The world today is full of dangers. Those that come from outside and those that come from within ourselves. It’s essential to build a rock-solid fortress around our psyche to protect and preserve our mental health. However, the builders must be paid, and, unfortunately, that’s often the luxury of the wealthy. Of course, we’re talking about mental health professionals and an army of therapists that can help a lot but are certainly not cheap. But fortunately, there are ways to protect your mental health if you can’t afford therapy.
Spend quality time with your loved ones
You might not be able to afford professional builders, but your friends and family can sometimes take on that role and help you out. We’ve all jokingly said things like ”Who needs a therapist when you have a best friend?”. Even though they don’t have the knowledge and experience of a professional therapist, your friends can provide you with the best support in difficult times. They can listen to you, understand your struggle, and give you advice.
Sometimes, when it gets a bit too hard to breathe, all we need is a shoulder to lean on and someone who supports us. A deep and honest conversation can take away a great burden off your back. A simple coffee with your close friends can benefit your brain a lot.
Life gets easier when you share it with someone. Also, as humans are social beings, spending time around people you love is proven to strengthen overall mental well-being. So, in order to do so, make sure to spend as much quality time with your loved ones as you can.
Focus on yourself
Of course, family and friends can be great support, but they are also the leading cause of problems with your mental health, depending on your personal situation. Either way, to be completely at peace, you need to find it within yourself. Even with the army of therapists, establishing and maintaining mental health is mostly a hard DIY job. Focusing on yourself and self-discovery is a complex, multi-layer, and multi-step task. You can begin with the simplest yet most effective triad:
- healthy habits
Sleep more, eat healthier, and hit the gym
Your whole organism functions on homeostasis – a mechanism that means balancing out all the processes in motion. That means your mental and physical health always go together and influence each other. In order to protect your mental health, you need to take care of every cell in your body first.
Help your body heal
It’s important to stress that sleep is one of the crucial ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. You need it to regenerate your body – especially your neurons, which dictate your mental well-being. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can cause severe damage to your psychological self, leading to anxiety and depression. So, make sure to find the time to sleep, no matter how busy your schedule is.
Get all the right nutrients and exercise
Yes, a slice of pizza with a lot of cheese on top can make us instantly happy. But that doesn’t last long. Its ingredients stimulate the secretion of dopamine in your brain but don’t have a true nutritional value. The satisfactory effect of dopamine is the reason why you’d rather have a slice of pizza than broccoli when you’re sad, but you should actually choose some more nutritive foods. Lack of necessary nutrients can impact both your physical and mental health negatively.
This mechanism is similar in substance addictions, too, just to a greater extent. Just like you want that pizza when you’re sad, an addict wants the drug they use, and it can easily lead to a relapse. So, according to experts, it’s important to learn to manage your triggers and resist the urge. Some of the healthy coping skills to prevent drug relapse are proper eating and regular exercise because then, your dopamine levels won’t drop too much, and the urge will be less compelling.
Self-care: a magical recipe or a myth?
We don’t even need to introduce you to the concept of self-care. People talk about it so much that you probably think that it’s some kind of new-time sorcery that doesn’t really work. But, the basis of self-care is self-reflection, which is the basis of all therapy concepts. So, self-care is actually one of the best ways to protect your mental health if you can’t afford therapy.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy day at the spa – taking some time to yourself and writing down your thoughts and emotions can be just enough. It will give you an opportunity to manage your emotions, and everyday life will be a little less of a struggle.
Remind yourself to be grateful
Most therapists around the globe would agree – that a Thanksgiving is supposed to last all year long, not just one day. Okay, you don’t need to bake turkey every day, but make sure to take at least 5 minutes during the day to enlist all the things that you have to be grateful for, no matter how dark the times are. This will give you a positive boost and motivation to keep going. It will help you remember that you’re living a meaningful life worth fighting for every day.
Find additional support online
Living online is not something that we encourage. But, in some cases, it can be a pretty helpful thing. As the internet is one giant hive, you’ll surely find many people that are going through the same thing as you are. That can, sometimes, be a little boost you need to get back on your feet.
So, as you see, there are many ways to protect your mental health if you can’t afford therapy. Besides, no long-lasting fortress can be built around your psychical being without effort on your side. When the times get rough, make sure to stick to the basics. Choose the method that it’s the easiest for you at the given moment and carry it out. Find a little piece of peace and find the way that works for you to make it grow.
Written by: Keith Rogers
About the Author:
Keith Rogers is a retired therapist who loves to share experiences and help those seeking help—especially those who cannot afford traditional forms of therapy. You will always find him online giving free advice to anyone who needs it.