Mental illnesses can be incredibly debilitating. Many of them lead to loss of work, a decrease in physical health, strained relationships, and even, at its worst, to loss of life. The importance of everyday efforts to fight back against Mental illness cannot be stressed enough. Often it’s these little victories that give people the encouragement they need to take on the next day and the day after.

Here are some tips to increase your everyday victories over mental illness and its invisible grip.

Avoid isolation

Isolation poses a huge risk for those who suffer from a mental illness. Often someone with a mental health issue such as depression may seek solitude out of lack of energy or due to a perception that they do not deserve to burden others with their struggles. However, isolation is where mental illnesses thrive. The lack of outward stimulation can cause certain negative thoughts to multiply.

Without direction, the mind has little choice but to focus on those thoughts, and their symptoms can multiply.

A simple walk outside in the fresh air can combat the effects of isolation. Talk on the phone with someone or meet up with a friend. A little socialization goes a long way. This includes time with animals, as well. Some people respond incredibly well to interacting with pets. Many local shelters or humane associations accept visitors because it helps socialize the animals.

Behavioral activation

Behavioral Activation is a therapy term that simply means participating in activities that boost one’s mood. Binge-watching Netflix doesn’t fall into this category; behavioral activation focuses on the active doing of a project. Productivity is an important factor because it leaves one with a sense of success and achievement, which can do wonders for self-compassion and feelings of positivity.

Such activities can include coloring, reading a book, going to a coffee shop, spending time with friends or family, and so much more. There are countless behavioral activation ideas to appeal to every type of person.

Self-care

Self-care encompasses everything from behavioral activation to brushing your hair. It refers to those daily activities we perform to keep ourselves clean, nourished, and healthy.

Some self-care activities include showering, moisturizing, exercise, eating well, socializing, and so on. Looking after yourself becomes very important during the difficult times brought on by mental illness because it's one of the first things people tend to let go of. On difficult days, many stop putting the effort into taking care of themselves. This is a red flag and a signal that someone needs to take extra care to support themselves.

This can feel like the hardest thing to do, but if motivation is the issue, set a timer for two minutes. Humans have the energy to do almost anything for two minutes. Use that two minutes to perform a self-care activity, like washing your hair or brushing your teeth. You may feel a lot better afterward and realize you have the energy to do more.

Make a schedule

If you have chunks of empty time in the week or need help keeping up with your responsibilities, a schedule can be very effective. Even if you’ve never been the person with a planner, it’s a good idea to develop a schedule so that your day isn’t full of long periods with no activity, a prime opportunity for mental illness to do its dirty work. Keeping busy helps keep the mind on positive, productive work instead of allowing thoughts to spiral into the negative.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness in this context refers to slowing down and paying attention to how you feel. This isn’t intended to suggest that you have to pretend everything is fine; it’s not fine, and that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel not okay. Find a place to be still, breathe in deeply, and allow the feelings to just be there. Observe them. Let your body respond to sadness or frustration or anxiety. If you need to cry or laugh or rest, do that. Bottling up emotion only temporarily solves the problem. By letting yourself respond to the emotion, you acknowledge its existence and can better connect your mind and body to each other. It’s a grounding exercise meant to help process your emotions and eventually allow them to pass.

Silence self-blame

Something many people encounter is guilt. Remember that you do not need to feel guilty for experiencing a mental health issue. You have a neurological glitch in your brain that causes a chemical imbalance, and that is not your fault. Depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, and other such mental illnesses are takers, and they strive to take every aspect of your life from you. However, at the end of the day, it is you who truly holds the power over your mental illness. You decide how much it will take from you. So keep taking care of yourself, keep doing fun things, and keep up the hard work even when it exhausts you.

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