Taking Control of Your Health: Only You Can Make You Better

Are you taking control of your health?

“You can’t change your situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it.” (Unknown)

Truth bomb time.  You cannot choose to have depression or anxiety or any other mental health condition.  If you have them, you cannot change the fact that you have them. They are inextricably a part of you, and always will be.  That is something I firmly believe.

What else do I firmly believe? You can absolutely choose how you deal with it.  

If that’s not your jam, stop reading now.  This is an important message, but you have to be ready to hear it.  You have to be at your wit’s end. You have to be tired of being surrounded by chaos and sadness and racing hearts and sleepless nights.

If you are there, then this post is for you.  I’m going to offer the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten for entering a period of stability, and feeling more like yourself again. 

Only you can make you better.

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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

Why taking control of your health is important

There are limitless reasons why you should take care of your health.  I don’t want this blog post to be a million words long, so I will only focus on the super duper important ones.  Just keep in mind: If you are reading this because you are ready to heal, you are the only person that can do that for you.

Yes, we have access to doctors and therapists and pharmacists and online retailers where we can purchase things to help.

But who has to make the doctor or therapy appointments?

Who has to decide they want to go get their prescription refilled?

Who has to decide maybe their meds aren’t doing the whole job, and they want to try to complement their treatment with something else?

Hey there.  That’s you. Only you.

As good as your support system might be, it is not their responsibility to make you better.  Moreover, it’s not even fair to them. (More on that in a bit.) They are there to love you and listen and maybe help you through the healing process, but they’re just flight attendants.  You’re the pilot.

taking control of your health, mental health, health, wellness

So, why should you focus on taking control of your health?

You only get one life

This isn’t a religious discussion, FYI.  I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s why I don’t talk about my religious beliefs on my blog, because I haven’t found it relevant yet.  But we can empirically say the following:

You only get one physical life on this planet.

Maybe you believe that after you pass on, you will be spending eternity in paradise.  If that is the case, that is a sincerely lovely thing to believe. I hope that when I die, there is a place for me somewhere.  Somewhere with constant sunshine, and free Wifi, and all my loved ones that have gone before.

But that doesn’t mean you should neglect yourself in the present.  We each have a certain amount of years on Earth. Some live to 100 years or more.  Most get 70-80 years. For some, it is woefully short.

The point is, we do not know what that number is for us.  I love to think I’m gonna go full Betty White and live to be 100, still kicking ass, but I do not know that for certain.  There is no way to know.

That’s why it is important to take that first step.  Call the doctor. Reach out to a trusted friend. Say NO to that toxic relationship. You don’t want to spend the next several decades in misery.  (Assuming everyone who reads this is in their 30s like me… I mean, 20s… )

You are affecting others

This is really hard to type so I imagine it is a little hard to hear.  But it needs to be said. When you are mentally unwell, it affects others.  Of course, you should only get well for you.  Still, it’s important to remember that your loved ones suffer in your illness too.

Mental illness is selfish.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  When I am in the throes of a bipolar episode, I think:

  • No one else has it worse than me.
  • I am alone in my suffering.
  • No one understands.

None of these things are true.  One of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my husband was painful, but was instrumental in helping me become stable.  He told me (paraphrasing): Things have to get better because it’s affecting me and the kids.

So, yes, do it for you.  But remember, when you get better, your loved ones benefit too.

You deserve more

You deserve to be better.  I know it’s easy to get caught up in our negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs.

This is all our fault.

We did this to ourselves.

And now, we deserve to live in agony.

Nope.

If you think this, I’m not casting blame on you.  You can’t control being sick. It’s a cruel game your brain is playing with you, and it’s not your fault.

So, in case you needed to hear this, YOU DESERVE MORE.

You deserve rainbows, and unicorns, and sparkles, and Henry Cavill, and comfort, and happiness.  Every last bit of it.

The world would not be the same without you.

What you can do to feel better

Now that, hopefully, you’ve decided it’s time to make a change, here are some action steps you can take.  You don’t have to do all of these things at once. And I don’t recommend that. Start with the first one and take it from there.

Set a goal

Decide what you want your ultimate goal to be with your health.  Does your depression have you bedridden, and you would love to go for daily walks? Does your anxiety keep you from spending time with loved ones for fear of leaving the house?

Pick one thing you want to focus on.  I’ll use the first one as an example. (“Does your depression have you bedridden, and you would love to go for daily walks?”)

