What I’ve learned from going to therapy
by: Natalie Gard
Struggling? Yeah, me too
We all have had a taste of what a pandemic can do to out mental health. Anxiety and depression are up in the US across the board. Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. In 2017-2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people over last year’s dataset. Youth mental health is worsening. 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression, compared to 9.2% in last year’s dataset. This rate was highest among youth who identify as more than one race, at 12.4%.
So what can you do right now to combat that? Well, I’ve been going to therapy for years and here’s what I have learned..
- Journaling everyday- It can be tough to carve out time from your already busy schedule but what’s more important? Time or your mental health? Set aside 5 minutes
- Meditate- Now, this one didn’t work for me but who doesn’t want 10 minutes of complete quite time?
- Limit your caffeine + alcohol in take- Both can amplify your symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Get moving- Whatever works for you. Start doing yoga, take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood or play tag with the kids. Getting your heart rate up can help decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. So why not try, right?
- 3-3-3 rule- when you are really amped up this technique has saved me a time or two. The 3-3-3 rule is stop what you are doing and name 3 things you see, 3 things you can hear and move 3 parts of your body. This technique is similar to the 5 sense technique.
- 4/7/8 breathing exercise- My therapist taught me this breathing technique, in which you breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and then let go slowly for eight seconds. It’s supposed to regulate your breathing pattern and calm you down.
- Essential Oils- Gotta have em! Lavender, eucalyptus, stress away all work for me, but this is more of a personal decision
- Listen to calming music- not really my taste, but every now and then I’ll put on meditation music and it does actually work.. when I have the patience to try it.
- Spend time with your pet- It’s not a secret that our pets can really help boost our moods. Some people even register their pets as emotional support animals because of how much they can help with mental health.