Self-care can be as basic as eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and generally managing your health. Healthy lifestyle changes can also improve your self-esteem and overall wellbeing, which is especially important for people managing a mental health condition like schizophrenia.
However, people with schizophrenia can often neglect healthy behaviors. A lack of motivation, one of the many symptoms can be the cause. Check out the following strategies for schizophrenics to improve their quality of life:
- Be an advocate for your own healthcare. You need to make sure you tell your doctor how serious you feel about your symptoms. Talk to your doctor and find out what you should be doing to keep healthy. Ask questions and write down instructions when taking medication and set reminders for prescription refills.
- Quit smoking. People with mental illnesses are twice as likely to smoke compared with others. Smoking increases your risk for many illnesses, and it can interfere with the absorption of your medications. Studies show that quitting smoking does not make your mental illness worse. In fact, if you stop smoking, you may be able to lower your dose and have fewer side effects such as weight gain or trouble sleeping.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain is a common side effect of drugs used to treat schizophrenia. “The medications that schizophrenics often are prescribed are notorious for stimulating appetite,” says Thomas Smith, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and medical director of the New York City Mental Health Care Monitoring Initiative.
- Be active. An active lifestyle can help prevent diabetes, heart conditions, and weight gain. If illness-related factors such as depression or negative symptoms limit your motivation, try to address the symptoms with psychological treatment.
- Get enough sleep. People with mental illness often have sleep problems. To improve sleep quality, don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages or smoke before bed, these are all stimulants. Have a bedtime snack like milk or turkey, which are natural sleep inducers. Go to bed at the same time each night. However, don’t try to fall asleep if you’re wide awake. Relax before bed with a book or soothing music.
People with schizophrenia must take care of body and mind. The healthier your body, the better you will feel physically and mentally.