A few years back, I decided therapy wasn’t for me anymore. My main rebuttal against it was that I felt I knew what they’d say, the exercises they would ask me to do. However I was still in a pretty poor place mentally, so I made a pact with myself and the people around me, that if I wasn’t going to go to therapy, I would learn how to utilise self healing and do the work myself.
I would love to say from that day forwards I was healed and who needs a dang therapist anyway, but.. that’s not quite how it went. Big surprise, therapists train for years and are actually better at their job than someone with no training!
However, I was determined to make it work, part stubbornness part noble intention I suppose. Although self healing is important, I’m not sure I would actually advise simply quitting therapy in favour of it. However that’s what I did and I’ve learned a lot of simple (and not so simple) tips along the way, so I’m here to share.
*I am in no way a mental health professional, please don’t dump your therapist on account of this post*
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Now that I have those disclaimers out of the way, here’s 5 tips on how to self heal:
1. Take your own advice
I see you. Always there with the perfect words for a friend in distress, sharing great advice and support. Now turn it back on yourself.
I was the worst for this. It became kind of a running joke that my best friend and I would give each other fantastic advice but simply refuse to listen to our own advice. The most ridiculous part, is that we would give each other the same advice.
Yet the idea of taking my own advice sounded absurd, despite it sounding perfectly reasonable and well meaning coming from her.
Don’t be a hypocrite. If your friend is worth giving that advice to, so are you. If you can hear it from a friend, you can hear it from yourself. Welcome to the start of how uncomfortable self healing can be!
2. Implement what you’ve learned
My biggest argument against therapy was that I felt I had heard it all before and knew all the exercises they would give me. I felt these exercises were useless, because I’d never bloody done most of them.
In my deal with myself, I made a commitment that if I wasn’t going to see someone to force me to do them then I was going to do them of my own accord.
I dragged my feet on this, big time. But I’d already been humbled by the fact that therapists actually know what they’re talking about so I vowed to incorporate their exercises and tips. (This is starting to feel a lot like advice on how I should have just gone back to therapy but oh well. Who doesn’t love the hard way?)
3. Know yourself
Learning how to self heal means you must know your mental health and be able to recognise the signs that something isn’t right. These will look different for everyone, but there’s some pretty universal signs of mental health sliding. Your job is to know what your signs are.
The best way to keep tabs on where you are, is to get comfortable with journaling. I’ve spoken before about how I hated the idea of journaling, how it felt yucky and vulnerable.
However one of the key bonuses of therapy, is that someone has some idea of how you’re travelling mentally. Without that, it’s up to you to keep tabs on yourself, and journaling really is the best way.
Journaling doesn’t have to be a huge operation. It can be a simple daily scribble in a notebook you have laying round, just something that keeps you accountable to how you are really doing day to day.
In fact I created a 2 page daily check in specifically for that purpose. Subscribing to my email list will give you free access to it.
However if you’re like me and need something a bit more structured and comprehensive, check out these beauties from Blessing Manifesting. I only recently got over my irrational fear of journaling, but I’ve already picked up their anxiety workbook and mental health self care planner, and couldn’t recommend them more.
They’re intimidating at over 100 pages each, so if you’re not ready for that much of a deep dive, you can find hundreds of cute, cheap journals here on Amazon. Whichever way you choose to go, give it a go!
4. Talk to someone
*Record scratch* wasn’t this whole post about avoiding talking to someone? Well no, this post was about an irrational fear of therapists and a stubborn desire to be fine on my own but I digress.
Like one of my favourite Keith Urban songs, everybody needs somebody sometimes.
Whether it’s calling up your mate for a cry at random things, or turning to family member for a shoulder or an ear, do it. Learning how to self heal doesn’t mean you have to do everything 100% alone 100% of the time.
5. Learn to self reflect
In all seriousness, this is probably the most important part. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable and it is entirely necessary. Self reflection will help you address negative thoughts, identify self destructive behaviours and process your emotions.
Honest self reflection can also help you identify depression slumps which is key to getting on top of them.
How do I recommend you self reflect? You guessed it, journaling. Just give it a try. Seriously, it’s more helpful than you think.
Honest self reflection also means knowing your limits, and knowing when to seek professional help.
Final thoughts on self healing
Learning how to self heal is hard, but it’s also incredibly powerful when you do it properly. No, you can’t ditch therapy, go off your meds, do nothing and pretend it’s self healing. Avoidance is not self healing!
It’s important not to discredit the power of professional help. Learning how to self heal is working for me because therapy gave me the starting block and the tools I needed to do it. That doesn’t mean I won’t go back to therapy in the future, or think it’s pointless. In fact I think wherever possible, professional help should be the starting point.
My biggest piece of advice? Be prepared for it to be slow going. Be prepared for bad days. I probably could have made progress much quicker if I was still seeing someone, but at the same time, I’ve found a lot of value in answering to myself.
If you’re just embarking on this journey, be patient and be kind, you got this!
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