A little over two years ago, I stepped into my therapist’s office for the first time.
I had always considered therapy as something I might do…one day. And that one day made itself known with a pretty brutal panic attack on a not-so-remarkable weekday after work. That’s when I knew I needed to talk to someone.
Since that first meeting, my therapist has shared wisdom and advice and unbiased thoughts that have helped me see my experiences with a bit more clarity, and a little less anxiety.
But there’s one statement she made that has stayed with me every day since. While discussing my relationship history and how it impacts my current relationship, she said, “Your brain is so used to catastrophizing that you automatically go to the worst-case scenario, even when there’s nothing happening to support that.”
That one sentence opened up a whole new way for me to see how I show up with my partner. It was the start of me learning that just because I can think of a hundred different ways that my relationship could explode doesn’t mean that any of those are going to happen or that they’re happening in this particular moment, which is the only moment that ever matters.
While knowing this doesn’t mean everything is fixed or easy, it does help me bring awareness to my experiences. And that’s the first step to improving our mental health.
If you’re tired of the tried-and-true mental health tips—breathe, start a gratitude journal, just let go—try these unconventional (but just as helpful) ones from Elephant readers:
1. “When dealing with negative thoughts/rumination, ask yourself two questions: Who told you that and what else is possible?” ~ Jake
2. “‘Stop swallowing your words.’ Told this by my mother, who knew I wasn’t speaking up for myself.” ~ LouAnn
3. “This advice was given to me when my husband unexpectedly died; it has helped me immensely when my mind starts to spiral: you only need to live one hour at a time (one day at a time is too long and less than an hour is too small).” ~ Kimberly
4. “Life is hard, join a support group.” ~ Guy
5. “‘Only one crazy person in the room at a time. Make sure it’s not you,’ said by my dad.” ~ Jessie
6. “No one gets a prize at the end of their life for how much they suffered. Do what you need to do to help and heal yourself.” ~ Meaghan
7. “Face your stuff; don’t stuff your face!” ~ James
8. “‘Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes.’
Just read this somewhere and realized it’s somehow true.” ~ Ranie
9. “Take it, but don’t take it personally.” ~ Eddie
10. “Open all the cabinets in your kitchen. Now close them all. It’s your choice what cabinet doors you choose to open for people. No one knows what is going on in your life unless you choose to open the doors. Most people see your life looks perfect because all the doors are closed.” ~ Tina
11. “What does the floor feel like against your feet? Listen to the quietest sound around you or the birds outside. And try counting.” ~ Jessica
12. “Normal is a dryer setting.” ~ Tammy