Schizophrenia is a chronic and relapsing disease that requires lifelong treatment and life style changes. Many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities by following certain guidelines. Not only will the following self-care strategies help you manage your symptoms, they will also empower you. The more you do to help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless you’ll feel.
- Never reduce or stop medication on your own. Sudden or unsupervised dosage changes are dangerous, and can trigger a schizophrenia relapse or other complications. If you’re having trouble with your medication or feel like you don’t need to take it, talk to your doctor or someone else that you trust.
- Adopt a healthy life style. In order to prevent schizophrenia, you should work to maintain a healthy daily routine. Eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, and grains. Try to limit fast food, snack foods, sugar, and caffeine. Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain your weight and contribute to overall health.
- Manage stress. Stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don’t take on more than you can handle and take time to yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Try to get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but lifestyle changes (such as getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine) can help.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Some evidence indicates a link between drug use and schizophrenia. And it’s indisputable that substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and worsens symptoms. If you have a substance abuse problem, seek help.
- Get regular exercise. Studies show that regular exercise may help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. That’s on top of all the emotional and physical health benefits! Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days.
- Do things that make you feel good about yourself. If you can’t get a job, find other activities that give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Cultivate a passion or a hobby. Helping others is particularly fulfilling.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
Recovering from schizophrenia doesn’t happen overnight. But it is possible. In fact, most people with schizophrenia get better over time, not worse. So no matter what challenges you presently face, there is always hope.