In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’d like to acknowledge how interconnected together mental health and physical health are. Mental illness can exacerbate constant symptoms and stressful treatments can make it difficult to feel happy and hopeful. Anxiety is understandable when you have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring. Depression is natural when you are in pain, not sleeping well and unable to participate in activities that give you meaning. Some illnesses can even create anxiety and depression on a chemical level, through the dysregulation of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Yet, despite this complex emotional landscape, there are so many things you can do to keep your mental health in good shape even within the midst of treatment! Here are just a few of our favorites:
1. Follow your joy
Illness and the accompanying treatments will likely require giving up on things in life that made you happy. You may need to grieve for these losses – but that doesn’t mean you’ll never feel that fulfillment again, pay attention to what sparks excitement! Was there something you heard on the radio that caught your ear? Or a friend who always makes you feel calm and happy? What about that old crafting you used to do? Make time for people and activities that bring you peace, even if it means doing it for only 5 minutes or from a hospital bed.
Managing a new illness requires a reshuffling of life: activities, people, and priorities – but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing! Most people could use a reason to weed out the people and activities that don’t bring health, happiness or meaning to their life.