What would you need to change to be able to meet your goal of going for daily walks?

If you are in bed all day because your motivation is so low, start with small easy to achieve steps.

  • First, each time you get up to hit the bathroom, pace around your house for 5 minutes.  You don’t have to do anything productive. Just move.
  • Once that feels easier, spend an hour or two a day sitting in a chair instead of lying in bed.  Also, continue with Step 1.
  • After a few days of that, try to nix the bed all together.  Force yourself to sit up on some other piece of furniture all day, even if you don’t do anything active, apart from the advice in step 1.
  • Once you’ve ditched the bed for a few days, step outside.  Don’t walk. Just inhale the fresh air. Sit on your patio with your favorite beverage.
  • You can probably guess what comes next, right?  Try walking for 5 minutes outside.  

There you go!  In just a couple of weeks, you are taking 5 minute walks outside.  I knew you could do it.

Call the doctor

This one can be super hard.  Speaking for myself, I get a lot of phone anxiety.  There is just something about making any kind of phone call to anyone who’s not like my mom or dad or sister that sets me on edge.

That is really common.  It’s also common to not like the finality of calling the doctor.  Picking up the phone means admitting there is something “wrong with you.”  Maybe you place a lot of blame on yourself, and calling makes it official that you need help.

That can be a scary realization for a lot of people, but really, the hardest step can be making that admission.  Just acknowledging that things need to change. It takes a huge amount of bravery, so if you have taken that step, you have more courage than you know.

I promise if you call, things can start to get better.  But only if you call.

Keep track of your symptoms

Now that you called the doctor, or even before, it might be a good idea to start keeping a diary of your symptoms.  They are likely going to ask a War and Peace amount of questions about your symptoms and behaviors in recent months.  So, record everything you can think of in the days and weeks leading up to your appointment.

  • How is your sadness on a scale of 1-10?
  • How about your fatigue?
  • What’s work been like?
  • How are your interpersonal relationships?
  • Awkward, but what’s your libido like?

They need to know as much as possible to be able to make a comprehensive assessment.  Depression and anxiety can have a lot of physical symptoms you might not even be aware of.

how to improve your emotional health, how to feel better, how to get better

Spend some time taking a hard inventory of the way you’ve been feeling.  There are a lot of benefits of journaling anyway, so this can be a good way to get started with that.

Drink lots of water and get moving 

It can take a while for any medication your doctor prescribes to take effect.  In the meantime, make sure you are taking care of your physical health, until your emotional health stabilizes.

Most sources say you should drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.  Not only will it help you feel better physically, but it can help restore some brain function that was lost in your period of instability.

“Many people claim that if you don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, your energy levels and brain function start to suffer. And there are plenty of studies to support this. One study in women showed that a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches. Other studies show that mild dehydration (1–3% of body weight) caused by exercise or heat can harm many other aspects of brain function. (Study 2, Study 3, Study 4)”

“How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day” Healthline

So, drink some water, and try to get in some activity every day.  You can follow the tapering advice I offered in a previous section.  Start slow, but make it a priority!

Don’t try to hide.

There is no need for you to hide behind a mask.  The best thing you can ever do for your mental health is live out in the open.  Not only does it help you restore some confidence, but the impact it has on others cannot be measured.

Do you remember when you first began this journey? You were likely scared, and didn’t know what to do.  Then, you saw a quote from a public figure who was speaking up about their illness, and it brought you comfort.  For me, that was Carrie Fisher. In the last years of her life, she boldly told her story whenever she could, and likely saved the lives of thousands.

Now, it’s not your responsibility to save people’s lives.  You are only responsible for your own. But your life matters, and if you live it out loud, you would be surprised at the number of people who benefit.

Need a quick and easy way to get your life sorted?

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Your life matters, so you need to get better.

Remember that.  I know it doesn’t seem that way.  I have been through more stages than I can count where I thought life was meaningless, and it would be easier for everyone if I could just fade into oblivion.

But you have no idea what you’re capable of.  You don’t know what you might be able to accomplish if you could become stable again.  What if you’re a medical professional, and you’re the one who finds a cure to a horrible illness?  What if you’re a writer, and you end up writing a book that changes the way people understand the human condition?

What do you think you could end up being or doing if you take control now? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you share this article on social media!

You will never know unless you take the first step, and learn how to feel better.


