Talking therapy was one of the best things I’d ever done for my mental health. But if I’d chosen to access it through the NHS, I would have been at the bottom of a very, very long waiting list. Unfortunately, mental health services are still scarce, and a vast majority of them inaccessible to people due to the high cost of therapy. I chose to see a counsellor privately, for £45 per weekly session – and this was cheap where I live! I saw therapy as an investment, so even though it was expensive, the help I’d receive would be worth every penny in the long run.
However, I am very lucky to be living at home and working full time, so I could afford the expense. I understand that this isn’t possible for everyone, and it’s upsetting and frustrating that a lot of people can’t access necessary services because they can’t afford it. I’ve found a few alternatives and lifestyle changes that have been very helpful before, after, and in between therapy sessions. These are a fraction of the cost, and may keep you afloat while you wait to be seen on the NHS or save for private treatment.
Talk to someone
Conversation is a powerful tool, and one that is often overlooked. A trusted support network can get you through a tough time. Sometimes a listening ear is all you need after a bad day. Knowing you’re not alone and having someone in your life that you can vent to without judgement is probably the closest thing you’ll get to talking therapy.
I know, I don’t like it either – but there’s no debate, exercise releases endorphins and reduces stress. I go for a run or take Angus on a long walk. The time outside in the fresh air makes me feel so energised and positive, and exercising also improves my body confidence and self-esteem. You might prefer something low impact like hiking or yoga, or you might enjoy the social aspect of a team sport instead of a solo workout. If you joined the gym years ago and have hated it ever since, find something you do like!
Meditating is wonderful when I’m stressed or anxious. There are plenty of meditation tracks and videos on Spotify and YouTube, guided or unguided, that’ll completely change your state of mind in just a few minutes. If you’ve never tried it before or are sceptical, give it a try, because I was once sceptical too.
Listen to podcasts/Read self help books
These can be valuable insights into the world of psychology, how our minds work, and how to better manage our mental health. I’ve only read a few self help books, but I find reading such a great escape and stress buster anyway. I like listening to podcasts in the car on my way to work. It puts me in the right frame of mind for the day ahead.
Write it all down
How do you think I started this blog? Writing down my upsets, frustrations, and good times has been so rewarding and beneficial to my mental health. When my thoughts are on paper, I can analyse and reflect on them. They’re also really great to look back on to see how far you’ve come. My counsellor and I called my notebook my ‘Paper therapist’!
I hope these tips help you while you are in the process of receiving treatment. If you can find the time to incorporate just one of these things into your everyday life, it’d make such a huge difference – believe me, I know! We all have mental health, and we owe it to ourselves to take care of it.