Mental illness and addiction co-occur more often than many people think. Having just one or the other can make daily life and recovery hard, but when someone must cope with both, the prospects of recovery can begin to seem impossible. While treatment from a professional is the most important part of your recovery process, there are a few ways you can tackle the effects of your illness and addiction in your daily life. This can help you keep your head above water and feel more confident in your ability to recover. We share a few beneficial lifestyle changes you should be making if you are struggling with addiction and mental illness.
Repair the Holes in Your Diet
Many people are unknowingly eating in a way that impacts their mental well-being. Nutritional gaps can aggravate the symptoms of a mental illness, while a well-rounded diet can boost mood and battle these symptoms. Addiction is often fed by untreated mental illness, just as mental illness often is fed by junk food and sugar. Eating a healthier, well-balanced diet can make your recovery process much easier.
Even if you are hard-pressed for time or money, there are ways to eat well. Slow cookers are possibly the best tool for busy people, providing a home-cooked meal at the end of your workday with minimal effort on your part. Naturally vegan meals containing alternatives to animal products are a great way to save money and improve your health.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to battle mental illness and addiction. Physical health impacts your mental health, and focusing on getting your body healthy can have a very positive impact on your mental well-being. Furthermore, exercise releases positive endorphins that boost mood and combat negative symptoms of mental illness. Even a small amount of exercise each day can help. In fact, studies are finding that short bursts of intense activity may be better than slower-paced, prolonged exercise.
Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Poor quality sleep is a main contributor to worsening symptoms of mental illness and addiction. Though you may be getting the right number of hours, you may not be getting good quality sleep. Though improving sleep quality can seem difficult, there are a few ways to tackle the problem.
One of your best bets is to establish and maintain an evening routine. A consistent series of actions at the same time each night eventually will train your brain to produce melatonin at the appropriate time and allow you to fall asleep faster as well as sleep deeper. You also may consider taking sleep supplements such as melatonin tablets or chamomile tea; these supplements are natural and should not affect your sobriety.
Reach Out to Loved Ones
When you are struggling with a stigmatized health problem, it can be very difficult to reach out and open up. However, many people with mental illness find that they grow worse without someone to confide in. Your loved ones don’t have to play therapist; they just need to listen and be open about the issues you are facing. Keeping your health problems bottled up isn’t helpful to anyone. Gather your courage and talk to someone your trust. Odds are, they want to help you.
Learning to live with addiction and mental illness is a transition. You must prioritize your mental health in a society that stigmatizes mental illness. However, it is always important to remember that you can overcome your substance abuse challenges. With the help of a professional, the support of your loved ones, and positive lifestyle changes, your life soon will be back on track.