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Healthy Living

A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. When we look after our physical health, we feel better too – fitter, more relaxed and better able to cope with things. This is especially important when you have a mental illness. There are lots of ways of being healthy that feel good as well as doing you good.

What healthy living means

  • ‘Healthy living’ means maintaining a healthy lifestyle and introducing habits that improve your health.
  • It’s about enjoying yourself without risking your health. It’s what you eat and drink; sleeping well and managing stress. It’s about practicing safe sex, drinking alcohol responsibly and not abusing drugs. It’s about being physically active and staying connected with others.
  • It’s about being aware of any health risks related to your illness and its treatment, and working with your doctor to monitor these and then take action.
  • It’s taking responsibility for your overall health including having regular check-ups for your eyes and teeth.
  • It’s about feeling fitter physically, mentally and emotionally.

Benefits of healthy living

Feeling better mentally
Regular exercise can lift your mood and help you feel better.

Saving money
Eating junk food, smoking, and drinking sugary drinks or alcohol are all expensive habits.

Fewer health problems
Living a healthier lifestyle means a lower risk of developing many illnesses.

Taking control of your life
Getting healthy helps you feel in control of your life.

Getting healthy
A lot of what we do is driven by habit. It can be difficult to change old habits, but there are steps you can take to become healthier. An important first step is identifying less healthy habits and learning new, positive ones to replace them.

Develop positive habits – Start slowly, be flexible and build on what you already do.

  • Try changing just one thing at a time. See the benefits that can come from eating more wholesome food, taking up exercise or quitting smoking.
  • Start slowly by making small changes that are more likely to be kept up. For example, start by going for a regular walk, instead of pushing yourself to run 5km every day.
  • Be flexible. For example, if you decide to cut down on sugar, do it gradually over a few weeks rather than all at once. By cutting down from two teaspoons in your coffee to one-and-a-half, then one and so on, your taste buds will adapt and you’re less likely to crave for the sugar.
  • Keep it interesting. If you go for a walk, why not try different ways through your park, or explore a new park altogether.
  • Choose the company you keep. Look out for others who would like to be healthier and try to plan activities with them.

Remember, increasing or adding even one new health behaviour can make a big difference to your health.

Work around challenges – There are things you can do to manage any extra challenges related to your illness and it’s treatment – such as drowsiness, sugar cravings or lack of motivation. Steps you can take include:

  • Organise daily activities around side-effects of medication. For example, if you are drowsy in the morning, organise exercise for the afternoon.
  • Discuss things with your doctor – there may be another medication you can try, or ask for referral to a specialist such as a dietitian or psychologist for expert advice.

Staying healthy

Being healthy is about more than getting fit and feeling better, it’s about staying that way too . . .

Bad habits can re-appear when we are bored, tired, stressed, anxious or when we feel down. Managing these feelings is very important.

Tips to help you stay motivated include:

  • Remind yourself why you want to be healthy.
  • Schedule regular check ups with your doctor to monitor your progress and for that extra push you may need to keep going.
  • Many people find it easier and more fun to stick with activities such as walking, swimming, cycling or shopping at a market, when they are with a friend or in a group. Join a group or see if someone you know is also interested in keeping healthy. Try setting goals together.
  • Look after your mental health too. If you start to feel down and like not bothering, it could be a sign that your mental health needs some extra care.
  • Relaxation is important. Relaxing and managing stress is an essential part of being healthy. Set aside time for ways to relax that leave you feeling good, such as listening to music or slow breathing.
  • Reward yourself. Feel good about developing healthier habits by rewarding yourself with something nice.
  • Overcome slip-ups. It’s natural at times to feel like giving up and going back to old habits. If you slip-up, be realistic and start again.
  • Learn from your slip-ups. Be positive about them – they can help you in the long run. Thinking about why they happened will help you learn to avoid them in future.


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