Psychotherapy can be an extremely helpful way to improve yourself and your relationships. However, I like to caution that coming to regular therapy sessions is just a PART of the healing process.
If you are going into therapy you can make the most of the process by adding these practices to your life. If you aren’t in therapy, these efforts can certainly help:
- Reflect between therapy sessions on what you learn and experience. A regular journaling practice can help deepen your insight. Become your own inner teacher by journaling about your ideas, dreams, feelings, and experiences. Journaling immediately after therapy is great!
- Learn to observe your thoughts and feelings through mindfulness. Read my handout on “Developing a Meditation Practice.”
- Make healthy lifestyle choices — get enough sleep on a regular cycle, eat well, exercise, practice yoga, avoid addictive behaviors. Daily exercise, especially walking in nature, reduces anxiety and depression.
- Take a good multivitamin with minerals. A blog on Mad in America notes:“Vitamins and minerals are well established as cofactors essential for the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters. Furthermore, the link between insomnia and stress is well-established, and vitamin and minerals are intricately involved in the regulation of the stress response. Micronutrients may result in reductions in stress…”
- Clear the mind, slow down, de-stress, simplify. Consider the phrase: “Cultivate Stillness” and think how you could implement that in your life.
- Share with psychologically aware friends in an emotionally open and reflective way.
- Read philosophers, thinkers, poets and self-help books, then journal and meditate about what you learn.
- Live consciously, not reactively.
- Grow healthy friendships; shed unhealthy relationships.
- Be compassionate toward yourself and others; consider the motives and needs of others when judging their behavior.
- Live in a way that reduces shame, that is — behave in ways that are moral, ethical, responsible, conscientious, and caring.
- Give to others in a truly selfless way without need for self-aggrandizement.
- Practice personal accountability.
- Practice gratitude. Consider things you are grateful for on a daily basis, perhaps at the end of meditation, when journaling, or when praying.
- Be authentic. What are you trying to hide? Are you protecting “flawed” parts of yourself by avoiding vulnerability? What would it be like to experience less shame?
- Discuss any of these experiences with your therapist so they can be integrated into therapy.
This may all sound like hard work — but what better “project” can there be than becoming the BEST “YOU” you can be? Good luck on your journey!
…be kind to yourself