Home Mental Health & Well-Being The Importance of Looking After My Mental Health in Recovery

The Importance of Looking After My Mental Health in Recovery

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Everyone has mental health. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is simply your mental well-being, which is responsible for helping people cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well as helping individuals to work well with other people and function properly in their relationships. 

Without good mental health, all of these things are harder and strained.

Our mental health is also responsible for helping us to make the right decisions, both in everyday life and when times get tough. 

In fact, it is a human right to have good mental health, and access to mental health support is improving.

Unfortunately, many people still view mental health as simply suffering from mental health issues, which is simply not the case. Mental health includes mental wellbeing, which is much more than simply not suffering from a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.

There are a number of factors which will influence and determine our own mental health, such as your relationships, your socioeconomic status, your emotional state, whether you have suffered from trauma and whether you have been exposed to abuse, including substance abuse.

What is recovery?

Recovery can mean lots of different things. You can recover from an illness, both physical and mental and can also recover from addictions. Recovery might mean different things to different people.

For example, for some people recovery might mean recovering fully from their condition, whereas for other people recovery might mean simply managing their symptoms. 

The recovery process for most illnesses, whether physical or mental, is never straight forward. Recovery involves a lot of motivation, determination and time.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, it is incredibly important to set yourself goals during your recovery. They recommend that you use the SMART model, which stands for Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic and Time-limited. 

This means that you should be specific about your goal, ensure that your goal remains meaningful and important to you, as well as achievable and realistic. 

You will also need to give yourself a start and end date for your recovery and make sure that you set a date for each goal that you make .

Why is looking after your mental health important?

Looking after your own mental health has never been so important. Looking after your own mental health is classified as self care, which has become a bit of a buzz word of recent years.

Put simply, self care is simply prioritising some time to care for yourself and to improve your mental health, as well as your physical health. This might mean different things to different people.

 For example, some people will choose to meditate, exercise or write in a journal as a form of self care.

Some people might go on a long walk, whereas others might choose to go shopping, get themselves a coffee or take a long bath. In reality, it doesn’t really matter what your acts of self care are, as long as you are doing them on a regular basis and that they work for you.

Looking after your own mental health is incredibly important, as without doing so, your mental health can quickly spiral into a mental health crisis, which could turn into mental health issues including depression or anxiety. 

By simply maintaining good mental health, you will help to avoid a crisis like this and will live a happier, healthier and more joyful life.

Managing mental health in recovery

Managing your mental health whilst you are recovering from any type of illness, including an addiction to drugs or alcohol is incredibly important and should not be underestimated. 

If you struggle with your mental health, then you will also struggle to find the motivation and strength to focus on your recovery.

However, we all know that when you are already suffering from issues, including addiction or mental health issues, it can be incredibly difficult to spend time on your mental health and wellbeing, meaning that a lot of people’s mental health slips during their recovery. 

This makes your recovery harder and means that a lot of people slip into their unhealthy habits and mindsets.

How can I help myself?

If you are struggling with your mental health during your own recovery, then there are a number of things that you can do to improve your own mental health.

Likewise, there are a number of things that you can do to maintain your own mental health, before your mindset and mental health starts to slip in the first place.

We appreciate that recovering from any illness takes up a significant amount of your time, energy and focus. 

However, by prioritising your own mental health during your recovery, you are a lot less likely to experience a mental health crisis and require further treatment .

1. Make sure that you get enough sleep

According to mental health charity Mind, there is a strong link between sleep and mental health. 

Getting poor sleep means that you are unable to think straight and manage your own emotions, making it incredibly hard to focus on your recovery and on your own wellbeing and mental health.

Mind highlights that poor sleep often leads to more worrying, which in itself leads to an inability to sleep. This cycle can be incredibly difficult to break out of and results in your mind attempting to fight itself, night after night.

2. Get physically active

Naturally, it can be difficult to recover from an illness and be physically active at the same time. However, numerous studies have proven that being physically active has a huge impact on your mental health.

This could be any type of activity, such as running, walking, swimming or cycling. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you prioritise your physical activity on a daily or at least weekly basis. 

You’ll often find that the more you exercise, the easier and more pleasant it becomes.

3. Eat healthy foods

According to Harvard Health Publishing, nutritional psychiatry has grown in interest and popularity over the years. Diet plays a huge role on your mental health and is something that you should prioritise during your recovery.

Whilst it might be hard, try to eat three healthy meals a day, consisting of a varied and nutritional diet including enough fruit and vegetables. 

You should look out for any foods that will boost the serotonin in your body and will reduce any inflammation in your body, such as unprocessed grains, fish, beans and lean meats.

4. Learn a new skill

It is also suggested that you should try to expand your knowledge and learning during your recovery by learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby. 

This will increase the amount of dopamine in your body, as well as the amount of serotonin you will feel. You will feel a sense of achievement and empowerment and will be temporarily distracted from your recovery and illness.

5. Volunteering

Numerous studies have found a link between mental health and volunteering [8]. 

People often find that volunteering provides them with a great sense of fulfilment and pleasure, which is often something that people lack during the recovery process.

Not only will you learn valuable skills, but you will also meet new people, work on new relationships and learn how to work as a team with people from all backgrounds.

6. Mindfulness

Mindfulness and mental health are closely linked and more and more individuals are now turning to mindfulness techniques to help them when times get tough. 

This could include things such as meditating, deep breathing, walking, reading or holistic therapies such as dancing, singing or painting.

7. Avoid abusing drugs and alcohol

If you are suffering from your mental health or are recovering from an illness of any sort, then you need to avoid abusing drugs or alcohol. 

These things will only make your recovery worse and will also worsen your mental health at the same time.

Addiction and mental health are both closely linked, and many people find that abusing drugs or alcohol worsens their mental health and vice versa.

If you are trying to recover from an illness or mental health issue, then avoid turning to drugs or alcohol for support. 

This will only worsen your conditions and your mental health and could see you in rehab for a number of weeks or even months.

If you are struggling to deal with these issues alone, then reach out to one of the may alcohol rehab services, such as Rehab Recovery.

What support is available if I’m suffering from poor mental health?

If you are suffering from poor mental health, then make sure you reach out to someone for help and support. 

You should always feel like you have someone to turn to, but if you do not then there are a whole host of charities and organisations available to provide you with help and support.

When should I get help?

You should get help for your mental health issue as soon as possible, as mental health conditions will only get worse if you do not get the help you need. 

You might want to get help if you find yourself feeling increasingly stressed, anxious or worried, if you feel ‘numb’ or are struggling to find joy in your life.

If you start to feel like you can’t cope with life or certain situations, then you might want to seek help.

If you find that you are struggling with your mental health, then you should talk to your local GP to see what support you might get access to on the NHS. 

Likewise, you can seek help and support from a trained therapist, or from a charity such as Mind [10].

If you are currently employed, then you might be entitled to access to help and support through your workplace, especially if you think that your work is contributing to your mental health issues.

Suicide and crisis support

If you are suffering from a mental health crisis and are having suicidal thoughts of any nature, then reach out to someone. 

Help and support is available to those who need it and there are numerous free helplines available 24/7. Some of these helplines are listed below.

Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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