New Year’s Resolutions Gone Stale?
January is a great time for a fresh start. Emerging from a busy and stressful holiday season, many of us feel like we’re ready to take on a self-improvement resolution. New year, new us.
Often, we pick New Year’s resolutions that address physical or financial health. In fact, the top four New Year’s resolutions in 2019 were to eat healthier, exercise more, save money, and lose weight. Only one area of mental health, reducing stress, made it in the top five resolutions.
Even if you know that improving your mental health is a good idea, it often takes a backseat to other issues. If we’re being honest with ourselves, many of us have compromised on mental health for the sake of our physical, financial, career, or relationship goals. But the truth is, mental health is connected to all those other areas. If you’re not emotionally well, every other area of your life will suffer.
This is why you should make going to therapy your New Year’s resolution.
It’s certainly a juggling act to pursue wellness in multiple areas of our lives. But by working with a therapist, you are not just prioritizing your mental health. You’re also getting support that may improve your physical, financial, relational, and spiritual wellbeing.
The Power of Therapy
Therapy is a powerful, well-recognized way to treat common issues like depression, anxiety, stress, confidence,, eating disorders, and more. A therapist can help you navigate challenging family dynamics or improve romantic relationships. And therapy can be immensely helpful if you have experienced trauma, loss, or a major life change, like a new job or a health diagnosis.
Once stigmatized, therapy is also becoming more and more popular. High profile celebrities from Prince Harry of Wales and Kristen Bell advocate for it. According to a 2004 survey among 1,000 respondents, almost 91% said that they would likely recommend a mental health professional if they or someone in their family were experiencing a problem.
When something is bothering us, talking to friends and family may help. But if you feel that you need more support than your loved ones can give, consider reaching out to a therapist. Licensed therapists have undergone several years of education, training, and practice. They can help you gain insight about yourself, teach you new skills, and help you navigate life’s stickiest situations — all while being a nonjudgmental and empathetic listener.
Things to consider when looking for a therapist
The relationship between a person and their therapist is an intimate one, so it can be intimidating to know how to find the right match. Both the Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Mental Health offer helpful guidelines on what to look for when starting therapy.
Also, many people are hesitant to seek out therapy because they think it will be too expensive. Don’t let this deter you from your search! If you have health insurance, find out what your coverage is for both in-network and out-of-network providers. If therapy is still unaffordable for you, look for providers who utilize a sliding-scale, or for training programs, who often have reduced fees.
Once you find a therapist, you may want to inquire about their area(s) of expertise. Many therapists have specialized training and experience working with particular issues. It’s important to find a therapist that fits your unique needs. For example, we always recommend working with a trauma-informed therapist.
It’s also important to know what to expect from a therapy session. You may want to ask what treatment modalities a therapist utilizes, and what a typical session looks like. It’s important to have clear and open communication with your therapist, to build a trusting relationship.
When pondering how you’d like your life to look differently in the new year, consider how therapy might help. Whether you need to break negative patterns, learn new skills, discover more about yourself, boost your mood, or improve your relationships, there’s a therapist out there ready to support you.
What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever considered therapy to address them? We’d love to hear from you!
Erin Ross, MS, OTR/L is an occupational therapist and contributing writer in Washington, DC. She believes in data-driven practice, clear and concise communication, and diligent inclusion of the Oxford comma.