How to be your own therapist
Feeling stressed or emotionally exhausted? Do you find yourself yearning for someone to offer you support and guidance? Well, I, of course, believe that psychologists can make a profound difference in people’s lives. But ultimately, the person that can offer you the best, most consistent support is you. After all, you are the only one who is with you 24/7.
Even well-intentioned family or friends will disappoint or let you down at some point, because that is just human nature and no one is perfect. So, the ability to be your own therapist can be helpful. What exactly does that mean though?
Well, it basically means that you need to be your own best friend. It means being more compassionate toward yourself. You take charge of yourself and commit to self-care. Maybe you start to face up to challenges rather than running away from them.
Sometimes it may mean purposely blocking out bothersome external things that you have no control over. For instance, you may need to reduce the amount of time you spend watching the news. You may want to turn off your phone for a while or limit your time on social media. Setting boundaries with friends and family is important, too. This is not always easy to do, of course, but if they really care about you, they will understand that you need time for self-care.
Mindful breathing, or breathing slowly and with awareness, is also a vital self-care tool. It helps you to be centered in the present moment.
Because we lead busy lives, people often find life’s demands are taking over them. That results in a feeling that we aren’t in control of our lives. But if you can commit to carving out a couple minutes in the morning to write down your priorities, you will be more likely to accomplish what you want by the end of the day. Then each evening, reflect on how you did. Were you able to accomplish what you set out to? If so, pat yourself on the back! And if you weren’t able to accomplish it, then instead of negative self-talk, analyze what got in the way.
Following a routine can also be helpful because it is predictable and creates order in your life. If things are predictable, you can cope with life better; you are less likely to feel overwhelmed or stressed. A routine of walking your dog each night or taking a few minutes to do stretches before your morning shower can give you a sense of control. You may find yourself looking forward to those precious few minutes.
And sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t always go well. Accept that it is okay to not feel okay. Purposely trying to push away negative feelings just doesn’t work that well, especially when you are harshly judging yourself for feeling that way. If you unrealistically expect something to be different but you cannot change it, then you are just setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Instead, remind yourself that those feelings are a temporary part of you and will pass in time because no feeling is permanent, no matter how painful it may be. When you are feeling down, that is the time to intensify your commitment to self-care and nurturing yourself.