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Related posts for improving your emotional health:

5 simple ways to avoid burnout

7 types of rest- Which one is going to help you feel more emotionally well?

50 must have mental health resources

What Self Care Really Is

11 Easy Self Care Ideas

110 thoughts on “Taking Control of Your Health: Only You Can Make You Better”

  1. This is great advice on taking control of your health. So many people are busy taking care of others, they forget about themselves. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I had the worst muscle and nerve pain that lasted for almost 3 years. It affected my finance and mental health. I agree with you, things will get better if you you choose to deal with it.

    1. Well, hopefully you are better now! I dealt with sciatica for a long time. Chronic pain is tough. Thanks for reading!

  3. It’s interesting that right now most of the emails I get end with, stay safe, stay healthy instead of the old salutations, like best regards. Everyone is much more aware of the gift of good health.

  4. I’m so grateful that more medical professionals and therapists seem to understand how serious anxiety and depression can be now. I know several people who were able to get the help they needed and it has made such a huge difference in their lives!

  5. Barbara Ritzman

    Love this…You can’t change your situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it. I always say you have to learn to deal with the cards you are dealt. Will never change my thought on that and donot deflect. Life is to short

  6. I am happy that more light is being shed on mental health. It’s just as important to nurture as our physical health. You have some great tips here to really help get over the hurdles during bad times. I like how you offer them in steps. That way, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming!

  7. This is wonderful, sound advice—especially for parents who have to take care of and raise kiddos. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of our little ones.

  8. These are all wonderful tips for taking control of your health. It’s so easy to let certain things slide. Thanks for the reminders. Have a great weekend!

    1. It’s very easy. I am guilty of it myself sometimes. We just have to keep moving forward and be willing to change. Thanks for reading!

  9. Thanks for highlighting the importance of recognising the symptoms and taking the first steps. Strengthening our mental fitness is as important as our physical fitness. My own tools include yoga, meditation and journaling. They’re not easy practices to get into but sometimes it just begins with taking 5 minutes to say or write what we’re grateful for. Bravo for sharing.

    1. That’s so great! I would love to give yoga a try but never know where to start. It seems intimidating! Thanks so much for reading.

  10. Since so many of us have extra time on our hands right now it is really a good time for self care and considering both our mental and physical health.

  11. I love how the steps to just getting up and going outside for a short walk build into each other. Simple and easy, and that breath of fresh air always makes me smile. 🙂

  12. I love this post! So important to take control of your health and make it a goal to do so. Like you said, we only have one life and it does matter! I am trying to get back on track too. It is so hard with all that is going on right now! But I do feel much better when I am actively aware of my health and trying to improve it.

  13. I try hard to stay healthy! It’s why I jog daily and work hard to drink plenty of water. I know my diet isn’t the best: I like my junk food but I try not to have too much of it daily!

  14. “Yes, we have access to doctors and therapists and pharmacists and online retailers where we can purchase things to help.”

    Truthfully, not everyone has easy access to these things. If you’re very low-income or don’t have health insurance (which is a financial nightmare of its own) it can be very hard to access critical health services. That’s why I think advocating for affordable care for everyone is another step we can all take to make sure we’re all able to access the tool and services we need to be our healthiest selves!

    1. That is a very very good point! Thank you for clarifying. They exist, but it can be hard for people to use them as needed at time. Still, there is that important first step of motivation to change. Thanks for reading!

  15. Such a great post. I agree that you need to be ready. Some time ago I saw my world start to crumble and I recommend most of these tips. It started 1st with gratitude and than exercise. Recovery was slow but with tine family life bloomed once more. I personally think journaling is so healing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you’ve found some things that are effective for you. Stick with it, and take care.

  16. This is very true. Until we realize that we have the power to help ourselves and do better, we’d keep being subjected to events that hold our joy hostage. These are really great tips. I am definitely going to try them out. Thank you so much for taking time out to write them.

  17. Wonderful post! This is a real wakeup call. I’ve been doing an okay job of taking care of myself mentally: making sure I exercise, drink water, and sleep as much as possible during the epidemic. But there’s a lot more I need to do, and I KNOW I need to actually do it. My anxiety has been really bad lately, and I know I need to buckle down and do something about it. As you said, I’d be doing right by myself. Thanks for this.

  18. I think it is appropriate that your post wants people through how to recover from negative patterns by meeting them where they are, even if that starting place is a bed. I have not personally struggled this way, but know friends who have and believe this approach of providing empowerment will be beneficial.

