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Therapy can mean a lot of things. Some people probably picture the classic TV/film interpretation of someone lying on a couch in an oddly decorated office whilst someone asks them questions about their parents. The reason it turns up so much in pop culture is because it has become something that a lot of people rely on. Whether trying to save a failing relationship, resolving some issues brought from a traumatic past or overcoming grief it seems that this has become a crutch for a lot of people. But, what if you don’t want to sit in a room with someone and talk about your feelings? Not everyone is great at opening up, and not everyone wants to. Problems are personal and although I always encourage people to share their burdens I also fully appreciate that sometimes it just isn’t easy. So, what are my alternatives?
It seems an obvious one – and something a lot of people will probably have experience with. Sometimes when it all gets too much music can really have a healing power. It can be the cathartic aid that enables you to confront some of your emotions, it can be the distraction that helps you forget about the world, the boost that lifts your mood or the kick that gives you more energy. Although far from a complete solution to all of our problems sometimes we just need a quick fix to help us through the day and music is so good for this. I personally have a couple of go-to songs for all of my needs. I feel like setting up short playlists that cater to the range of your emotional needs is a really handy tool to just enable you to keep yourself going, even if just to put a smile on our faces for short while.
For how unfit I look and feel I seem to preach exercise a lot in this magazine – but to be completely honest it has been a huge boost for me mentally. I go for a run every morning, I don’t run particularly fast and I don’t run particularly far and I’m usually out for about an hour so I’m not breaking any records by a long stretch. Even so, the lift that this gives me for the day ahead is just unbelievable. Firstly, just the joy in the morning of being out in the sun and fresh air is the ideal way to start my day; it wakes me up and makes up for all of those hours spent behind a computer screen working. Secondly is the sense of accomplishment; as I said I’m not exactly running marathons but it just feels like a productive start to my day. Even if I don’t accomplish anything else I know that I’ve at least been for my run and done something healthy and positive. Third is the time to myself. I like to listen to podcasts while I run and I just love having that time in the morning after I wake up and before I start work to have a good laugh at some great characters. Sometimes I listen to music and this offers a different feeling, allowing me to sink more into my own thoughts and to develop more of a rhythm.
Ok so I’m not exactly green fingered and what I’m really referring to is cutting the lawn and trimming the hedges but that didn’t fit into my one word sub titles theme! So this seems like a weird one – for a lot of people keeping on top of their hedges and lawn seems like more of a burden than a task of any mental gain. I, on the other hand, love it! Sure over the summer when you’re trying to make plans and the grass is growing seemingly quicker than ever before it does feel like a chore, but the feeling of actually doing the job itself is unrivalled. Similarly to running it’s just nice to be out in the sunshine and having some time to yourself. No one is going to bother you because you’re clearly busy and even if they did you wouldn’t hear them – perfect! The other great thing is the job satisfaction. You can really see where you’ve been and it is so satisfying – looking back over the freshly cut lawn, observing the neatness of your lines and appreciating a job well done. These are jobs that don’t always take that long but they make a huge difference (at least for a couple of days). How satisfying and rewarding is it to look over your freshly cut grass or neatly trimmed hedge and take on a sense of pride knowing that it is the fruit of your own labour? There may be some of you that I’ve lost by this point but it isn’t just me! I recently read an article about rapper Rick Ross and his decision to mow his own lawns at his huge estate. Having heard locals tell him the previous owner spent almost a million dollars just on keeping the lawn mowed, Rick Ross decided to buy himself a tractor and grass cutter and put himself to work and revels in how much he loves sitting in his tractor, relaxing and getting the job done.
Although not for everyone I think the more traditional form of therapy is a very helpful endeavour. Whilst the things I’ve mentioned can paper over the cracks and make us feel better sometimes we do need to find the root of the problem to solve it, rather than just putting out fires as they appear. That being said, and having some experience with therapy myself, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and it can be uncomfortable. I remember sometimes leaving therapy sessions feeling atrocious having confronted things that were so deep down I didn’t know they existed, and thinking, 'Wouldn’t it have just been better to leave that stone unturned?' In reality though I know that this is not always healthy and we cannot ignore feelings forever. I can also say that therapy allowed me to express thoughts and feelings without a filter – although people in my support network were always happy to listen I didn’t always want to burden their busy lives with my problems when I’m sure they have their own. Therapy allowed me that chance to get things off of my chest instead of bottling them up. I think the key is balance. My experiences with therapy have always been short term periods to try and deal with individual issues – and it did help; but I think it is just as important that we identify the things in our lives that can offer us a similar release daily to maintain a good level of mental health.
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