by: Eric M. Kussin

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20 October 2018

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Outsmarting Our Mental Health

Been reflecting a lot about what hasn’t worked for me (even more so than what has), so that I can avoid negative habits that have proven counterproductive.
 
Our tendency when we get in a jam is to outthink the jam. For me, here’s how it went for so long w my MH: “I feel like I need to keep sleeping more. Sleep is a healer…you can’t have too much of it. When I was a kid & got sick, I slept it off. It would stand to reason if I keep sleeping, I’ll eventually get well.”
 
Years in a bed later, I realized how wrong I was. I was always trying to outthink the symptoms. If my memory felt shot, I’d try to write things down on paper to test myself & see if I was as blank as I thought I was. All that happened was my anxiety would get worse, the more I realized how much of my past I didn’t have access to at that moment.
 
You can’t outthink your MH, but you can outsmart it. This often means doing the opposite of what you FEEL like doing. Back to the example above, now when I sleep 7- 8 hours & I still wake up tired, I do the OPPOSITE of what my body/mind is telling me to do – I get up & go for a jog. Or I sit up & do breathing practices or qigong (even tho my head wants me on the pillow like a rock). When I can’t remember something, instead of bugging, I say to myself: “Big deal…it’s in there…it’ll eventually come back.”
 
When @danielcarcillo13 was set to come to @northern_illinois_university & @loyolaramblers he said his mind/body told him not to get up…not to go talk to “those ppl.” But he did, & he had a great time, & it was actually therapeutic for him.
 
I’m not advocating that the person who literally can’t get out of bed at the moment needs to be forced by others. However, I am saying, w whatever abilities you do have, push yourself to outsmart your MH when it lies to you about what you need. The habits & neural pathways you build will thank you. Please don’t waste the time I did, waiting for rest to be a healer. Outsmarting MH means outworking it in the right way. You do have control!

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