Let's face it... therapy can feel like a luxury.
Many movies and TV shows have classically painted therapy as a luxury - a treatment reserved for the upper-class who actually can find the time and money to attend therapy.
On the other hand, we also see therapy portrayed as something reserved for the severely mentally ill. So much of our media capitalizes on the 'asylum' aspects of mental health that portray people stuck behind bars and talking to the walls.
While I hold no judgment against either type of portrayal of therapy (because there is certainly a place for both), I have to wonder if therapy in the middle can exist?
I have so many conversations about the cost of therapy, and if it is really necessary. The question I often come back with is if they have ever paid over $50 for a massage, a spa treatment, regular manicures/pedicures, beauty products, gym memberships, nutrition supplements, etc. Many spend a great deal of money on health and wellness! Yet, many find it difficult to spend money on mental health and wellness. I know, it can be a hard pill to swallow to imagine spending money for private practice therapy. After all, who knows if it will be worth your money?! You not only have to pay for a service before knowing the outcome, but trust someone with some of the deepest parts of yourself.
Of course I may be biased as a therapist, but investing in your mental wellness is something we can all be better at! Here are a few ways to get started investing your resources into your mental wellness:
Spend your time on meditation, journaling, and other self-reflective activities.
This is an inexpensive way to begin investing in your mental wellness! YouTube and Google are filled with free resources for meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, journal templates, and much more! You can even find worksheets for anxiety, stress, depression, body image, and more.
If you are a person deeply touched by nature, make time once a week or once a month to get outside and be still. Ditch your phone, and spend some quiet time in nature relaxing and reflecting. Let your mind wander.
Begin by investing your time in these easily accessible tools.
- Spend your energy on removing things in your life that bring you negativity.
It's no doubt that this is challenging and takes a lot of energy! Examine your life and reflect on the different things that bring you stress, resentment, bitterness, humiliation, shame... Are they things you can remove? If so, begin considering taking steps to remove these stressors.
Perhaps it's being notified of news stories on your phone - turn them off and be intentional about the news you consume. Perhaps it's a person in your life - consider spending less time with them. Perhaps it's a constantly messy environment - spend five minutes a day over the next week devoted to cleaning. Of course, some things will be much harder to remove or maybe impossible. Start with the small things.
Again, this takes energy! But you can invest this energy in yourself to begin removing barriers to happiness and relaxation.
- Spend your joy and happiness well.
Perhaps joy and happiness are fleeting feelings for you. Maybe you don't experience them often... that is really hard. This may be one of the more difficult tips to cultivate, but with consistency it could pay off.
Notice what is happening around you when you experience happiness. Are there things around you that you can recreate? Maybe being around certain people? Animals? Did you hear of great news? Do you feel amazing in certain clothes? Did going for a walk make you feel better than you did before? You have the opportunity to learn from yourself here. No matter how large or small, paying attention to these things can help you maximize happiness and maybe even recreate it. At the very least, focus on taking mental snapshots of the moment. Return to these snapshots on days that feel tough.
Too often we pull ourselves out of moments of joy by returning to our phones, or stressors. We do this without even thinking! So take time to be intentional about your happiness. Savor the joy, savor the happiness. Enjoy it like you would your favorite meal. And don't forget to take that mental snapshot!
- Spend your money on mental health.
This is a tough one to convince people of, but the result is worth it. Ask yourself, "Am I worth it? Do I deserve to spend this money on myself in the pursuit of happiness? Is it worth the cost to feel better than I do now?"
It is easy to justify spending money on a massage, or doctor's appointment. It is more difficult to feel worth that money when you consider spending it on therapy... and that is a great place to start with therapy! You can begin in engaging in a conversation about why it is difficult for you to feel okay spending money on your mental health.
Of course it is not always within our means to attend therapy. Our health insurance system is broken when it comes to mental health, and it is difficult to find an affordable private pay therapist. So here are a few other ways you can spend your money on your mental wellness:
-Purchase empowering literature. (I highly recommended some Brene Brown books as a place to start!)
-Attend a group therapy session. It is much more affordable, and you get to meet others who may be going through similar things in your area.
-Schedule free consultations. Many therapists offer free consultations. Of course this isn't investing your money, but it can help you get an idea of what you might gain from attending therapy.
-Attend seminars or informational meetings. There are many mental health agencies that offer free or low cost gatherings to teach you about ways to incorporate mental wellness into your life. You can learn about anxiety, depression, or other problems you may be experiencing with practical action steps.
At the end of the day, ask yourself if you are worth it. Are you worth time, energy, joy, and money? Start small, and work your way up to spending resources on yourself. If we treated our minds as well as some of treat our bodies, we would be in very good shape! ;)