Starting therapy is an incredible step toward understanding and nurturing your mental health. The work you do in therapy shows a commitment to your well-being, health and growth. But what about when you leave the therapy room?
Between sessions, you gain the opportunity to apply the skills and insights you’ve learned. This can be challenging, so integrating self care strategies into your daily life becomes an important part of your therapy journey. Here are strategies to help you navigate and reinforce your mental health outside of therapy sessions.
Create Supportive Routines
Creating a predictable daily routine can provide a sense of stability and security. Structure helps to anchor you, reducing the number of decisions you need to make throughout the day, which can be particularly helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Try to wake up, eat and go to bed at the same times each day.
Engaging in Reflective Journaling
Journaling is a powerful tool for self-discovery and emotional processing. It can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, understand patterns in your behavior and provide a non-judgmental space to vent frustrations. Aim for consistency rather than perfection, and remember that your journal is for your eyes only. Journaling can also help inform what you’d like to bring into your next in-person therapy session.
Use Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques
Mindfulness practices can aid in anchoring you to the present moment, which can be particularly helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. Techniques such as focused breathing, sensory grounding exercises or even mindful walking can interrupt spirals of negative thoughts and ground you in the here and now. Find a few techniques to get you started here.
Move Your Body Within Your Means
Exercise is a proven mood booster, but it’s important to choose physical activities that you genuinely enjoy and can realistically integrate into your life. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a dance class, chair yoga or stretching exercises, regular movement can enhance your mood and reduce stress.
Make Space for Joy and Gratitude
Whether it’s creative expression, a nature walk or enjoying your favorite tea, carve out moments where you can experience joy without guilt or reservation. Consider maintaining a gratitude journal, where you can reflect on and write down daily occurrences that you’re thankful for, no matter how small. This practice helps to build a reservoir of psychological resilience and teaches your brain to anticipate the future with hope.
Be Kind to You
Your journey towards mental health is ongoing, and every step you take outside of therapy is just as important as the work done inside. Embrace the journey with kindness and patience, and watch how the seeds planted in therapy take root in your daily life. Remember that it’s always okay to reach out for additional help when you need it.
Catherine Rye is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor based in Minneapolis, MN. Reach out today to schedule an introduction and begin your path toward healing.