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Schizoaffective disorder

Explains what schizoaffective disorder is, including its symptoms and causes. Gives advice on how you can help yourself and what types of treatment and support are available, as well as guidance for friends and family.

Self-care for schizoaffective disorder

Many people who are diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder are able to live happy and fulfilling lives. Self-care can help with this.

Self-care is how you look after your daily routine and the things that affect how you're feeling. For example, exercise, relationships and diet. What helps you may be different from someone else. It’s worth trying out different things until you find what works for you.

You may find that making small changes in certain areas can help prevent some problems from developing.

It can help to:

Think about your triggers 

You might find it helpful to keep track of your experiences over a period of time. You could try doing this for a few weeks at first, noting things down in a diary or on your phone. It may be helpful to track:

  • Your moods and symptoms
  • Everyday events
  • Sleep quality
  • Your diet

Doing this may help you to spot patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It may also help you to think about situations that you find difficult, as well as those which have been helpful.

There are many online mood diaries which you may find helpful. Bipolar UK has a mood scalemood diary and mood tracker app, which are free to use.

You might want to share your observations with your close family, friends or care team. It may be helpful for them to listen to you when you're having a bad day. Or to help you keep on top of your commitments and be aware of your triggers.

Having thoughts on paper makes it easier to give them structure and find answers.

Create a crisis plan 

During a crisis, you may not always be able to tell people what helps you. While you’re feeling well, it may be a good idea to talk to someone you trust  about what you'd like to happen if you're in a crisis.

See our page on planning for a crisis for more information.

Try peer support 

You might find it very helpful to talk to other people who have similar experiences to you. Peer support can be a great way to do this.

Peer support can help you:

  • Feel more positive about the future
  • Increase your self-esteem
  • Find friends
  • Recognise patterns in your experiences
  • Develop and discuss ways of coping
  • Identify early signs of crisis

Various organisations run groups or programmes. The Hearing Voices Network hosts groups across the country for people who hear, see or sense things that others don't.

There are lots of ways to find peer support:

Try calling a helpline 

If you need to talk to someone but don't feel ready to try peer support, there are helplines you can call when you're feeling distressed. For example, Samaritans or SANEline. Talking to a trained listener could help you feel supported and make sense of what's happening for you.

Try new ways of relaxing 

It may be helpful to try relaxation techniques, such as: 

  • Yoga, meditation or mindfulness
  • Taking a shower or bath
  • Try breathing in and out slowly – some people find it helpful to count while doing this
  • Taking a walk in nature 

See our page on relaxing and calming exercises for more information.  

Other activities 

Practical activities may help to distract you. They can also help you stay connected to the present moment. Activities could include things like:

  • Gardening
  • Cleaning or tidying
  • Cooking
  • Crafts

Arts can be helpful in expressing your feelings, such as:

  • Painting
  • Music
  • Writing

Making time in your day for other activities you enjoy, such as:

  • Gaming
  • Reading
  • Watching films

For more ideas, see our pages on arts and creative therapiesnature and mental healthsleep problemsstressrelaxation and mindfulness.

Think about your diet 

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when we’re struggling with our mental health. But eating regularly can keep your blood sugar stable and really make a difference to your mood and energy levels.

For more tips see our pages on food and mood. 

I put on weight since I started medication so I have started eating really healthily. I think this has helped my depression too. 

Try some physical activity 

Physical activity can have a positive impact on our mood. It can be really helpful to focus on your body and physical surroundings. Moving your body may also help you to sleep better. Activities may include:

  • A regular walk outdoors
  • Swimming
  • Yoga or meditation

Health walks are organised locally in some areas. Your GP surgery may organise a weekly walking group. Some doctors will also prescribe an exercise programme. See our pages on physical activity and nature and mental health for more information.

Exercise is very important. If I feel I have too much energy, swimming or a fast long walk can really calm me down and help me sleep. On a low day I might not be up for a swim, but a walk into town really helps me bring my mind and body together.

Visit a recovery college

You may also find it helpful to find a recovery college. They offer courses about mental health and recovery in a supportive environment. You can find local providers on the Mind Recovery Net website.

This information was published in February 2023. We will revise it in 2026. 

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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