Experiences of psychosis

Strategies for everyday coping

People discovered different ways to cope with their mental health problems in their everyday lives. Other sections describe how they tried to recover from mental health problems (see Recovery), as well as manage their finances and accommodation (see ‘Finances, housing and benefits’). Here we focus only on how people try to cope day-to-day.
People talk about trying to deal with voices, passing the time, stressful situations, and completing everyday tasks like going to the shops. They mentioned different techniques, such as avoiding busy or noisy environments, or managing their voices using techniques by reasoning with them or listening to them for only a short period each day (see also ‘Hearing voices, seeing things and unusual beliefs’). Many “looked after themselves better”, or did “self-healing things” (e.g. meditation), others had changed their occupation or lifestyle (see ‘Work and education’).
Coping with Voices
Over time people had found better ways of dealing with their voices. Whilst a few people no longer heard voices, others still had to deal with them every day. A few people had adapted to them and didn’t want to be rid of them (see below). However most found the voices stressful or even traumatic, and had learnt ways of dealing with them better. For instance, many people tried to improve their overall well-being, which they found lessened their voices or improved the nature of them. People aimed at improvement by decreasing their stress levels (e.g. getting enough exercise, swimming, yoga, meditation) instead of concentrating on one particular experience such as voice-hearing.
Even when people were particularly unwell (e.g. in hospital) they said they could still find ways to help them cope, such as staying away from the television or even reading a trashy novel. Rachel had developed a ‘WRAP’ plan (wellness recovery action plan) in case she had a relapse: it involved her staying in a peaceful environment and ensuring that no one asked her what was going on, as she knew she couldn’t explain.
Other people found that focusing on their strengths – such as their powerful imagination or creativity – was a great way to manage unusual experiences (see below). Some techniques that people used were suggested to them by mental health professionals.
Some people used their voices as a kind of helpful marker of how they were feeling. Peter said that when his voices got bad he knew to slow down at work. Ron managed to put his voices to good use. He said that he would be lonely without them as he had had them for a long time. He also consulted them when he was making decisions.
Creativity and different activities.
Many people found creative activities particularly therapeutic. For instance, poetry, drawing, writing a journal or playing music could greatly improve overall well-being. For instance, one man found that writing down the way he was feeling helped him to better understand himself and his experiences.
People said that, whatever activities you did to “de-stress”, it was important not to allow them to become pressures in themselves.
Practical help
Many people had managed to get more practical help with things like shopping, housework and managing their money. Getting practical things under control could in turn help people feel less stressed and so cope better with daily life. Some people needed no help at all with these things, but others felt they could become easily overwhelmed. Arwen said that her step-dad helped with the supermarket shopping each week (See also ‘Support from family, friends and partners).
Kirsty heard voices coming from household appliances such as vacuums and fridges, which made it harder to keep up with the housework; she occasionally got people to help.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated April 2014.


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