Staying Healthy While Faced With Serious Mental Illness
Miriam S. Wexler, CRC, Project Coordinator, Mental Health Voter Empowerment Project
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Learning to live well while having a serious mental illness can help in your recovery. Being pro-active in your care gives you structure, vitality and hope that things can get better.

I believe that the body can, under the right circumstances, heal itself. Good mental health treatment is a part of the big picture. Our physical and mental health are connected – the mind body connection. Today people with a serious mental illness die many years younger that the rest of the population. The disabled person has much input on his recovery. However, some of it needs intervention, both on the part of the health care practitioner and governmental; because there is a disparity in our healthcare system.

But, in this article I will focus on the individual; and how we can take better care of ourselves. Good health treatment facilitates this; but ultimately we do it ourselves.

Many of us reading this newsletter have had a chronic mental health crisis. A disorder of the brain together with long standing patterns of behavior that is bad for our physical and well as mental health.

We all hear stories of people that recover from a serious illness. What are some of the ingredients that make recovery possible?

Below are some key points that make healing possible?
• Don’t smoke, drink or take drugs that aren’t prescribed by a doctor.
• Prevent obesity by healthy eating; unfortunately it is not as simple as that for many consumers. Anti-psychotic drugs may exacerbate obesity. This is an area that needs to be addressed by the mental health community. Also, the cost of healthy foods may be a factor that discourages many consumers from eating healthy.
• Try your best to do the following: eat a rainbow of colors, plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also eat small quantities of nuts, avocados and healthy fats like olive oil.
• Stress ages you; try to distress: try deep breathing
• On the road to wellness exercise is important. Try to exercise often. Start gradually than increase. Try to walk rapidly.
• Connect to a higher power; spirituality, meditation and guided imagery help recovery.
• Social relationships with friends and family (when possible) foster a sense of belonging and are therapeutic.
• Bring beauty into your life because it enhances your appreciation of life.
• Make friends with animals; adopt a pet
• Keep a positive attitude; and be grateful for the little things that come into your life.

This is a guideline to health and wellness; the physical and mental must be addressed together for the individual with any serious illness.
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