How many times have you heard or maybe even said ‘what are you going to counselling for, what’s wrong with you?’ but we never hear or say ‘why are you going to yoga/spin class/running etc?’ do we!
I often say that having counselling should be seen as no different than going to the gym, an exercise class or working with a personal trainer. Let me be clear I don’t mean this to detract from the serious work that we as counsellors do or to play down the years of training we undertake, but more that counselling should be seen as a ‘normal’ thing we do to take care of ourselves and keep us feeling mentally healthy, just as exercise keeps us physically healthy.
The brain is not a muscle but studies in neuroplasticity have shown that with practice and effort we can change how the brain reacts to situations. But this doesn’t happen overnight. But then again nor do physical changes.
I know personally that if I really wanted a six pack or to tone my bingo wings I couldn’t expect to see results after a day or two of diet and exercise but if I stick at it after a few weeks or months I would begin to notice positive changes.
Training our brains is the same, it takes time, repetition and effort.
Just as there are many exercises we can do to help our own physical health there are many things we can do to help ourselves feel better mentally – getting the right nutrition and hydration, having a decent night’s sleep, getting some exercise, connecting with loved ones, getting outside, meditating, doing something relaxing or fun are just a few that spring to mind. But knowing what to do isn’t always enough, and that is where counselling can come in.
Counselling isn’t always about the really ‘big’ stuff in life, the crisis moments, the traumas. It can be of course, and seeking therapy for deep issues can be immensely rewarding and life changing, but counselling can also be about offloading and working through the day to day stuff that wears us down and burdens us.
Counselling can be like running a marathon or doing a HIIT class – intense, deep work, but it can also be like a gentle swim or a session of yoga, a calming, accepting nourishing space for growth and self-acceptance. Counselling can be what you need it to be.
so, let’s try and kill the stigma. The next time you are asked why you are going to or considering therapy try saying ‘I’m giving my brain a workout’! See what happens.
Stay well & healthy