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Long ago, for whatever reason, therapy was deemed as something to hide. Talking to someone about how you are feeling, has been looked down upon. But let’s take a minute to think about a few things. When you are not feeling well, say you have a sinus infection or the flu… what do you do? You call the doctor, within a few hours, you have an appointment scheduled and you have access to the medication you need to get better. Why is that not the same when we are experience feelings such as; depression, anxiety, and high stress? All of these issues may go untreated for weeks or months due to personal fear, long waitlists, the therapists in your network are not accepting new patients, the list goes on.
A recent study, co-sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the Cohen Veterans Network, and conducted by research firm Ketchum Analytics, showed that 94 million Americans have had to wait longer than one week for mental health services. That is a long time for many people to wait, it even may cause further psychological damage. In other cases reported, the wait time to see a therapist in their insurance network were several months to a year!
With the growing “stressed out” population, what are some ways that you can improve your mental health?
Gratitude Journaling. Each day when you wake up write down 3 things you are grateful for. Big or small, finding 3 positives daily will help keep you living in the moment and start your day on a high note.
Walking and Light Exercise. Taking yourself away for a short time and out of your head helps make you more present in what you are doing. Pay attention to your breathing, sounds, sights and smells around you. This will help bring you back grounded and in the moment.
Digital Detox. Take a few hours or even a half day away from social media and your digital device. After a long stressful day it is easy to sit and scroll on instagram. Take that time you would spend scrolling & replace it with something that you love. Maybe it is reading a good book, seeing a movie you have been waiting to see, or catching up with a friend.
Random Act of Kindness. At some of our lowest points it is hard to see the forest between the trees. Reaching out and doing something nice for a stranger or being a shoulder to cry on for a friend may boost our overall wellbeing. It helps put into perspective we may not be alone, everyone is fighting a battle.
Don’t Bottle It Up. Talking to a loved one can really help get things off your chest. Let it out and do not be afraid to spill the beans on your true feelings. Crying is not a sign of weakness, (though society tells us otherwise) it allows us to identify the pain and start working through it for a healthy solution.
If you or someone you know is going through hard times always know you can reach out! Check out the 24/7 hotline you can contact at any point if you need to. Do not be afraid to contact a local therapist in your area as well!