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A new year is great for starting new endeavors and exploring new possibilities, but for those of us who are mentally ill, it can be rather daunting.

Some of us struggle just to stay afloat. With constant stigmas and Sanism being pushed on us every single day, sometimes we have to be reminded that we deserve to grow, and heal; and healing starts with coping.

Related: 7 Ways to Radically Love Yourself in 2016

Here are 9 ways you can cope with mental illnesses and totally kick their ass(es) this year, packed with loads of resources to help you get started!


1. Self Care

Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation and that is an acto of political warfare. - Adre LordeSo many of us are taught that caring for ourselves is selfish and wrong, but that’s far from true.  Practicing self-care is a radical act of self love. Lately, self-care has become a commercialized practice, since folks often turn to buying themselves something new – like makeup, or video games. While that’s fine, not all of us have the financial means to do so. We shouldn’t commercialize our self-love. Simply getting out of bed to brush your teeth, something that most neurotypical people find easy or take for granted can be self-care. Combing your hair, showering, etc. These types of things aren’t talked about as self-care often enough, but they should be.

There’s  plethora of things you can do like making your favorite food, watching movies, reading, listening to music, having a bubble bath, talking to friends; the possibilities are endless.  Keep a list of self-care ideas and continuously add to it,  write about how you’re feeling before and after your self-care, you can go back to it when you’re in need. Here’s some rad  self love and self care resources.


2. Art | Crafting | Writing

I remember when I started crocheting my mental health was terrible. Now, years later, crocheting has brought me some of the best healing; it’s so therapeutic. Be your own teacher. Give yourself the healing you deserve through your craft.  Working with your hands helps distract you and calm your anxiety. Writing can be a beautiful outlet for folks, as well as music. Discover a new craft as you’re discovering yourself, hone your craft as you’re honing yourself, evolve that craft as you’re evolving. Lose your troubles in your crafts. There are so many awesome crocheting, knitting, and writing resources out there. Immersing yourself in crafts, art, and /or writing can be great self care.

3. Therapy

Therapy can be extremely vital for some folks. Many of us are afraid to reach out, but it’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help. Having mental illnesses and coping can be difficult, we can’t do it alone all the time. Sometimes you just need someone to mediate the dialogue between you and your mind. Therapists can offer other options like wellness plans, medication, access to gender transition materials, rehab, etc. When you find a great therapist, the possibilities are endless! Also, here’s some really rad resources that might help if you’re unable to afford or gain access to a therapist.


4. Pet Therapy

Pet therapy is wonderful. There’s nothing like the unconditional love and companionship from animals; they’re the real healers! Most housing complexes or dorms can have steep fees for having pets, but most places won’t make you pay if the animal is your emotional support animal. Unlike service dogs/pets, these animals aren’t required to undergo any training. You simply need a statement from your doctor or therapist for eligibility. You can check out more on this here!


5. Grounding Exercises

These can be really helpful for folks who experience dissociation. Folks with PTSD/C-PTSD and other mental illnesses can benefit from these. They can take time to master, but once you get them down, they can really help. Here’re some great examples of grounding exercises you can do, and you can practice them anywhere you want, really.

Related: 4 Ways You Can Help a Partner With Borderline Personality Disorder


6. Meditation

Meditation can be very therapeutic. Meditation helps with anxiety and depression. Burning Frankincense resin or incense can help with depression as well. If you have trouble settling your thoughts or slowing things down, there are a lot of fantastic guided meditation videos out there. There is a lot of resources for mediation, especially on Youtube.



7. Medication Reminders

Mental illnesses can sometimes hinder your memory. It’s pretty safe to say that you’ve missed a dose or two of your medication. It can be rather tricky to manage, especially if you take multiple medications or several doses throughout the day. This is where your phone or tablet will come in handy! If you have a phone or tablet with an alarm, you can set the alarm(s) that you need to get your dose(s) on time. If there’s a calendar feature, you can also set a reminder 2-3 days before you run out so you can get your script refilled or renewed as well.


Support Groups | Support Systems

Both of these can be really great and become vital for coping and healing. Knowing you have someone in our corner is an incredible feeling. These are folks who love and care about you be it friends, relatives, folks you’ve met in support groups like AA, NA or other Support Groups. These are folks that are patient and gentle with you in times of need, listen to you, don’t dismiss you or victim blame, and respect your boundaries. Share with them plans of action they can follow when you’re feeling low/suicidal, having flashbacks, or panic attacks. Tell them things they can say to affirm, or redirect you. Let them know who else they can contact if situations are getting too rough. Share with them your triggers and boundaries so they know what to avoid. If you have trouble articulating any of this, writing it down for them can be just as helpful.

There’s nothing like solidarity. Building community and  seeing the solidarity is so healing. Forums and Facebook support groups are a really amazing alternative to in-person groups. Holding and sharing space with other folks and practicing radical vulnerability together can show you the beauty and resiliency in people who come from similar backgrounds.


9. Find Your Balance

Finding what’s best for you is imperative. I mean, if something isn’t working for you, what’s the point of doing it, right? Keep track of what helps you the most; you can even write it down somewhere. Take note of the self care ideas that help you most, people you can go to for support, alternatives to self harm etc. Asking for affirmations from your community is not selfish. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to reach out. Having a list of helpful/healthy alternatives to self destructive behavior can save your life. Know and understand your triggers, know when to step back from a situation if it’s triggering or you don’t have the energy/stability to address it. You deserve to have plans of action that are tailored to your specific needs.

Your mental illnesses are not your fault. You are a valid, whole person worthy of love and stability. You deserve to surround yourself with healthy relationships. Practice self-care, take note of the things that help you, this way you know what to do when you start to decline.

Surely things can seem hectic. Take things one day at a time, there’s no rushing healing. Trust your journey, find the methods that best suit your needs. Remember — slipping up is part of recovery. You’re an amazing, resilient force, keep it up — you can do it!


Featured Image via StockSnap.io

Nik Moreno is a 22-year-old, Chicano, disabled, Queer, Nonbinary-Guy hailing from south Texas, but currently living in northeast Pennsylvania. He’s been an activist and community organizer since 2011. He’s very passionate about intersectional feminism, activism and advocacy against ableism and sanism (for folks with disabilities and mental illnesses), and writing zines and articles to continue to educate about institutional power structures. Eventually he plans to go to College as a Cosmetology major and continue to write, advocate, and educate to shatter the white supremacist, cis/hetero patriarchy!

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