Therapists Aren't Cheap. Tips For Self-Care When Therapy Isn't an Option
It's important that we have friends and/or family in our lives willing to lend an ear during tough times. However, sometimes we need more help than our friends or family are able to provide. Seeing a therapist can be a great resource for navigating those times. I've benefited from therapy in the past, and have encouraged countless friends to give therapy a try at some point in their lives, whether they think they "need it" or not.
That being said, therapy can be expensive. Even with health insurance the cost of therapy can be more than some people can afford. So, what do you do when you could use a professional to talk to but can't afford it?
Megan Bruneau at Thrillist writes a piece about ways to cheer up when therapy isn't an option. Here's a breakdown.
Stop being an asshole to yourself
Are you your own worst critic? If so, that becomes even more problematic when life gets rough. Why? Because when you're your own worst critic your propensity for self-criticsm magnifies during rough patches.
Why can't I do this?
I shouldn't care.
I should be happier.
I need to just snap out of this.
The only thing to consider snapping out of is being an ass to yourself.
Although your current situation may be outside of your control, the way that you treat yourself is within your control. Rather than being overly critical of yourself, consider how you would treat a friend or family member going through the same thing. Give yourself the same level of compassion and patience you would give them.
Don't try to avoid thinking about what's bothering you. Although overthinking things can become a problem, not thinking about it at all can rob you of the self-reflection that might be pivotal to a breakthrough.
Do you have a hobby or other creative outlet? If so...dive into it. Immersing yourself in a favorite pastime can be a mental reprieve from whatever it is that has you down. It is also a good way to avoid overthinking, giving you dedicated time to focus on something else.
Don't have a hobby or creative outlet you can employ? Find one. Grab an adult coloring book, some crayons, and get to coloring. Take a free art class. Start learning how to play an instrument. Having some sort of hobby or creative outlet to focus on will benefit you in the long run.
What areas of your life are pretty good?
When life has you down it's common to only see the things that are bad, and forget about the things that are good. Although remembering the positive things in your life isn't always a cure for down times, it can remind you of things that you can be thankful for. Grab a pen and paper and start journaling. The topic? Things to be grateful for today. Don't worry about needing to come up with something profound. It could be something as simple as "I made it through the day" or "I laughed at least once".
Speaking of laughter, find something to laugh at. Watch a funny movie. Get together with a hilarious friend. Listen to a comedy routine. Watch fail videos on the interwebs. There are many benefits to laughter, so find something worth laughing about.
Coping mechanisms matter
Most of us have things we like to do when we're down. Some of those things are healthy, and some of those things are not healthy. Although ideally we deal with life's struggles in a healthy manner, having some sort of coping mechanism is usually better than having none at all. An exception to this is if your coping mechanism involves an unhealthy activity that negatively impacts your overall wellbeing (e.g. excessive drinking, drugs, unsafe practices), or if it leaves you feeling ashamed, guilty or unhappier.
If you're not happy with your traditional ways of coping, find new ones. Creative outlets, are excellent fillers for those times when life just sucks.
Surround yourself with people who make you happy
It's common to want to isolate yourself when you're down or life is just generally rough. However, isolating yourself is typically a bad idea. We're social creatures, and that goes for introverts as well. Human interaction creates connection and a sense of safety, things that become more important during times of emotional upheaval. This doesn't mean that you need to fill every day with social outings, but consider getting out and about, connecting with a friend over dinner, or going for a walk with someone you enjoy spending time with.
Pay attention to what you consume
What you eat, what you listen to, what you watch all have an impact on your emotional wellbeing. Being mindful about these things becomes even more important during the down times. Pay attention to what you consume.
When nothing is working..
Sometimes no matter what you do, nothing seems to lift your spirits. When that is the case, do some research to see if there are free or low cost therapy options you can explore. Many graduate psychology and therapy programs offer free or subsidized options. See if there are any community centers in your area that offer low cost therapy. Support groups can also be a great way to connect with others going through similar situations.