Often during crises, we as humans tend to give up on healthy things. We give ourselves permission to eat the whole box of Oreos instead of one or two. We can’t see our friends where and how we normally would so we don’t connect at all. “Facetime calls are just not the same.”, we tell ourselves. We can’t go to the gym like we usually do so we pass on any physical activity. We drink more, we eat more, we stay up later. We know healthy habits are important but when faced with overwhelming fear and anxiety, unhealthy habits provide comfort.
This, of course, is perfectly normal. Who has time to prioritize healthy activities when it feels like the world is ending? Bring on the Oreos. Double Stuf, of course.
The problem is by giving up on healthy activities completely, we unintentionally make the devastating effects of the crisis much worse. By nature, crises put us in a hole we have to figure out how to climb out of. The more we give up on healthy activities, the deeper and stepper that hole becomes. We make the work of climbing back to health even harder and increase the amount of time it takes to return to health and normalcy.
Nowhere is this truer than with therapy. And I get it. Who has time for therapy during a pandemic? We know how stressful this time is. We know we need help. But between the job stress and uncertainty, homeschooling kids, and extreme isolation it can be one thing too many.
The value and importance of therapy do not go away during a crisis. There are many reasons why it deserves to be one of the things you still do during this time.
Therapy helps deal with issues arise when we are stripped of distractions: The challenges we face with mental health, the issues in our relationships, the obstacles we battled before the crisis hit do not magically go away. In fact, crisis often strips away the distractions we used to keep our issues at bay. Without the nights out, or gym, or being able to stay long hours at the office, we finally come face to face with our problems. And if we continue to turn away from them, then recovery from the crisis will feel insurmountable. Therapy helps us face these issues when they come up and gives us the best chance to move forward through these issues. Therapy often simply helps us find our strength to finally deal with issues we’ve been putting off for years.
Therapy promotes resilience: Resilience is one of the most important internal tools we can have. The more resilient we are, the more we are able to adapt and bounce back when we face challenges. The more resilient we are, the faster we can climb out of the holes we find ourselves in. Resilience helps us return to feeling normal again when we face painful experiences and crises. It also acts as a preventative against mental health issues. The more resilient we are, the less likely we are to experience those issues. Therapy helps you build resilience. Like any other muscle, our mental muscles have to be ‘worked out’ in order to be strong. Therapy is resilience training.
Therapy helps you process difficult emotions: Be honest. Even the most hardened, never-cry, tough-as-nails stoics among us have felt the twinge of anxiety. All of the emotions are cranked up to 11. And amplified emotions can be confusing to sort out. Grief, fear, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, anger all become one jumbled overwhelming mess. Before we know it, emotion is solely driving the train, leaving thinking and logic behind. Therapy helps us process through those difficult emotions and make sense of them. It normalizes those emotions we are afraid to speak out loud. Understanding what we are going through emotionally helps us know how to manage them and helps us find a better balance between our thinking brain and emotional brain.
Therapy helps you re-discover strength you forgot you had: So often we are so close to our problems we can no long differentiate ourselves from the problem. We become the problem, losing sight of who we are and the strength we possess. Our problems feel rooted in our failures or in the failures of others. They feel too overwhelming to handle and we start believing the problem is too big for us. Therapy helps you find you again. Good therapy is constantly on the lookout for forgotten strength and brainstorming ways to access that strength. Everything looks different from a place of strength. Therapy simply helps remind us that it is there.
Therapy helps you find strategies that work: Most everyone you know probably has strategies about how to handle life. Some are probably really good. Some are probably really bad. And some, quite frankly, are terrible. Therapists work from tried and true strategies, proven over time to be effective. And they get to know you so you can personalize those tried and true strategies to your specific needs and build them around your specific strengths.
Prioritizing getting the help you need right now can be diffcult. But it is not impossible and it may just be the thing that makes a difference.
We’re here and ready as ever to help when you need us.
At Mathews Counseling, all of our therapists are highly qualified with a minimum of a Master’s degree in a mental health field, licensed by a state board, and experienced in the areas listed on their bios. We are sure there are a number of other questions you may have with regards to starting therapy and we are happy to answer any of them.