Forgotten Dad's story:
Learning to trust others
Don't do it alone...
Thriving with a second chance
Now that you've made the decision to begin your journey to recovery, below are some tools to aid you in the process. Identifying tools and developing plans will help you be more prepared and empowered to take action when it comes to your recovery. Here are healthy steps to take:
People in recovery offer the following suggestions:
As you work on your recovery, you might want to write down some of your main goals. These goals can be short-term and easily achievable, or you can start identifying bigger, more long-term goals that you want to work your way towards. It's helpful to think of small steps to take toward them over a certain amount of time, like a week or a month. Remember to congratulate yourself for any successes. Achieving goals - even small ones - is a sign of hope and accomplishment.
Developing goals for recovery can be tricky, especially if you aren't sure what it is that you want to accomplish. Consider your interests, things that bring you joy and things that keep you motivated. Also, think about the things you want, like where you want your life to go or what you would do more of if you could. Having a deep investment in the goals that you set will increase the chances of completing them.
Once you have set goals for yourself, you need to figure out what things are necessary to accomplish those goals. Be clear about why you set this goal and how your life will be different once this goal is achieved. You should also consider the strengths and skills that you possess that will help you achieve your goal. Try to involve necessary support systems and resources that can help you through the process if and when you need it. Finally, remember to stay focused on the goal and not on the difficulties you might be having. Keep an open mind, and know that you may hit barriers along the way. Recovery is no easy task, and focusing on the negative experiences will only make things harder.
Create a journal or scrapbook with pictures and clippings to help maintain your goals. Keeping a journal or scrapbook is a good way to track your goals and remind you of the things you've accomplished and the things you still plan to accomplish. Continue to add new goals as they come up. Recovery is a constant process and continuing to set goals for yourself will keep you motivated to reach and maintain wellness.
Taking good care of yourself is paramount to the success of your recovery process. People in recovery find that their physical, spiritual, and emotional health are all connected, and that supporting one supports the others. Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you stay well.
To help support you in your recovery, you can access a three-minute screening tool and progress monitor for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Click here to take the screener or mark your progress.
Some tips for self-care include:
The National Institute of Wellness has created an online "wellness" screener that allows you to keep track of your own recovery journey. Visit the NIW's website at http://www.testwell.org/twfree.htm to obtain your wellness score.
You can also visit www.LiveYourLifeWell.org to learn more about the 10 Tools to Live Your Life Well.
The importance of incorporating joy, spirit, and relaxation in your life has many implications in developing resiliency (the ability to recover from an illness) and staying healthy. The four C's to joy, spirit, and relaxation are: connect with yourself, connect with others, connect to your community, and create joy and satisfaction. As you use these four C's remember to continue trying to push your comfort levels and do things you may not have done before.
It is important that you check in with yourself periodically. If you do not then you may not realize that things are changing or getting out of control. Checking in with yourself allows you the opportunity to evaluate where you are in your recovery. You may find that you need to readjust what step of your action plan you are on or try different coping tools.
If you have had low times in the past you understand how hard it can be to get out of those places. Learning all that you can about your mental health condition will help let you know that your hard times are not your fault. Making a list of accomplishments that you have achieved is a good resource to turn back to when you are feeling low.
Another tool that may help you is to journal about your experiences. Keeping a journal is a great way to learn about yourself. Being completely honest in your journal is important; in your journal, you should feel free to let your guard down. This will help you discover how you really feel and vent your stress in a non-threatening manner.
Another method of connecting with yourself is to become an advocate and share your story. There has been a lot of research that explores the power of storytelling as a form of therapy. Sharing your own experiences through writing or talking is an important stage of recovery. Just as you are supported by reading the thoughts and experiences of others you can also be the person that helps lift another.
Spending time with positive, loving people you care about and trust can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall. They may be family members, close friends, members of a support group or a peer counselor at the local drop-in center. Many communities even have warmlines (free hotlines run by people with mental health conditions) that you can call to talk to someone and receive peer support.
Research points to the benefits of social connection:
Connection happens when you get:
Do you have enough support? Ask yourself if you have at least a few friends or family members who:
A great way to feel emotionally strong and resilient in times of stress is to feel connected to a broad community. Think about the things you like to do. You can expand your social network by looking into a community organization that brings people together who share the same interests. For instance, many communities have local biking, hiking, or walking groups. Is there something you've always wanted to do like learn a new language? Take a class, or join a local group. You also may find the support you need through local support groups for a specific issue like parenting, dealing with a health problem, or caring for a loved one who's ill.
Or consider volunteering with a community organization that helps fill a need. Here are some tips to make sure your volunteer experience works for you, and does not become an additional source of stress:
Living with a mental health condition can be taxing emotionally, physically, and mentally. Experts have found that good feelings can boost your ability to deal with stress, solve problems, think flexibly, and even fight disease. Taking care of your body emotionally, physically, and mentally through creating joy and satisfaction is an important part of living with or without a mental health condition.
Studies show that:
Some tips to enjoy life and relax:
Research shows that meditation offers not only calm, but also helps with anxiety and depression, cancer, chronic pain, asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure.
To get started, all you need is a few minutes each day. Later you may want to work up to 10, 20, or 30 minutes. You can find one of many meditation options in a book or CD, online, or in a class. Or you can try some suggestions below. If one doesn't work, stay calm...and try another.
Types of Meditation: