After time and lots of hard work, you have achieved recovery and have now left treatment to begin your life anew. However, the work doesn’t stop because you have finished your treatment; it has just begun. Staying in recovery is something you will need to be vigilant about, as several pitfalls exist that can potentially cause a relapse. Each of these is unique to the mental health disorder that was being treated, which your treatment providers should go over before you are discharged.
To help prepare you for life outside treatment, here are some things to keep in mind to avoid any stumbling blocks that may find themselves in your way. These are very important things to remember, even for those that have never gone through treatment. Anyone can make use of the advice below, but these are especially valuable for those who are out of treatment and need extra help to stay healthy.
Keep in Touch With Your Recovery Team
Just because your treatment is finished doesn’t mean you won’t need help again in the future. Much like how a person visits the doctor to make sure they are healthy, you will need to do the same with your mental health. Most treatment centers offer support groups or classes post-treatment to help you adjust to society again. Perhaps the most helpful thing of all is knowing that any time, you have someone you can contact if you have a question or feel you need help again.
Making preventative care appointments is a great way to help keep your mental health in shape. These appointments also help your team spot potential problems before they get worse. This way, problems that can derail your recovery can be taken care of in a safe environment where you don’t have to face them alone.
Remember that a relapse doesn’t make someone a failure or weak. No mental health professional will ever judge you for needing some extra help.
Remove Toxic Influences to Prevent Relapse
It’s important to know who truly has your best interests at heart. Those that constantly discredit your feelings or encourage destructive behaviors should not be a part of your life. For example, someone with a substance use disorder (SUD) should not associate with people who pressure each other to use substances. If people make you feel so bad that you are tempted to use substances to deal with them, they should be removed from your life.
There is something called the ‘crab bucket’ mentality used to describe toxic people. This is a reference to how in a bucket of crabs, each crab will grab and pull down others that are attempting to escape. Toxic people don’t like it when other people are happy and will do their best to destroy that happiness. It may be the hardest thing you will ever have to do, but you must cut these people out of your life to stay healthy.
Someone isn’t your family just because you are related to them by blood. Family represents people who love and care about you. Surrounding yourself with those that love you makes relapsing more difficult.
Find Something That Gives Your Life Meaning After Recovery
Giving yourself something positive to do and think about is very important post-treatment. This gives you the chance to take all the skills you have learned and put them to use in a way where you see tangible results. It is especially true if it is something you are passionate about. Having a hobby that includes other people is one way to go about this. Many people, though, tend to look for ways to improve their communities or even the planet.
For example, many people go on to do volunteer work once they feel better. Before, they were trapped in their negative symptoms and unable to see any positivity resulting from their lives. Now that they feel well, they have the energy to accomplish things that have a direct impact on someone’s life. Some may volunteer their time at an animal shelter. Another might start a communal garden to grow nutritious foods for local families. A few might even decide to pay it forward and become mentors and supporters to others.
Some people may also get an emotional support animal (ESA). These are animals that help relieve the symptoms of a mental health disorder but are not highly trained like a psychiatric service dog (PSA). ESAs are legally protected in some instances but not as much as service animals. However, they still play an important role in someone’s mental health as a loving friend. Your therapist will know about ESAs should they be asked. The option is there for those that have the means to love and care for one and may make a difference in your life.
It is important to show yourself how much good you can give the world. Knowing that your existence is important in the life of someone else can give you strength. Without this, many people feel as though their lives lack meaning. This often spirals down into negative thinking, which can cause a relapse. That is not to say someone must stay happy all the time because life doesn’t work like that. But giving yourself something joyful to cherish each day can be what you need to stay strong.
Always remember that it’s okay to ask for help, no matter what. At any given time, should you feel as though you may relapse, call your therapist right away. Keep this in mind, and you will always have someone in your corner, no matter how bad things may seem.
Your mental health journey doesn’t end with finishing treatment. Much like the rest of your body, you must be aware of your mind to keep it healthy too. However, you don’t have to manage it alone, nor do you have to be afraid. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we help you beyond the treatment process. We teach you the skills you need to succeed post-treatment so you can enjoy life again. Even if you stumble along the way, we will always be here to help you get back up again. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health and would like help, call (949) 647-4090 today to speak with our compassionate staff.