  19. I totally loved how clear the solutions are presented here and those little reminders are the saviors. I bookmarked this one to come again time after time to remind myself that I deserve being mentally healthy. Thank you so much for providing so much value.

  20. Straight to the point, many points. Great post full of solutions. Often, I find myself not owning it, you know what I mean? And it all starts there. Gonna read it again. Thank you.

  21. Very comprehensive. I particularly like the idea of setting goals around your mental health. Although I set myself goals all the time, I don’t know that I’ve specifically done this in relation to things I’d (still) like to overcome in relation to my anxiety. Definitely food for thought!

    1. For me, it’s trying to stay up later at night. Usually i succumb to my anxiety by going to sleep.

      Thanks for reading!

  22. “You deserve rainbows, and unicorns, and sparkles, and Henry Cavill, and comfort, and happiness.”

    I love this! I love your writing. Thank you for this.

  23. Such a solid article and a great reminder for us all. I love how blunt you are on this topic because sometimes, the truth just needs to be said and heard out loud. And those little progressive steps really do turn into big positive changes if we let them!

    1. Thanks so much! I have had to hear a lot of hard truths about my own health over the years. It can sting, but it really can help.

  24. This is a great post. Any changes have to start from within in order to last. I know that exercise or being outside helps my mood, so this year I’ve gotten serious about a workout plan. I’m taking control of my physical health and wellbeing. Thanks for sharing. Your blog is a great resource.

  25. This is great and there are so many truths. Being outside or exercising helps to put me in a better head space mentally. Or sometime if it’s my kids or family that’s overwhelming me, having quiet moments to myself to decompress are the best!

  26. It is SO important to know our own bodies, know what’s ‘normal’ for us and listen to it when it’s trying to tell us something… I was 24 when I went into the hospital to complain about something being wrong with my abdominal pain. I was told I just don’t realize ‘that’s normal for women’ and saw 5 different doctors before someone would run a test for me. What did the test find? Ovarian cancer…. if I hadn’t listened to my body and if that doctor hadn’t listened to me, I likely wouldn’t be here today. Know one knows your ‘normal’ better than you.

  27. Great piece of content, and very enjoyable to read. Being someone who is sometimes “challenged” with issues that like to manifest in my head, I can relate to a LOT of what you shared…boy can I!

    Looking forward to reading more soon!

    M

  28. Exercise and water intake can play a huge part in one’s mood. Yet, it is one of those things that we know we should do but actually getting it done can be a challenge. But once you get in a routine I’ve found it to be a little easier.

    1. Yeah, that’s the hard part! We know we need to do it, but don’t for whatever reason. Getting the routine back is a must! Thanks for reading.

  29. I completely agree with you! People can help by listening or nudging you in the right direction, but at the end of the day you actively have to make the choice to fight back and get help or not, but not everyone likes to hear that (hopefully its just a case of not being ready for them)

  30. These tips can apply to anybody with ANY condition. Thank you for laying it all out. I can really appreciate what you’re saying here.

  31. Thank you for this post. As someone who has a family member with a mental illness, this is tremendously helpful. Taking control of your health is something that you can’t ever do to much of!

  32. “You can’t change your situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it.”

    This falls right in line with self awareness, which I talk a lot about when helping moms overcome stress and rebalancing their lives.

    Thanks so much for these wonderful tips! I’m glad you’ve placed due focus on moms and their mental health.

  33. These last 18 months showed me that taking it seriously – with all the set backs, but getting back up again – is the only way to go. It’s not a straight line – more like trying to climb a mountain. Up and down.

  34. Thank you for the tips and shedding some light on this! Great knowledge as I am on that journey of being more aware and learning my body so I can take care of it better!

  35. This is so helpful! I work as a care coordinator for an insurance company and I see a lot of people who have issues with their health because of their lifestyle. I want to show them this! Thank you!

  36. I always put off going to the doctor when I know I shouldn’t. I’ve also been feeling ill recently. I needed to take some time to take it easy but now I’m working on a balance. Pushing myself to do what I can whilst being kind to myself

    1. Yeah being kind is good. It’s definitely necessary. The only danger there is being so kind that you don’t take action. Thanks as always for reading!

    1. Thank you! I appreciate it. I think that’s a quote from The Princess Bride- “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” But I could be wrong. Feel free to share.

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