Contributed by September Blogger of the Month, Cynthia Stevison
No one told me that recovery was possible. I hid because of the discrimination and the stigma surrounding my mental health issues. By sharing my story I want to give you hope of healing. I have a wellness plan. I saw little growth at first. Changes can be slow and frustrating.
You must start somewhere.
Recovery and healing is a long process. Be prepared to be humble and patient with yourself. Learn to practice a judgment free zone. This is a lifelong journey.
When I started focusing on wellness living it enabled me to live a better life.
When I retired I thought my life would stop but it has expanded further than I ever imagined. I am an author, entrepreneur, coach, and an advocate. Now on the other side of recovery I look back and I can see growth over the last ten years.
Yes, I still battle with depression however my life is manageable and happy.
We are all unique beings on different paths. We are all constantly evolving creatures.
I want to share my tips discovering wellness one step at a time.
Top 7 Tips for a wellness plan
People with mental health issues are a higher risk for medical illnesses. Let’s get started on a plan now.
- Get a journal
Expressive writing for 15 to 20 minutes a day over the course of several months has been found to reduce stress and significantly reduce sickness. It can get you thinking. Writing can let you relive events in a safe environment. Counselors and therapist often encourage their clients to journal. The key is to focus on what you are thinking and feeling during the writing exercise. Writing makes it real. Just a few minutes writing provides me with a sense of relief.
- Eat three healthy meals a day
Try to reduce your intake of refined sugars and caffeine. Eating three healthy meals a day is a challenge. This improves your health. Try to avoid eating fast food. Old habits are hard to break. Remember caffeine can trigger mania and impair sleep. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t skip meals. Be mindful of what you put into your body. Start fresh each day. Drink water, then drink more water.
- Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in our well being. Getting enough sleep supports healthy brain function. Sleep helps your brain work properly. Sleep also plays an important role in your physical health too.
- Exercise 3x a week
Find what is best for you. These are examples: Yoga, Walking at a park, You Tube videos, find and join a local gym. Exercise improves your energy levels, and concentration. Exposure to the sun is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with helping mood boosting and focused feelings. Exercise releases endorphins. It helps to reduce stress, improve self confidence and helps control addiction. It is simple
- Join outdoor activities
It is about impact, connection, and support. Opening yourself to others strengthens your community. It is a simple plan that takes practice. The light exposure can increase your level of vitamin D. This vitamin fights infection and helps regulate your immune system. Being outdoors can relieve depression and negativity. Discover nature’s healing powers. Natural environments hold a spiritual well being for us. When we connect with nature we connect with ourselves.
These are examples to help you get started: Visit your local dog park, take a bike ride, wildlife watching in your neighborhood. Start a garden, or go camping. Treat yourself to a backyard BBQ or go to the lake and bond with water sports.
- Support systems and social relationships
Learn to be around people. Make a point of getting out of the house. Social isolation is a recipe for trouble. Make a list of supportive people in your life. Stay in touch with them regularly. Focus on the positive things in your life.
Go visit a relative or take a class. Join a book club or have friends over for game night. Schedule a potluck dinner with family or friends. Find a local casual team sport or join a local support group. Remind yourself of gratitude.
- Crisis plan
There is no one size fits all solution to mental health. Believe in your plan and let it be your compass. Mental illness doesn’t define a person. Check with your local law enforcement about Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT). Our lives are always changing and certain circumstances can trigger us: death, trauma, stress, illness, divorce. We can plan ahead. Make sure your crisis plan is disclosed to your support team. Include phone numbers, crisis hotlines, doctors, medication and diagnoses. Make sure your plan is followed by everyone. Construct an accountability plan too. Remember it is helpful to forgive. Practicing a manageable life can be difficult but keep trying. Soon your body and mind will get into a rhythm. It is okay not to be alright all the time.
Everything changes, good things, bad things, satisfying and unsatisfying and so on. Following these tips can help you build better habits. This will give you an opportunity to take control of your destiny and maybe find relief by mending old wounds. Doing small shifts in energy can make a more peaceful and centered you. Maybe these tips will help you experience a few things in order to open up space for positive interactions. Use these tips as a compass.
Start with one or two goals. Remember, you carve the plan. Do things your way. Soon your
body and mind will get into a rhythm. It takes lots of practice. Start each day fresh. Don’t judge yourself.
Cynthia Stevison is the author of The Tree of Happiness available on Amazon. She writes about mental health awareness and you can read more about mental health and happiness on her blog, Root Words Alliance. She is a speaker and an entrepreneur. Cynthia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She lives in Oklahoma.