Self-Care Practices and Recovering From Mental Illness (pt. 2)

November 15, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog on the topic of self-care when you live with a mental illness. Within that blog I focused on the importance of exercise, nourishing our bodies properly and having a regular sleep pattern. This blog will focus less on what we need to do to stay well but what we might consider avoiding--external and internal negative influences-- in order to recover from mental illness effectively.

Defining 'Negative Influences' When Recovering From Mental Illness

When we are diagnosed with a mental illness we are told that self-care is important. We know this. Yes, we need to sleep enough and eat properly and...You know what I'm going on about here. However, we are often not educated on negative influences--choices we make that negatively affect our mental health and things, people,that surround us and do not contribute to our recovery.

Mood Altering Substances

This includes a wide range of substances: everything from cigarettes, alcohol and cocaine. Even over the counter drugs like Tylenol can have an adverse affect on our mood.

Those who live with chronic mental illness have a much higher incidence of addiction and it is for this reason we need to be vigilant in keeping our mind and body free of chemicals that can damage it. I was an addict for five years; it nearly killed me. I used drugs and alcohol to medicate my moods, and because of this I could not become stable until I was clean.

We also, statistically, have an addiction to nicotine products at a much higher level than the general populous. I quit smoking eleven days ago and it hasn't been pretty. My cats are hiding and my family not visiting. If you smoke, seek help and develop a 'Quit Plan', and if you don't smoke...Well, why the heck would you start? Just don't--please!

In summary: Avoid mood altering substances! When you are sick with a bad cold or flu and want to take an over the counter medication for relief, speak to the pharmacist and make sure it does not interact with your psychiatric medication.

Analyze Your Relationships: Get Out of The Negative Ones!

It's important to sit down--or stand up, takes notes in the bath, whatever you like--and go over those who are in your 'social circle'. Break it down: For example, does Person A make you feel valuable, do you enjoy spending time with this person? Are you able to express yourself with Person B?

We need to feel comfortable with people. We need to be able to call people and just talk. Watch TV. Take a walk through the woods and jog in the rain! <--Kind of random, I know. People need people but what we do not need is people who negatively influence us. Treat others as you would like to be treated. An old adage, yes, but accurate.

It's better to be surrounded by less people if they are supportive and if you are able to support them as well. Life isn't always easy, we know this, try not waste time on people who have a negative influence on you. I could not think of a nicer way to say that. It's the reality.

Not Allowing Ourselves Enough Time to Recover

Being diagnosed with a mental illness is not like getting the flu. No kidding. It won't go away--probably--and we need to take time to come to terms with the diagnosis. To recover both mentally and physically.

We need to take time, as much as we can taking into account our family and work responsibilities, to become well! Being diagnosed is just the first step--allowing ourselves time to recover and to heal is crucial and giving yourself a break is well deserved. An award would be nice. Maybe something gold plated that states: "CONGRATS, YOU SURVIVED. NOW PRACTICE SELF-CARE!" Yeah, I'm feeling a tad sarcastic at the moment.

But to be serious, mental illness and self-care go hand in hand. Salt and pepper. Chocolate and coffee. Cigarettes and...Well, I quit. You get my drift. Let's take care of ourselves! If we only live once, well, I want to give it a good shot and I hope you do as well.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, November 15). Self-Care Practices and Recovering From Mental Illness (pt. 2), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 26 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

LoriPurdy Faitel
November, 15 2012 at 10:24 am

I am a traumatic brain injury survivor, author, advocate, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and home care professional. I know within the brain injury population incorrect titles are a sensitive thing, in recognition this as mental illness specific when I forwarded this I added a comment to the effect that we (mental ill and brain injured) share in many of these self care deficiencies.
Thanks for this blog
Be well

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