By Laura Wagstaff, Counselor, ALC
It feels like today’s world is more open to discussions about mental health than it has ever been in the past. For the first time, many people feel like therapy and other forms of mental health treatment are acceptable options for them. Maybe you’ve tried therapy or mental health treatment in the past but it was not the right time.
If you find yourself in a season of your life where you feel like you can fully commit to beginning a mental health journey, that’s a huge win! Having secure footing as you start can be incredibly important in keeping up the momentum to move forward, below we’ll explore a few ideas around how to keep yourself feeling secure as you begin your journey.
- Finding your safe people
- A very important first step is identifying who in your life will empower you in your journey. Who in your life do you feel is a safe person/ people to trust with the steps you are taking in your life? Who can you reach out to for support?
- Finding a therapist or program that is a good fit for you
- When you’re doing work around your mental health it’s crucial to have professionals that you feel seen and heard by. Unfortunately, I work with many clients who have sought mental health treatment before that was not a positive experience. I always empower clients to know that they can offer feedback on how they feel their treatment is or is not working for them. Not every clinician is the right fit for you and it is okay to take some time before finding the best fit for your needs.
- Identify your personal goals
- Beginning a journey must be centered around having a path. When you are going into the mindset of beginning a mental health journey, having an idea of goals you are wanting to work toward is crucial for both you and a professional to begin conceptualizing and working toward.
You’re set up, but now what?
- Working toward understanding your commitment to change
- You might be finding yourself attending therapy, reading helpful material, watching TED talks, etc. but feeling stuck in the same patterns. It will likely be an uncomfortable part of your journey to attain/maintain better mental health because of the things you will likely need to start changing. What relationships are not serving you? Where do you need to place boundaries? What lifestyle habits hold you back from accomplishing your goals? Once you commit to making active changes, you will likely begin to find yourself expanding your comfort zone and seeing some progress!
- Understanding your own comfort zone as well as your flex zone
- When building new habits and practices it is needed to identify your goals and where you can begin to meet those goals. In other words, what are you comfortable practicing now? Expanding upon that will be the next step of asking yourself, “Where am I comfortable now and where can I be a little less comfortable but not completely overwhelmed?” This idea is what describes a person’s ‘flex zone’ and is the place where you will find yourself growing and expanding (which is not always comfortable!). Understanding where your limits are around these zones will be crucial in your process and may even change over time.
- Having self compassion for the process and for yourself
- The best for last reminder regarding this entire process is to be patient and gentle with yourself. Gaining a better understanding of yourself and of your mental health is a process that takes time. Not everyday will be a win and a significant part of healing is having to confront the things that make us incredibly uncomfortable. It’s completely okay to have a bad day as long as you don’t lose your drive to keep moving forward!