If mental health issues are medical disorders, then they need medical and evidence-backed solutions and treatments. This is why it’s so important for us to seek professional help—because it’s the only way for us to gain access to a treatment plan that’s good for us, and we know has a history of being effective.
Moreover, in the same way that we would have to make some lifestyle changes if we’re diagnosed with a physical or physiological disease, we also need to build healthier habits if find ourselves diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
If you or someone in your family were recently diagnosed with a mental health disorder, then making some healthy lifestyle changes is of paramount importance. Here are some tips to help make a seamless transition:
Take it slow
The last thing you want is to make drastic changes in a short amount of time because it might throw you off-kilter and do you more harm than good. We indeed need to capitalize on whatever motivation we feel, especially if we struggle with depression which causes us to be demotivated, but doing too much too fast might cause you to crash and burn when the motivation and energy are gone.
If you are making some big changes like switching up your diet or trying a new workout regimen, do it slowly. Slow and steady wins the race. This might mean eliminating certain unhealthy foods from your diet one by one instead of removing all of them at the same time and all in one day, or starting with fifteen minutes of cardio per day then working your way up from there, especially if you haven’t worked out in years.
Give your mind and body the time to get used to changes so that you’re not disappointed if you find yourself breaking your streak earlier than expected.
Keep your finances in order
Another thing that is intrinsically linked to your mental health is your financial life. We never talk about how financial stress can also cause mental health problems, and we need to do so now. If you truly want to make lifestyle changes to improve your mental health, you cannot neglect your financial life in this process.
Consider filing for disability benefits, especially if you find that your condition is affecting your ability to keep a job or a steady income. This resource is available to you especially as you reckon with your diagnosis and adjust so that you can find a new rhythm that works for you in light of what you know about your health. Another thing you can do is to find someone you trust and you know who loves you to help assist you in assessing your financial situation, especially if it stresses you out. You can ask them to help you keep track of where your money is going every month, so you can establish a new budget that will help facilitate your medical expenses.
Incorporate nature into your routine
If you live in an area with hiking trails, consider making the habit of surrounding yourself with greenery and nature. Forest bathing is a concept that was first popularized in Japan in the 1980s, and the idea is that being around nature is good for our overall health and well-being. Studies found that nature helps lower our stress levels, and even something as simple as a fifteen-minute walk in the woods can make positive changes in our physiology.
So if you are blessed enough to live in an area with hiking trails and forests, add it to your routine so that you have somewhere to escape to whenever you’re stressed at work or feeling like you need some time away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life.
Bolster your support system
Now that you know for sure that you have a mental health disorder, now is the time to combat the temptation to keep people at arm’s length. Now more than ever, you need a strong support system to help you as you go to therapy sessions, stay up-to-date on your medications, and monitor your progress. Keep a list of people you can call for emergencies or when you simply need someone to talk to. You are not alone, and some people can help you navigate these new waters.
Managing a mental health disorder is not easy, but with the right lifestyle changes, it’s not impossible. Take it slow and easy, keep your financial life healthy, surround yourself with nature, and keep a trusted core of people in your life—and you have the building blocks for success.