Being both mentally and physically healthy is essential to overall well-being. Recovering from a mental health challenge is a process that involves hope, action, problem-solving, and tapping into or building up your support system. Many people benefit from the support of a professional who can work closely with them in the recovery process, but there are also self-help tools available for managing symptoms and making progress toward recovery. Even seemingly small steps can help give you hope that things will get better.
When addressing a mental health challenge, you can take several practical steps to begin feeling better. There are also many resources available to support you in your recovery, including a variety of brief self-assessments.
Try to work these general self-care practices into your daily routine:
- Walk, jog, or work out within your physical limits. Physical activity can improve your mood and help you sleep better.
- Eat healthy meals regularly. Good nutrition helps your body and your mind.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Getting quality sleep can help you feel better.
- Practice relaxation and stress management techniques. Meditation, prayer, or a stress-free hobby can help focus your mind.
Try to avoid unhealthy ways of coping, which may actually make your situation worse, by taking these steps:
- Limit how much and how often you drink alcohol.
- Avoid illegal drug use.
- Take prescription or over-the-counter medications only as directed by your doctor.
- Avoid risky behaviors, such as gambling and reckless driving.
Practice these specific skills to help you cope with challenging situations:
- Use grounding and relaxation techniques. A shower, deep breathing, or time in a quiet place to collect your thoughts can help relieve stress and get you through difficult moments.
- Learn what triggers your bad feelings and make a plan for how to handle them.
- Take advantage of online tools to check yourself and guide you through immediate steps to manage what you’re experiencing.
- Explore mental health apps for Veterans, which cover a variety of topics ranging from PTSD to anger management to quitting smoking.
Reach out to your family, friends, or other Veterans to help you feel less isolated and improve your overall well-being:
- Participate in clubs or hobbies focused on something that you enjoy.
- Connect with Veterans’ groups or other social organizations,
- Volunteer in your community. Recognize that you have valuable experiences and abilities that can make a difference in the lives of others.
- Talk to other Veterans or friends and family with experiences similar to yours.
Be willing to let others know how you feel and to ask for support. Seeking information, advice, or options for tackling the challenges that affect your health, daily activities, or relationships can be a good first step. Consider connecting with:
- Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does.
- A mental health professional, such as a therapist.
- Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
- A spiritual or religious adviser