With more mental health awareness and popularised knowledge of psychological facts, the push for therapy has been booming. This is great for therapists, like myself, and the recipients of its benefits, but it isn’t always appropriate or accessible for everyone.
While therapy is a great tool for self-development, personalised support and mental health recovery, it isn’t a holy grail, nor is it the ONLY type of help available when people look for wellbeing improvements. In fact, it’s one of many instruments and requires a lot of surrounding circumstances to align to be its most effective.
Here are things we should be doing with or without therapy to enhance our healing:
Reading books about people with similar issues to us. When we read, we are able to relate to characters empathetically. If these characters are like us in their predicament, we can practice the compassion we have for them, on ourselves. It also gives us perspective to know we are not isolated in our issues.
Read books about your issue, written by professionals. This helps us to view our issues a objectively and pragmatically, as problems that have been long-standing in humanity, and not issues unique to us. It also helps us to understand several ways to approach it, it normalises our responses and experiences and it shows us a way out.
Exercise, stretching and improved diet. This may sound basic but working up a sweat and moving the body mindfully can help with things like emotional regulation, sexual trauma, body dysmorphia, stress, poor body image and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Healthy lifestyle choices are hormone-balancing, and hormones massively influence our emotions.
Joining forums and groups around a common issue. Talking to people about that have firsthand experience with your issues and are at various stages of their journey, has proven benefits. Catharsis, empathy and giving/receiving informed advice are really helpful tools. Group therapeutic sessions can help us to extensively understand our issue while giving us both professional and peer support.
Meditation. Learning to calm your mind, soothe your emotions and distance yourself from thoughts can greatly improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, worry, stress and burn out. It’s a great skill to develop.
Journaling. Externalising your stressors supports you to self-actualise via understanding your own emotions and thoughts.
Medication. While this may be a controversial topic, mental health medication can often help to kickstart a healing journey by reducing debilitating symptoms that make it difficult to otherwise function. Please only take this under prescription and monitoring by a doctor.
Changing your environment. This helps to fuel creative thinking. When we are in a different setting we think about things differently, we gain perspective, minimise our problems and feel more motivated to face our struggles. It is also a great stress reliever.
Taking a break. Ask for help. Book time off. Turn off those notifications. Delegate duty. Rest. Clear your mind. Laugh. Whatever it is, let yourself breathe!
Talk with friends. Spend some time socialising. Let people know what you are experiencing and how they can help. Even if they cannot help, sharing can be emotionally enriching in and of itself. Let people see the real you, instead of masking: warts and all! Low moods can cause isolation, so even just the act of spending time with friends WITHOUT necessarily opening up about your issues can be helpful to stimulate your mind and reduce rumination.
Incorporating some of these things (as necessary) into our lives is very important to develop and maintain our emotional wellbeing. In fact, without some of these things, even therapy is limited in the benefits it can offer.
Approaching healing journeys as lifestyle choices as opposed to a quick-fix to be outsourced to therapists can be liberating and empowering, and while therapy is good, it is a limited conversation every 1-2 weeks, what happens outside of therapy is FAR more important!
Check out our workshops for any group support, such as our free monthly grief forum and other wellbeing workshops/courses if these appeal to you.
If you DO want therapy, then you can book a consultation with me here.
If you found this blog post to be informative, please like and share!