Mindfulness Monday: What To Do If You Can’t Afford Therapy
There isn’t quite anything like confronting your traumas and emotional baggage in a therapy session that leaves you feeling breathless, red nosed but feeling lighter and heavier at the same time. Nothing quite like realising that you’ve been carrying a very heavy weight for what seems like forever. Unfortunately, therapy doesn’t come cheap nor is it available to 95% of our population. One therapy session in Pakistan can range anywhere between Rs. 3000 to Rs. 10,000. And forget about the absolute struggle of finding a therapist that works for you and suits your needs. Not to mention the nightmare that are social taboos attached to seeking help. Listed below are a few practices you can do yourself to help take the edge off.
- Introspection: In order to get to the root of the problem, you have to observe and examine your mental and emotional processes. Approach yourself as a friend, a kindred spirit you can talk to. It’s hard to like yourself, sometimes let alone love yourself, so try to be as gentle as possible. Never push yourself to ‘heal’ faster. It takes time and patience. Cultivate a space for yourself to feel however you want, be it a positive feeling or a negative one. One technique is journaling where you write down all that you’re feeling or thinking. Write down all that’s coming to you (train of thought style). If you hate the idea of journaling, make lists where you jot down words or phrases that capture your emotions. The idea is to give yourself time to sit with your emotions and knowing that there is nothing wrong in doing so.
- Meditation: This is a practice for everybody should they choose to do it. In therapy, distressed people are often advised to meditate or practice breathing exercises because the physical act of calming down can positively impact mental health. Meditation can go on for however long you need to. In this day and age, there are apps that can help you meditate or tutorial videos on YouTube that you can access for free.
- Rest & Relaxation: Set aside a few hours everyday to get away from the noise of the world i.e. social media. Sensory overload is a lot more common nowadays than you’d think. Shut off all your screens and do something that you enjoy doing. Watch a movie. Talk a walk. Finger paint. Read. Dance. Immerse yourself in those childhood activities that you thought you had grown up from. Go back to being that carefree child.
- Take care of yourself: Easier said than done, but it works wonders. Exercise! I’m not talking about strenuous HIIT workouts (go for it, if that’s your thing). Taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts. Dancing in the shower counts. Walking the dog counts. And be mindful of what you put in your body. Incorporate and maintain a healthy diet. Start small, like eating one fruit everyday, or introducing an herbal tea at bedtime. Try to sleep at least 8 hours every night. Try a white noise app that lets you relax: fall asleep to the sound of a waterfall or raindrops on a tin roof (perhaps a sound that produces a happy or comforting memory for you). Taking care of yourself is no small feat, but starting small and maintaining these practices can lead to long term results. No achievement is too small for you to celebrate it.
- Be gentle with yourself: I cannot stress this word enough. The world is cruel enough, there’s no need for you to be. Allow yourself to feel things, don’t suppress them. Give yourself the space to be you, however you are. Do not let other people decide what, when or how you can feel. Treat yourself gently and kindly, because you spend the most time with yourself. Perhaps start with a friend or a person you trust to be a good listener, and allow yourself to be heard. The most difficult part of therapy is realising the only thing holding you back is yourself, your fears, your anxieties of how you are being perceived. Put all of that aside and concentrate on your emotions and thoughts. Get past that self-inflicted hurdle as slowly and as gently as you can.
Therapy offers a space for you to feel and express what you often hold back in your day to day life. Why not allow that space yourself?