Professional counselors definitely have their role in health and wellness. They give you support, teach skills, give you motivation and encouragement to keep going, provide interventions that improve functioning, and challenge you to move beyond your present level of functioning. But what can you do when you can’t afford counseling?
The American Holistic Health Association states that 50% of health comes from lifestyle. Heredity accounts for 20%, environment is 20%, and medical care is 10%. That means that 70% of what ails you is within your control! So self-help is absolutely mandatory if you are to achieve wellness. Let me give you some suggestions for how to help yourself if you can’t afford counseling. Once you get on a roll, I am sure you will be able to come up with many of your own.
Meditation – EVERYBODY who lives in the modern world needs to do some type of daily meditation. By meditation, I mean some practice that gets you centered, mindful, and slows down your nervous system. It could be tai chi, Transcendental Meditation (TM), qigong, yoga, breathing, guided imagery, toning, or something else. It doesn’t really matter what method you choose. What matters is allowing the nervous system a chance to reset each day. The brain was not designed to deal with the insane amount of stimulation that it gets each day.
To put this into perspective, The Environmental Protection Agency recommended that we be exposed to no more than 55 decibels of noise because noise produces stress, impacts the immune system, correlates with heart disease, and reduces sleep. Your average refrigerator hums at 45 decibels, normal conversation is 60, and heavy traffic is 70 to 85. That’s just the stress we are subjected to from noise. Add in electromagnetic frequencies, family stress, work stress, financial stress, and you can see how overloaded everyone is. Do yourself a favor and find a meditation practice and do it daily.
Exercise – Every body needs to move. We drive to work or school, sit all day, then come home and plop in front a television. A sedentary lifestyle leads to death. The lymphatic system has no pump. It needs movement to help your body detoxify. Your joints need to be lubricated. They get this through movement. The longer they don’t move, the harder it becomes to move. The sitting position also inhibits lung function and digestion. This may make you want to get out and run. Walk! When you exercise vigorously, you put your adrenals under stress. The adrenals are already stressed by modern living. Walking, qigong, tai chi, and dancing are better choices.
Eat Well – Eating well means eating foods that look similar to the way they did when they were walking, flying, swimming, crawling or growing in the earth. If that was never true, don’t eat it. For example, celery is okay. Fast food, cake, and spaghetti are out. There is no cake or spaghetti tree. Artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, fillers, or stabilizers are also out. This goes for what you put on your body too. What goes on your skin goes in your body. Use only natural bath and body products and natural cleaners.
Sleep – Most Americans are sleep deprived. Lots of people forego sleep in order to get more done. Some can’t sleep. The body needs sleep to rest, digest, detox, and repair itself. If you are not sleeping, you are doing yourself a disservice.
Stimulate Your Brain – Your mind needs something to do. I see many people who are so overstimulated that they can’t wait to veg out in front of video games or the television. Do yourself a favor and stop. Your mind needs stimulation, just not the type that you are giving it. Talk to a friend. Listen to a podcast on something you are interested in. Read a book. Write something. Get those brain cells working! A healthy mind is a stimulated one.
Laugh – Laughter makes the body and brain work better. It gives you resilience and helps you to reason through things more easily. It’s restorative.
Surround Yourself With Positive, Flowing Energy – This means natural flowing energy – like a creek- and people or things that are flowing. Weak energy follows strong energy. To get your energy moving and feeling good, surround yourself with people who are positive and moving.
Develop a Growth Mindset – Many people I see create a lot of their own limitations because they have a fixed mindset. This limits the effectiveness of any counseling, any skills you learn, and any energy work you receive because the mind, body, and spirit influence each other. When your mindset is working with you, your potential expands tremendously.
Get Connected – What do you feel connected to? Where do you feel safe? Get more of that. Maybe you really love your cat. Maybe you have a fabulous family or great group of friends. Maybe you really love to engage in art. Maybe you’re part of a really great community. Whatever gets you there, make time for it. This is often what we sacrifice first. Love yourself enough to reclaim it.
Nourish Your Spirit- All true healing takes place at the spirit/energy level. If the seed that created the dis-ease remains, the condition will continue to manifest in one way or another.
Get Out In Nature– Nature has no agenda. It is self-balancing. When you are out in nature, your inner rhythm will follow its own natural rhythm because that is how nature works. If you really want to maximize your time there, learn mindfulness. Practice using it while out in nature. Watch the animals. Observe plant life and the ecosystem. See how everything works in harmony. Notice how it’s all balanced and interconnected. If you can, feel that interconnectedness within you. You can never be lonely when you are plugged into to the web of life. This experience can also help you to notice more quickly when you are out of the rhythm of nature. It will become so unpleasant that you will want to self-correct long before you are in crisis.
Work holistically– The imbalance to your energy body may be caused by a disruptive though pattern (such as “I am not good enough”). It could be caused by a negative environment or a eating too much sugar. When you focus on a symptom, you could be far off base when identifying the problem. The problem isn’t “this thing,” it’s all of you. Fortunately, if you make a positive change in one area, it will create a ripple effect throughout the system.
Please do not dismiss these ideas as trivial. They form the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. When your body is stable and has energy, it can often do what it needs to do to heal itself with minimal help from outsiders. This can mean that if you choose to do therapy, it’s faster and more effective so you spend less time there.
These are just some ideas to get you started when you can’t afford counseling. You have absolute control over your lifestyle and environment. You can make a difference in your life by just making one change. If you find that you can’t do it, you just don’t have the energy, it’s time for professional help.
Don’t say “I can’t.” You can if you value it enough. I see people every day who say they can’t afford this or that, but they find a way to buy those new shoes, a video game console, or get their kid in soccer. Value yourself enough to put yourself first. You are the most precious thing you have. Care for yourself enough to get you to the point where you have the energy to care for yourself. Ultimately it will be you who decides whether you are healthy or not (because 70% is within your control), so it’s a small investment with a potentially huge payoff.