Mental Illness

Living With Mental Illness: How to Make it Through Each Day

In the U.S. alone, there are 1 in 5 people who are living with mental illness. That translates to about 51.5 million people.

If you’re one of these people then you might wonder how to make it through each day when you’re struggling with a mental illness. While mental illness can be tough to deal with, there’s hope.

This article will go over different tips and actions that you can follow for your mental wellness and to have the most positive day that you can. Read on to explore these tips and actions in order to ease your struggles today.

Be Kind

Mental illness needs to be treated like any other condition, such as a broken leg, being sick, etc. When you have a broken arm, you don’t tell yourself that you shouldn’t have a broken arm, and it’s all your fault.

Don’t tell yourself to calm down or that you have no reason to be depressed. Be kind since pushing yourself can make you less productive overall.

Get a Massage

Schedule a massage at the end of a hard day to relax. If you can’t afford a professional massage, consider asking a friend or your partner for one. Your best option is to find a massage therapist who has experience working with those who have generalized anxiety disorder, or depression.

Have Sessions With Your Counselor

Reaching out to a specialist such as Dr. Ned Hallowell can help you sift through your emotions. If you’re suffering an emergency crisis, many counselors have time slots in their day for emergency sessions. Reach out to your counselor and see if they have any no-shows or cancellations.

Before your first appointment, it’s a good idea to think about any questions that you might want to ask. Write them down to have them handy. Also, write down any current medications or vitamins you’re taking. Mention all symptoms and any traumatic events that cause triggers.

Go Easy on Yourself

Don’t expect yourself to get a bunch done on days that are harder than others. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that there’s always tomorrow. What’s most important is getting through the day and making it as relaxing as possible.

Say No To Guilt

Having a bad day is part of being human, don’t be hard on yourself. If you have thoughts running through your mind that are decreasing your feelings of self-worth, ignore them. Don’t let your achievements define who you are.

Make Yourself a Priority

Self-care is important, and about taking care of yourself first. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising. It can also include things you enjoy such as bubble baths, reading a good book, etc. Relaxation helps to reduce stress, reduce muscle pain and headaches, improve concentration, contribute to better sleep, reduce fatigue. Once a week, add a few drops of chamomile essential oil in an oil diffuser and take advantage of this moment to listen to your body.

Avoid Substances

Avoid drugs and alcohol use. Many try to self-medicate with these options, but it can impact the way that you function at work or school. It can also get in the way of maintaining a stable life.

Cook It Out

If you enjoy cooking, consider making your favorite meal to brighten your spirits. If you don’t enjoy cooking, consider getting take-out from one of your favorite restaurants when you’re having a bad mental health day.

Take a Walk

Not only does walking help reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity, but it can also help reduce stress. Instead of going for a run, a moderate-paced walk can do the trick. It can help to put your mind into a calmer state.

Heading out into nature is relaxing as well. The sun on your skin and birds chirping can be a relaxing experience for many.

If you live in a mountainous area, consider going on hiking trails. It’s best to avoid busy roads since they’re loud and can cause additional stress.

If you’re just starting out, try 10 minutes a day and slowly increase over time. Keep a journal to see how it makes you feel when you go for a walk.

Keep a Journal

Whether it’s a journal or an app on your phone, keep notes of how you feel each day. It’s also a great way to look back on your different triggers and what helps your symptoms most. You can also share your journal with your therapist.

Don’t Compare

Avoid thinking of how you’d be if you didn’t have a mental illness. Never compare yourself to others either. While someone might seem happier on the outside, you don’t know what they’re going through internally.

Think about the positives you enjoy about yourself. Know your worth and understand that mental illness doesn’t define you.

Deep Breathing

If you’re suffering from anxiety, deep breathing can help you calm down in that moment. Consider what’s known as the 5 3 7 breathing. This is where you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 3, and then breathe out for 7 seconds.

This is a way to tell your brain that everything is how it needs to be. You’ll notice that your heart will slow down instead of racing.


Never deny your emotions, be aware of them and figure out how you can tackle them. When you’re feeling anxious, be mindful of it and figure out something that can calm you, such as meditation.

If you try to ignore how you feel, it can lead to unhealthy feelings overall. Focus on learning coping skills for the feelings that you have.

Coping skills can include:

  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Replacing negative thoughts with healthy ones
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Using aromatherapy
  • Using relaxation techniques such as reading or coloring
  • Focusing on things you’re grateful for

Things to avoid saying to those living with mental illness:

  • We’re all a little crazy
  • Don’t focus on the negative
  • Everyone feels that way
  • Just pray about it
  • You have the same illness as (said person)

Reaching Out To a Friend

Reach out to those you know and trust when you’re having a bad mental health day. Never hold in how you feel since that can make you feel worse. That can lead to an increase in overwhelm, and not taking your feelings seriously.

Take a Bath

Consider taking a bath after a long day. While it won’t make your problems disappear, it’ll help you relax since you’re putting your feelings first. Put on relaxing music, light some candles, and use aromatherapy or your favorite bubble bath items.

Turn off the lights and focus on the candles and music. Make sure that your household lets you relax, and doesn’t bother you during this moment. If relaxing music isn’t your thing, you can consider listening to an uplifting podcast.

Reducing Stress in the Workplace

If you find yourself stressed out in noisy environments, consider speaking to your boss about an area with less noise for you to concentrate. You can also ask about bringing headphones to work to drown out some of the sounds.

If you have sensory problems when it comes to verbal instructions, speak with them about having the instructions in writing. For jobs that can be done from home, consider asking about working from home. On days that are harder than others, see about taking time off or having a flexible work schedule.

Treatment Options

There are different treatment options for mental illness which can include speaking with family members, counselors, taking medication, etc. While psychiatric medications aren’t a cure, they can help you manage and improve your symptoms.


Some medications can include anti-anxiety, mood-stabilizing, anti-psychotic, and anti-depressants. Anti-depressants are given for anxiety, depression, and some other conditions.

If you’re feeling a lack of energy, hopelessness, or sadness, this medication might help. Some take anti-depressants for trouble concentrating as well.

Mood-stabilizing medications are given for those with bipolar disorder. They can be used along with antidepressants as well.

Speak with your doctor if anti-anxiety medications are right for you since they can cause dependence. They’re a better option when you take them for the short-term.


Speaking with a mental health professional about your current symptoms might help. You speak about your thoughts and behavior, mood, feelings, and your condition overall. This can help you with learning stress management and coping skills.

There are long-term and short-term treatment options available. You can also consider one-on-one or group treatment as well. Find a therapist who you feel comfortable opening up to.

Living With Mental Illness: Making It Through Each Day

Now that you’ve explored more about living with mental illness and how you can make it through each day, you should have a better idea of coping mechanisms. Would you like to read more lifestyle content? For all of your lifestyle content needs, check out our other articles today.

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