[Important disclaimer here: I am not a medical or mental health professional, I’m not able to diagnose or treat anybody for any illness, but I can share my personal experiences and life lessons as somebody who has struggled with various mental health issues for 10+ years in the hopes that somebody finds use, comfort or value in it]
While not everybody can afford the luxury of therapy or professional treatment, everybody needs to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing one way or another.
If you’re in the UK like me, you might spend months and months on a waiting list to see a counsellor or a psychologist for free on the NHS. Moreover, you might not have the funds to seek private professional treatment.
And so, you end up in a bit of a twilight zone for a while. Meaning you have to find ways to manage your mental health without a therapist or professional.
You’ve acknowledged that you need some extra support or you want to try a certain type of therapy. You’ve already made the decision to take action and focus on bettering your mental health. That’s a huge deal in itself.
But during those weeks/months that you’re on waiting lists, searching for the right therapist, or just unsure about whether you even want to pursue professional help, it’s helpful to have strategies in place to help you cope and manage your mental health.
This involves creating a structured yet flexible routine to provide you with a sense of stability and purpose. When you’re really struggling mentally, you might find yourself living moment to moment. You lose sight of the bigger picture, and chase whatever feels good or numbs you in the moment.
If this resonates with you, you’re absolutely not alone in that. Also, I know how frustrating it can be to be told to meditate or exercise when you’re so low.
Some days it can feel impossible to get out of bed, so that’s the last thing you want to do. Those are things that can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing, but they are secondary to doing a lot of inner work and understanding the ways in which you have control over certain aspects of your mind.
Having a routine and rituals that ground you can take away from at least some of the intensity. It might not even feel like it at the time, but it can gently guide you away from going down some more destructive paths.
So, here are ten ways to manage your mental health without a therapist:
Sticking to a consistent bed time and waking time will help to solidify your routine as well as regulate your circadian rhythm.
Sure it may not always go to plan, but you have it and it’s something to strive for. I know I always felt my absolute worst when my sleeping pattern was irregular (non-existent) and I was totally out of sync with my body.
If you struggle to sleep and aren’t prescribed sleep medication, try an over-the-counter natural sleep remedy, a herbal tea such as chamomile or sleepy time tea, or relaxing videos on YouTube like ASMR or nature sounds.
In addition to sleep, try having structured mealtimes if you find you often forget to eat. You may not be hungry at usual mealtimes, but try eating or drinking something nourishing as a staple in your day.
Shower every morning or whenever you wake up, if its the only thing you do that day. Don’t think of it as a pre-cursor to something else, just an activity in and of itself.
Never underestimate the transformative power of a shower.
You can sit down for most of the time if you need to, but try and get up and just stand underneath the water letting it hit your face and hair for a bit.
Spend as much or little time as you want, but I’d say aim for a minimum of 5 minutes.
You also might find it easier to get dressed once you’ve showered, helping you feel more put together.
Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined. So, even if you don’t fully believe it yet, say it out loud three times or write it down if you prefer.
You can find positive affirmations online (Pinterest is great for this) or you can make up some of your own that are particularly powerful and resonant for you.
If you did have a therapist, what would you want to say to them? Is there anything in particular weighing on your mind? Are you confused or angry about how you’re feeling? Which emotions are coming up for you right now?
Let all your thoughts, feelings, and existential questions flow out onto the page.
This way, you can better untangle and identify your big, overwhelming thoughts so you know where you need to start when it comes to addressing issues, finding self care strategies and altering your limiting beliefs.
Podcasts, books, articles, informative social media accounts, mental health blogs – either general content or content that is specific to your experience.
Doing this can help you to feel like you’re tackling the problem head on and confronting it rather than pushing it to one side and trying to act as though nothing is wrong.
Personally, I’ve learned so much from online resources like these. You can pick up coping strategies, relaxation tips, find a new inspiration and just generally feel less alone.
If you’re able to, try going for a walk by the sea, somewhere wooded or a national park. If you live in a city, try and visit a park or green space.
Being out in nature can put a lot of things into perspective, help us think about the bigger picture, re-energize you and boost your mood. Getting out into nature is often associated with positive mental wellbeing.
It sounds simple but we often don’t realise that our breathing has become erratic when we’re feeling anxious or stressed.
Taking some time to focus on and regulate your breathing can have a huge impact on your anxiety levels and reduce some of that stress.
Here is one example of a breathing exercise you can use to calm yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed or on edge.
Having a space that is clean and clutter-free can only help your mental and emotional wellbeing. But when you’re struggling, cleaning can feel like an impossible task and things tend to snowball.
Before you know it, mess is everywhere and it feels increasingly difficult and overwhelming to tackle it.
Cleaning in very small, manageable chunks can help. Try clearing away two or three things at a time when you leave a room. Or take two plates/bowls/mugs to the kitchen to wash when you go in there.
If you have a big pile of washing up to do, set a timer for three minutes and just wash what you can in that time. Have a break, return to it later and do the same thing again.
It’s a tricky thing to master but once you do it, it will make all the difference.
Take time to enjoy things that distract you, move you, inspire you, make you laugh, etc.
I know that when I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve found the most comfort in art like music, films, and TV characters.
If you’re having a bad day, explore some new artists on Spotify or watch a film you’ve been meaning to watch for a while. Make that your focus. Write in a journal or even a note on your phone “Today has been difficult so far. I’m feeling xyz. But I’m going to spend some time doing xyz and I’m open to things improving”.
(Sometimes we need these reminders because once we’ve labelled it a bad or difficult day, it becomes even more difficult to break out of it. Once we’ve resigned ourselves to it being hard, we lose motivation. Acknowledge how you feel but give yourself the opportunity to break out of it).
I know this is much easier said than done most of the time. But letting somebody know how you’re feeling can help to lighten the load a bit.
Your loved ones can offer you comfort and extra support, validate your feelings, help you come up with a self-care/safety plan, offer you distraction and empathize with you.
Keeping things inside will only lead to more difficulty expressing yourself down the line. If you really aren’t comfortable sharing with another person, try journaling for some cathartic relief.
I hope you found this helpful and have some ideas about how to manage your mental health without a therapist.
If you’re reading this, I’m so glad you’re here and you found this post! I believe in you!
Hi cherubs, I’m Pip ✨
Matcha and solar-powered eclectic witch from the north coast of Wales.
Welcome to my digital living room, pour yourself some tea and get comfy. This space is all about spiritual wellbeing, self care & lifestyle for magically-inclined misfits ☕🌙✨