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4 Ways to Practice Self-Care and Stay Strong in Between Therapy Sessions

by May 11, 2023

We won’t sugarcoat it: healing is a long process. And reaping the benefits of therapy requires commitment.

However, we understand that one of the hardest parts of therapy can just be getting to the next session, especially early on. The author of this article had plenty of “just make it to Wednesday” weeks in the early days of his therapy journey.

This is all part of the process. Here’s how to stay strong and keep yourself healthy in between therapy sessions:

In Between-Session-Self Care-Practice #1 — Health First

“Stay physically healthy” is generic advice. But, we can’t understate how much physical health impacts mental health.

Intense workouts have been shown to alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms, at least temporarily.

It’s true that running 5ks, doing pushups, and eating kale won’t help you address the specific issue you’re struggling with, but they will give you the best foundation for a healthier mind.

Physical exercise is also a way to get your mind into flow states. Flow state is achieved when you reach absolute concentration on a particular task. This allows you to transcend the pain you’re feeling and achieve a state of clarity.

Clean eating, hydration, and physical exercise serve to boost your energy levels as well, which will help you get through your tough mental moments. 

Physical health is something like aspirin for the mind. It’s generic, but it almost always has a positive effect. So, try to maintain a diet and exercise regimen, even if it’s just cutting out desserts or taking walks.

In Between-Session-Self-Care-Practice #2 — Reflect on Your Last Conversation With Your Therapist, and Plan Your Next Topic

In between sessions is your time to process and apply what you learned in your previous session. 

Think of it as being in a rehab program for your mind. You are rethinking how you relate to yourself and how you see the world. You get to take what is troubling you and analyze it with someone who can offer you a new perspective.

Your therapist will help peel your mind back layer by layer until you reach new levels of self-knowledge. 

Once you start digging into a subject, perhaps your childhood, your relationships, or your self-esteem, the two of you might not find the answers you’re looking for right away. Sometimes, you won’t get to the meat of a problem until the last few minutes of a session.

If this happens, use the time in between sessions to hit the ground running in the next one. Write down your insights so you can bring them up later.

The more proactive you are in addressing your pains, the more your therapist can help you get to the bottom of them. Remember, you can talk about anything and everything in therapy, no matter how difficult.

In Between-Session-Self-Care-Practice #3 — Take Stock of What You Have (Gratitude)

Telling someone to feel gratitude when they’ve never felt worse in their life might seem insensitive, but this suggestion is meant to serve you, not make you feel guilty.

Start your gratitude here: You’ve decided to take therapy. You’ve gone through the process of finding a therapist, and you’ve made it to the chair. These are all accomplishments.

You could be in a mental health crisis right now. But, if you’re reading this, you are still breathing. If you can make it to one session, you can make it to another. You can choose to carry yourself forward, one day at a time, one step at a time.

You’re on the right path. Feel gratitude for that first. Feel proud that you’ve mustered the strength to get this far, and keep having faith in that strength. 

Notice every inch of progress you make, even if it’s just…

  • Being a little kinder to yourself.
  • Having less frequent panic attacks.
  • Letting go of certain memories.
  • Setting new boundaries with other people.
  • Sleeping for 5 hours instead of four.

You’ve handled your pain for a long time. Only now, things are going to start improving.

In Between-Session-Self-Care-Practice #4 — Understand the Power of Just Having Someone to Talk To

Even if you can’t think of what to say in a session, even if you have no idea where to start, what matters is that you start saying. That’s the beginning of healing — honest self-expression.

Therapists are professionals, but they are also human beings with flaws, biases, and dark sides — just like you. Even if you talk to them about something you’re deeply ashamed of, they can hit you back with something they’re ashamed of too.

Every week, you get someone to talk to about anything. You can finally talk about the things you might be too scared to tell your family and friends.

When you start talking, the problems reveal themselves, and it doesn’t take much for a therapist to detect your patterns. 

Approach your next session as an opportunity to express whatever is on your mind. 

*And don’t be afraid if you need to call for an appointment sooner. Anything can be worked out. Just make sure you let your therapist know what is going on.

However You’re Feeling Right Now…

There’s only one thing you need to remember:

Just keep showing up.

Even if you’re just going through the motions in your daily schedule right now, you are capable of making it to the next session.

You’re now someone’s priority, and it might feel like you’re in a maze at first, but things will get better over time. It comes down to trusting the process and giving your therapist a chance to know you.

Here’s what can start happening if you make it through the tough periods in between sessions:

  • The pain or panic you’ve been feeling can start to alleviate.
  • Emotions you’ve held within will start to get released, and the burdens you carry will feel a little lighter.
  • You’ll start recognizing your trigger points and your negative habits.
  • You’ll understand past relationships and other people’s actions. You can work to forgive them or yourself.
  • You’ll start to feel the first embers of self-worth.
  • You’ll learn how to trust yourself.

Or perhaps you’ll feel seen and heard for the first time in your life. That alone is worth the effort.

You’re on the right path. If you stay focused, things can get so much better.