No matter what your mental illness or mental health challenges look like, help is available and recovery is possible if you take the right approach long term. Use these resources to get inspired and educated to take the first step towards a future you can look forward to.
The first step to any recovery process is receiving the appropriate mental health treatment. Even if you are unsure where to turn, asking for help from a licensed psychologist or mental health advocacy group can point you in the right direction. Consulting with a licensed professional ensures that the treatment you receive is not only appropriate for your needs, but is backed by studies proving you are likely to feel better. Evidence-based treatments are especially necessary if you struggle with mental illness.
Research these treatment options if you are looking for help:
- Licensed psychologists
- Helplines and hotlines
- Mental health advocacy groups
- Psychiatrists who prescribe medication along with treatment
- Holistic doctors
Finding a community that supports you and stands by your mental health experience plays a pivotal role in successful recovery. Being in safe spaces and company without stigma around your struggles is a healthy way to spend time with others and perhaps even find people who have the same challenges. Perhaps you learn about how others have approached recovery, learning about different treatment options and resources available. Maybe you build a support system of accepting individuals that improve your recovery experience simply by being there for you. Finding and nurturing your community reminds you that you are not alone.
Explore these resources if you need an accepting support system:
- Support groups specific to mental illness
- Sober clubs and groups
- Events and rallies advocating against stigma
Change of Environment
Changing your environment can be a refreshing and much-needed aspect of successful recovery. More often than not, the environment you were in before treatment had qualities that did not support your best mental health. Taking action to experience an environment conducive to treatment gives you a healthy change of pace and a better idea of the spaces you’ll need for long term recovery. Maybe you need to remove yourself from unhealthy temptations or experience 24/7 support in the early stages of your recovery. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available for you to experience time away in a treatment-specific center.
Explore these options if you need a change of scenery during treatment:
- Alternative rehab centers for addiction and other mental disorders
- Clincal inpatient centers with in-house psychologists
- Sober getaways and rehab travel experiences
- Wellness retreats centered around mental health
- Mental health community centers
Health and Wellness
Successful recovery requires special attention to your own health and wellness habits. Although mental illness and other mental health challenges might make it difficult to take good care of yourself, the perfect wellness routine is the one that is realistic to you. Setting attainable goals that feel like a good fit for your stage of recovery is important if you want your routine to improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Eating healthy during recovery also promotes your best energy levels and mental health. Maybe a realistic routine is simply getting more sleep if you are just beginning treatment. Perhaps you feel like an ambitious fitness routine will motivate you more. However you choose to implement healthy habits, do what works for your stage of recovery.
Healthy habits to practice include:
- Eating whole, plant-based foods when possible
- Learning how to prepare meals at home
- Practicing meditation and deep breathing
- Using essential oils and herbal supplements
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Spending 30 minutes moving daily
- Stretching and walking whenever possible
If you are new to your journey of recovery or treatment, asking for help and advocating for yourself might be a daunting experience. Especially with some cases of asking for help and taking the first step towards sharing personal struggles, stigma around mental illness prevents people from getting help. Remembering that you are not alone will remind you to explore resources and advocate for yourself if needed. There may be moments in your recovery where you feel you need extra support in treatment, or that government/nonprofit agencies need more resources available for you to recover. Self-advocacy simply means communicating to ensure your needs are met.
Examples of advocacy include:
- Getting involved with mental health advocacy groups
- Attending local government meetings to ask for mental health resources
- Communicating with your therapist or treatment teams when you struggle
- Finding health insurance with mental health treatment options
- Rallies or events that spread awareness and reduce mental health stigma
Achieving progress in mental health recovery means having a realistic sense of where you are now and where you’d like to be. Learning how to set SMART goals ensures that you can stay motivated and follow clear next steps to reach any goal you set for yourself. Remember that any goal in your recovery is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are realistic and aim for something that will make you feel good. A great example of a recovery goal is to have attended every psychologist appointment in a month’s time. Another could be having purchased healthy groceries during your next shopping trip. No matter your goal, let your recovery go at your own pace and you will always feel proud of your progress.
More ideas for SMART recovery goals include:
- Spending time journaling every day in a week
- Taking medications on time and communicating with your psychologist
- Making a new friend at support groups each week
- Researching “X” amount of options for holistic centers
- Cooking healthy meals each weeknight
- Sleeping by a certain time each night
Finding your intrinsic motivations in life allows you to stay motivated and find meaning in your recovery. When you are in touch with goals and activities that inspire you, you are more likely to challenge yourself through the more difficult parts of your treatment. Staying fulfilled throughout recovery can look like celebrating the small wins or incorporating activities that inspire you to see a bright future for yourself. Working with your psychologist is a powerful way to get in touch with unhealthy habits or aspects of your mental illness that took you away from doing things you love. When you get to the root of your struggles, you can move forward in a healthy way and begin implementing things that light you up.
Ideas to find your fulfillment include:
- Volunteering and community service hours
- Meditation and journaling
- Job and career exploration
- Taking classes on a new subject
- Attending talks on topics you like
- Finding ways to help others
A Holistic Approach for Life
Taking a holistic approach to your long term mental health allows you to embrace positive change along the way. By educating yourself on the resources available, you are empowered to ask for help and make small changes at your own pace. By learning what motivates and inspires you, you are more likely to advocate for yourself during the recovery process and treat your body well. Setting SMART goals in collaboration with your treatment provider allows you to stay on track and feel pride in where you are going. Use these tips to explore your options and take the first step towards a great recovery.