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What to Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy

Three things you can do to improve your mental health immediately

Photo by Alex Green:

When you earn in a rapidly declining economy like Nigeria, affording the basics of food, shelter, and clothing becomes your top priority.

Going to therapy becomes a luxury.

The twist with this is that with the economy declining every day and the cost of living rising, people’s mental health suffer from the woes. According to WHO research on the Impact of Economic Crisis on Mental Health, “substantial research has revealed that people who experience unemployment, impoverishment and family disruptions have a significantly greater risk of mental health problems”.

Therapy in any part of the world is expensive and in a place like Nigeria, it is rare and largely unaffordable for the average person.

I recently went on a bender and for so long I was stuck in a rut. Being guilty of not doing anything with the time I had was making my whole thought process spiral into my ability to succeed.

Our mind is the source of our positive and negative feelings. The state of our minds affects how we interpret our experiences.

Our thoughts are where it all starts from, it is how we make up stories about our life, and it is also how we reinforce the stories we were told as kids by our parents, family, friends, or teachers. It is also through your thoughts that you can trace the source of your problems.

If you think you might need therapy for whatever reason and you can’t afford one, here are some of the things that I do that help me understand my mind and thought process better thereby improving my life.

1. Writing

‘Words were thought to have medicinal and magical healing powers, so much so that inscribed above Egypt’s famed library of Alexandria was the phrase “The Healing Place of the Soul.”’

Writing is one of the methods applied in therapy to help people process their emotions and experiences. “One of the most powerful parts of therapy is cultivating the ability to observe our thoughts and feelings”, said Elizabeth Sullivan, a licensed marriage and family therapist in San Francisco. Writing is active, you are observing your thoughts and putting them down. When you are in your head, it all seems foggy and confusing. But whether it is journaling or just trying to process your thoughts, writing can help you understand better. Do away with the thought of it needing to be perfect or needing to share.

· Start with what you are thinking

· How you are feeling

· Why you feel the way you do

It doesn’t have to be coherent or follow any format, just start with the first words that come to mind.

2. Meditation

You are broke and are about to spend your last N2000 on Shawarma. Hunger is a feeling that you can manage for a few hours even a day or two. There are days when you are too busy to eat or you barely manage a meal and on those days, it means nothing.

But on the day when you can’t afford to buy food, you start feeling sad about your state and start telling yourself stories about how your present state would affect your future or how things aren’t getting better. Then you keep spiraling, you probably think you don’t deserve good things or that good thing can’t happen to you.

Meditation helps you build a habit of observing your thoughts and knowing the exact moment when you start thinking in ways that are not helpful. Chances are you have come across the advice to meditate before and if you have been contemplating it, let this be your sign to try it out.

I use the Headspace app and it is a one-stop shop for guided meditation and many interactive videos and content that explains key concepts.

3. Spending time with friends and loved ones

Richard Waldinger delivering his Ted Talk six years ago as the Director of The Harvard Study of Adult Development said they tracked the lives of 724 men for 75 years and the clearest message from the study is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

During the lockdown, the biggest concern and hit that people had on their mental health was loneliness and lack of social interaction. I however made a stunning realization, spending time with my family centered me at the time. I used to think that the fact that I enjoyed spending time with my friends meant I was wasting time because my parents always said that. But now, I value any time I spend with friends because it invigorates me and makes me feel light. Talking with them and sharing your experiences could lead you to feel better because they may have insights and tips that would be helpful.

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Toyin Zuleiha

Toyin Zuleiha

I like to expand your perspective and world view with my words. How To Put Yourself Out There on Social Media- course #ZuleihaXpressions