3 Lessons I Learned From Personal Therapy That Tremendously Improved My Mental Health ?

October is National Mental Health Month!

How are you doing?

Like seriously, how are you feeling? Can you label your emotions?

One good thing we got out of the pandemic is that mental health is destigmatised (somehow), with everything going online with more flexibility and convenience.

Today I revealed the three biggest lessons I learned in my own 10-month therapy journey – with complete honesty and tips. I believe that it is a strength to talk about what happened, and show how others can improve their mental health as well.

Why Did I go to Therapy 👩🏻‍⚕️

There’s something guaranteed in life: change is the only constant.

Nothing lasts forever.

That means we are bound to experience sadness, grief, and uncertainties.

I went through some tough sh*ts in 2019 and did not seek help until late 2020 (you can read more about that here). At first I was so paranoid and I could not trust anyone. And then pandemic hit and there was a long waiting list in the psychology clinic which further delayed treatment.

But I’m so glad that I’ve done it.

I have learned, and unlearned a lot about myself. More importantly, I have HOPE. I have strategies to manage my emotions when things don’t go well.

Keep reading for the best lessons I learned, or watch my video here:

The Importance of Self-awareness 🪞

There is no self-development without self-awareness.

If we operate on auto-pilot every single day, how can we expect clarity and direction in life?

We must question everything that we do, and interrogate our thoughts constantly.

Why do we do what we do? Where does that habit come from? Why are we sometimes agitated, annoyed and angry? What serves us and what doesn’t?

Before therapy I already had a pretty solid journaling habit in place, but therapy took it to the next level.

In cognitive behavioural therapy, we look at how our thoughts, emotions and behaviours are all related and how changing one aspect can change the loop.

Thought record is a useful exercise to get started with being more self-aware. Here’s a pdf for you: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/ThoughtRecordSheet7.pdf

Soon enough, you will start spotting patterns in life. My typical patterns and triggers include:

  • Feeling annoyed and a bit hopeless if I read news first thing in the morning
  • Making bad decisions when I don’t have good quality sleep
  • Getting distracted easily when I don’t set clear goals the night before

These are valuable insights. You then know what to work on. You know what is good for you. From there, you can start building healthy habits that help you achieve your goals and regulate your emotions.

Grounding Techniques and Coping Strategies 📍

Here are a couple of grounding techniques I tried (with verdicts below). These are useful toolkits for you to regulate your emotions in times of distress and chaos. Take whatever you like and utilise them.

5-4-3-2-1 Mindfulness Technique

I personally quite like this one. The idea is simple: we have depression or anxiety because we are often caught up in our head – either living in the past or worrying about the future. So, the quickest way to change is to refocus on the present moment – by using our five senses.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a technique to use when you are stressed and worried. According to this website, progressive muscle relaxation only requires 10 to 20 minutes per day to practise.

What you want to do is to contract one muscle group (for example, your fists) for five to 10 seconds, then exhale and suddenly release the tension. Then relax for 10 to 20 seconds before contract the next muscle group (can be from head to toe or vice versa).

I personally don’t fancy this one since I found the sensation weird. But do give it a try and see if it works for you.


I did not believe in meditation before. But then as an overthinker, there were times I felt so restless and agitated so I decided to give meditation a try. I tried most free meditation apps. Headspace, Smiling Mind, Insight Timer… now I mostly stick to Centr because I’m a member. But it’s super helpful and enjoyable.

You don’t need to overthink or stereotype it. It’s not about doing a digital detox or hiding in forests and thinking of nothing.

You just need to UNPLUG.


Disengage from the everyday busy-ness.

Decision-making (Pros and cons analysis) 🤔

Once you are more self-aware and self-regulated, you have a clearer headspace to make changes and find your direction.

We often make decisions based on feelings. When we are stressed, we go shopping and we binge eat. When we are sad, we might want to rely on instant reliefs. That’s why it’s important we have a good strong foundation in order to go after the life we want.

This is the decision-making exercise I did with my therapist:

  1. State your situation
  2. Lay out all the options, regardless of possibilities
  3. Write possible outcomes of all the options
  4. Rate each options of advantage, disadvantage
  5. Rate how likely you would do that, and whether your “guts” tell you to proceed or not
  6. Pick the option that is the most sensible

Most of the time you already had the answer in your mind, and your therapist is merely guiding you by laying all your options visually in front of you.

This applies to everything you want to decide on: pivoting your career, letting go of a relationship, relocating to a new country… once you made the decision using this pros and cons analysis, you don’t have to look back and doubt what you’ve done because you’ve made a “good enough” decision. There is no point dwelling with the “what-ifs”. This effectively cures my overthinking problems.

Other prompts that would help you make better decisions I have used over the years:

  1. What’s the worst case scenario?
  2. Is it life-or-death situation?
  3. What can I do now to minimise the negative impact?
  4. What is the plan to get closer to what I want?
  5. What habits and skills do I need to have?

Takeaway 🛍

Therapy is helpful. It should not be a taboo topic anymore. In fact, we should talk more about mental health. It would have saved many lives.

Is there anything you want to know about attending a therapy session? Feel free to DM me on Instagram @hangoutwithv to chat x



Extended reading: 5 surprising things I wish I knew about personal growth when I was 20 

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