Three Tactical Ways I Dramatically Transformed my Mental Health in 365 Days
Aloha and welcome back to the Retrain Your Brain blog! If you’re new here, welcome, my name is Ella. If you don’t know anything about me yet, back in 2008 I survived a hemorrhagic stroke and a slew of mental health struggles following that. It took me until 2018 to start turning that rock bottom feeling I had into my breakthrough and I have not looked back since. Now, I post blogs every other Sunday teaching you how to turn your rock bottom into your breakthrough. If you don’t want to miss any up coming posts, make sure you subscribe here.
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram where I am more active day-to-day.
Today I am going discuss three tactical ways I dramatically transformed my mental health and really started optimizing my personal well-being!
1) Learned Helplessness
Learned helplessness is the idea that a person learns to be helpless in a situation they actually have some sort of control over. This helplessness can be learned while being repeatedly exposed to a traumatic or stressful event. Or I believe it can be learned because prominent messages on social media tell us that depression is a mental illness that should be treated exactly like a physical illness, although in my opinion, I do not believe that to be the case.
Now I’m not a doctor nor am I a mental health professional, but in my personal life experience, I found that treating a depressed mood does not actually mean treating the depressed mood itself; alternatively, treating a depressed mood means treating the multiple causes of the depressed mood depression. That could be food related causes, physical health related, vitamin and hormone related, stress management related, personal organizational related, self-confidence related, bullying related… Those were all causes I personally had to manage in order to treat my mental health, but I am sure that list can go on and on.
Before I realized those were the causes I needed to treat, I thought the true cause of my depressed mood was that I experienced a lot of negativity in my life. And I figured, in order to have good mental health, I needed negative things to stop happening to me.
As more negative things happened to me (because negativity is inevitable in life) I came to believe that I was destined for misery and that I had no control over improving my life. I learned to be helpless in my own life that, in all actuality, I have 100% control over; that means control over my behaviour and control over how I respond to others’ behaviours.
2) Medication is not responsible for improving your mental health
Because of the message I was hearing on social media (i.e. that depression was a physical illness that could only be cured with a pill), I wanted to find a doctor who would prescribe me that pill.
Once I was prescribed those anti-depressant pills I was initially relieved; I figured my life was just going to get better. But, I did not realize I needed to be an active participant in improving my mental health. And since I was not an active participant, you can probably guess what ended up happening — my mental health did not improve and I figured nothing (not even the pills) were going to help me improve my wellbeing.
Fast forward to today (2020), I realize that the pills were only meant to be an aid to improving my well-being; they were not meant to be solely responsible for improving my wellbeing. The way I personally describe being on anti-depressants is that they dulled all of my emotions so that I had the opportunity to start learning tactical self-care and resiliency tools. Once I had a tool box full of tools and I got in a lot of practice using them, I became comfortable and confident enough to start weaning-off the medication.
That leads me to the third way I transformed my mental health …
3) Resilience over avoidance
For most of my life until 2018, I thought that a better well-being meant less negative things happening to me. So I tried my best to avoid negative situations, and when they did happen (because of course they did) I thought I was destined for misery. Now this avoidance mindset is completely unrealistic. If you have an avoidance mindset like I did you are always going to be disappointed because you cannot control everything and everyone in your life, you can only control your responses.
That said, I want you to adopt the mindset I have now – a resilience mindset. Resilience refers to how quickly you can recover after a negative impact. To adopt that mindset, you need to do two things:
(1) expect that negative things may actually happen in your life so you’re not disappointed or surprised when they do, and
(2) do something right now (such as development a particular self-care tool), so that when something negative does happen, you are ready and able to recover quickly.
I do have a formula that I use to optimize my resilience and that is called the personal growth formula. This is something that I teach in my workshops and when I work 1:1 with clients. So if you want to learn what that formula is and how to apply it in your life, you can book your free consultation using the calendar below.
As always I hope you have a great day and don’t forget to make this the #YearofYou!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.