing. Ask your doctor for literature.
Self-care is different for all of us, but practicing it, and avoiding triggers can keep us stable.