People who suffer from mental illness will find that many mental disorders have a horrible knack of getting into every crevice of a person’s life. Pretty soon, disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar can chip away at a person’s sense of self and make accomplishing even the most basic tasks in day-to-day life feel like enormous mountains to climb. This is because most mental disorders operate by keeping you in a condition that makes those same disorders flourish.
If you are feeling depressed, depression often makes people act in ways that prolongs that same depression. For this reason, it is important for people who live with specific mental disorders to build habits that help them protect themselves from the worst effects of mental illness, so that they can mitigate these effects until the mental illness is something that no longer impairs their life, because they have learned to deal with it.
Always get plenty of sleep
One powerful way that different types of mental illness are able to break down a person is by disrupting their sleeping habits. It is crucial for a person to get an ample amount of sleep, in order to maintain good physical and mental health. However, this need is amplified when a person needs to keep themselves in a strong state of mind to deal with the effects of a disorder like depression or generalized anxiety.
For this reason, always make sure to get plenty of sleep and make a point to schedule your days to leave time for healthy sleep. Having a friend, partner, or family member hold you to this sleep schedule can make each day easier, or at least not start you off with a disadvantage, when it comes to dealing with a mental disorder.
Notice your behavior patterns
The thing about many types of mental illness is that the effects of many disorders are hard to recognize when you are in the midst of them. A person with bipolar 2 doesn’t feel they are being irrational when they have extreme reactions to a mild situation because the emotions that they are feeling are very real. However, even though these emotions are real, it is important for a person to take steps that help them recognize patterns of destructive or irrational behavior. This helps them avoid engaging in dangerous behavior that is going to tear apart other good habits that they’ve built.
Try to reduce stressful situations
Mental disorders often have triggers that causes the worst symptoms of them to surface, in the same way that poor air quality might trigger a child with asthma. These sorts of triggers can vary, greatly, depending on the individual person, especially if the mental disorder has its roots in a traumatic incident (such as PTSD). However, one general trigger that can spark a bad episode of depression or anxiety is stress.
For this reason, it is important to avoid needlessly stressful situations. That isn’t to say that you should try to shut down any situation that is stressful, as that would be an unrealistic way to live life, and things like losing a job or going through a divorce are sometimes outside of our control. Instead, you should develop strategies to determine whether a situation is high-risk, and to keep you from engaging in behavior that sparks further conflict.
Learn breathing techniques
The key to coping with mental illness until it doesn’t have much of an effect on your life is to expand a toolbox of mechanisms that make each obstacle easier and easier, until you have mastered mitigating the disorder. One of the most important of these tools is breathing techniques. According a Harvard Medical School study in 2016, breath control is able to “quell” a person’s stress responses.
To develop breathing techniques that are effective, you can practice by finding a good place to sit or lie down, and then taking normal breaths. Once you are comfortable, start to take deep breaths in through your nose (slowly), and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Put your whole body into breathing, as well, by rising your chest and stomach as you breathe in.