Healthy Living

Healthy LivingFact Sheets |  Resources

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 illness develop other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, because their health is overlooked. If your doctor is not asking you 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.

Manage stress: Everyone has stress. It's 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. Know your limits. Practice stress reduction techniques.Know your triggers. Talk to someone.

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

Watch what you eat: Sometimes, medicines can cause you to gain weight. Other times, eating unhealthy foods can cause weight gain. Here are some short cuts you can take to healthy living. Speak with your health care professional to learn more about how to have a healthy diet.

Healthy LivingExercise: Along with a healthy diet, exercise can improve your health and well-being. Exercising regularly can increase your self-esteem and confidence; reduce your feelings of stress, anxiety and depression; improve your sleep; and help you maintain a healthy weight. Here are some things you can start doing now to get active:

Check out your local community center for free, fun activities.Take a short walk around the block with family.Take the stairs instead of the elevator.Turn on some music and dance.

Do something you enjoy: During the week find time to do something you enjoy. Read a book or magazine, go for a walk or spend time with friends. Taking time for yourself to have fun and laugh can help you relax, ease stress and improve the way you feel.

Connect with others: Spending time with positive, loving people you care about and trust can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall.

Substance Abuse: If you find yourself drinking or using drugs to cope, it is time to seek help. Although using drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, substance abuse can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and complicate recovery. It can also cause abuse or addiction problems. To find help now, call 800-662-HELP or visit

Smoking: If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. Smoking puts you at risk for problems like heart disease and cancer. For more information about quitting, call, 800-QUIT-OW or visit

Fact Sheets

Enhance Your Health- Ways to Handle Tension
Ten Tips for your Mental Health


Mental Health America's Live Your Life Well! Campaign