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Staying Well When You Have a Mental Illness

When you have a mental illness, you may not realize how important your overall health is to your recovery. Having poor overall health can get in the way and make recovery harder. Finding ways to take care of your health can aid your recovery and help you feel better overall. Here are some things you can do.

Advocate for yourself. You deserve good health care. All too often, people with mental illnesses develop other health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, because their health is overlooked. If your doctor is not asking about your overall health, let him know that it’s important to you and essential to your recovery.

Get the care you need. Get routine check-ups and visit your doctor when you’re not feeling well. It may be due to your medicine or a symptom of your mental illness. But it could also be a different health problem.

Manage stress. Everyone has stress. It is a normal part of life. You can feel stress in your body when you have too much to do or when you haven’t slept well. You can also feel stress when you worry about your job, money, relationships, or a friend or family member who is ill or in crisis. Stress can make you feel run down. It can also cause your mind to race and make it hard to focus on the things you need to do. If you have a mental illness, lots of stress can make you feel worse and make it harder to function. If you are feeling stressed, there are steps you can take to feel better:

  • Slow down and take one thing at a time. If you feel like you have too much to do, make a list and work on it one task at a time.
  • Know your limits. Let others know, them too. If you’re overwhelmed at home or work, or with friends, learn how to say “no.” It may be hard at first, so practice saying “no” with the people you trust most.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques. There are a lot of things you can do to make your life more peaceful and calm. Do something you enjoy, exercise, connect with others or meditate.
  • Know your triggers. What causes stress in your life? If you know where stress is coming from, you
    will be able to manage it better.
  • Talk to someone. You don’t have to deal with stress on your own. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, support group or counselor can make you feel better. They also may help you figure out how to better manage stress in your life.

Plan your sleep schedule. Sleep can affect your mood and your body and is important to your recovery. Not getting the right amount of sleep can make day-to-day functioning and recovery harder. For tips on how to sleep better, contact the National Sleep Foundation at 202-347-3471 or visit

Staying Well When You Have a Mental Illness

Mental Health America

APA Reference
America, M. (2020). Staying Well When You Have a Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.