Patient Blogs | Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia and Self-Care: What It Looks Like to Me
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Self-care should be an important part of all our lives. Current events, work, and keeping up with everyday stress can take a toll on our overall well-being. It’s important that we all take steps to practice self-care.

Incorporating healthy self-care practices into daily life can have lasting benefits. I know firsthand that practicing self-care has helped me to stay balanced and increased my empathy, bolstered my immune system, and helped me avoid burnout as well.

For many years, I didn’t know what self-care was all about because I was focusing on managing my symptoms of psychosis by taking my medication and keeping my daily hygiene regimen. Once I was able to manage my symptoms, I had the misconception that self-care is only for people with enough time or money.

In fact, self-care is the key to living a balanced life. Incorporating healthy self-care practices into your daily life can have lasting benefits. They don’t need to be expensive or time-consuming to be effective.

The most important thing I learned about self-care is that it’s not selfish and that expressing yourself is an essential form of self-care. It is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health by taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

Stress is not good for anyone but especially for those living with schizophrenia. For me, stress can make my symptoms worse. So it’s very important that I take time for self-care. I find that there are many ways to practice self-care that aren’t expensive or time-consuming. I often take self-care breaks in intervals of 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour. This way, it makes it easier to identify what works at that moment.

For example, in 5 minutes I can brush my hair, light a candle, listen to my favorite song, drink a glass of water, or write down 10 things I am grateful for.

In 15 minutes, I can take a shower, put on a face mask, go for a walk, make a smoothie, write down positive affirmations, or do a short meditation.

When I have an hour or more of time, there are many activities that I can do to practice self-care, like binge-watch a funny show, spend time with friends, create a vision board, do an intense workout, read a book, listen to a podcast, unplug from technology, organize my room/house, or cook a good meal.

Practicing self-care can be not only fun but also doesn’t take up a lot of time, and it isn’t very expensive. I find that once I’m done with my daily routine and work, taking time to fit in self-care really helps my overall mental and physical well-being. Every day I work very hard to keep my mental and physical health in check, but when I get stressed, that’s when I take a break and practice self-care so my symptoms don’t escalate.

Everyone should take time to practice self-care to stay well. Some things that can help you to find the right self-care activity is to ask yourself: What makes you feel anxious or drained? What makes you feel nourished and reenergized? What is something that YOU enjoy? What routines/rituals are important to you? What boundaries could you create (or dissolve) to support your wellness?

Self-care is different for everyone, so the examples I mentioned are a good starting point for self-care ideas. Remember, self-care is meant to complement your daily physical and mental health regimen. Doing all of these things will help your overall well-being.

             

 

 

Photo Credit: Aluxum / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Lisa Guardiola

Lisa Guardiola

Diagnosed since 2004

Lisa Guardiola has been living with schizophrenia for 17 years. Passionate about helping others with mental illness, Guardiola is a community outreach and education trainer for the Sertoma Centre and the Vice President of NAMI South Suburbs of Chicago, where she leads educational and training initiatives. She loves journaling, oil painting, and spending time with her family and cat Loki. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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