Take your vitamins. Brush and floss your teeth. Exercise regularly. Eat less red meat and processed foods. Decrease your intake of sodium and sugar. Drink more water. Get enough sleep. Sit less. Have regular check-ups with your doctor and dentist. Most of us do some of these habits regularly in the hope of preventing something negative from happening to our physical health and over all well-being. We put time and effort into healthy behaviors, habits, and decisions with the belief that we are helping to prevent something negative in the future and to keep ourselves in good health. But why don’t we take this same approach with our mental health?
Most people only think to make an appointment or to start seeing a therapist when something goes wrong, there is a crisis, or there is a problem or issue that needs to be changed or fixed. It is not a common thought or practice to see a therapist when everything is going well, with the idea to keep it that way, or to develop the tools and skills to prevent something down the road. Just as we take preventative measures to protect our physical health, we should be doing so for our mental health as well.
Going to therapy when everything is “good” or seems fine is an excellent time to learn new tools or coping techniques, to practice and become good at them, and to be able to use them when times get rough, which can prevent even worse situations or crises from happening. It is a lot easier to be able to practice or utilize a technique under good conditions with success, continue to practice and strengthen the tools and techniques, and have them become the default automatic reactions when difficult times arise. It is much more difficult for people to try to implement new techniques or tools when times are already hard or overly emotional, when they have not yet had sufficient time or practice with them. By going to therapy before something goes wrong or becomes difficult, you will be better equipped to deal with it when and if it does.
Individual therapy can also be very helpful to increase personal self-confidence, self-soothing abilities, emotional regulation, ability to be on one’s own, and to determine personal interests and goals. All of these aspects can help the induvial to become a stronger person on their own and a greater partner in a relationship or better employee if that is what they are seeking. Relationships and jobs can be hard and stressful and they can end. If one is resilient, strong, and confident and has a well-developed mental health skill set going into either situation, they will be better equipped if they find themselves alone or unemployed at some point in the future. They will be able to overcome and move on from the difficult breakup or unemployment and pursue and achieve those goals once again.
Therapy as a preventative measure can also be significantly helpful to couples. Often times couples get into a relationship without fully knowing their partner, their own and their partner’s communication and conflict resolution styles, and the ways they cope individually and as a partnership in difficult times. Going to therapy before something goes wrong can help the couple to develop positive techniques for dealing with conflict, such as a softened start-up or ways to make compromises, determine shared goals, meanings, and aspirations, build trust and commitment, and learn ways to successfully express feelings, wants, and needs. Couples therapy can also help to increase and strengthen the aspects of the relationship that are already strong and develop the weaker areas, only to improve the relationship as a whole.
You take time to care for your personal health, it’s time to do the same for your mental health! If this sounds like something that could be beneficial to you, please contact Symmetry Counseling and get started today.