slobbering dog

Life is a bowl of cherries… except when it’s not. Sometimes, life doesn’t just throw us a curveball, but instead lobs over a long, sustained volley of attacks against our very sense of mental, emotional and physical stability. When times get tough and stay tough, you must seek help, and sometimes a professional therapist is the only answer. At other times, however, shelling out $150 or so a week to talk to a third party for an hour is just simply out of the question, because the added expense would cause you more stress than it alleviates!

If you could benefit from a little therapy (and really – who couldn’t?) but don’t want to go the professional route just yet, the following strategies will help you to be your own psychotherapist and use your own mental strength to bring yourself up, or help talk yourself down from the ledge. Often one of the worst parts of suffering is not being able to control it, so by taking control over other aspects of your life, you can lessen this feeling of helplessness. Are you ready to save yourself?

Free therapy for everyone!

Go to the Dog Park. Find your neighborhood dog park and spend an hour in the company of slobbering, bug-eyed wag-happy canines. You will walk away with a smile on your face (and probably some dog hair on your pants). Dogs have a natural and effusive joie de vivre, and just as human emotions are catching, so are canine emotions. Spend some time around these fellow mammals and their sunny, slobbery outlook, and bring yourself back to the simple pleasures of the happy present.

Head to the Beach and Stay There. If you have the luck to live by the ocean, know that your neighbor is one of the world’s greatest soul soothers. As the waves crash and recede, crash and recede, you will feel like they are pulling your pain further and further out to sea and away from you. Find a cozy spot to nestle, sunbathe or read and bask in the sunshine for several hours. You’ll walk away with a new sense of calm.

Create Something. As many tortured artists know all too well, the act of creating something, whether a poem, a painting or a cake, helps to lessen your pain by focusing your mind on a new beginning and the production of original thought. You don’t have to be a Van Gogh for this tip to work; pull out the crayons for a scribble and see how much better you feel. Write, draw or dance through your suffering and you will win back control.

Hug Yourself. Literally wrap your arms around your back and squeeze. Tell that wonderful person just how amazing he or she is, and finish off with a pat on the back.

Change Your Password. You have to type various passwords a million times a day, so you might as well make them inspiring! Think of a small phrase that means something to you, and update your passwords so that they give you a little positive boost every time you type, like keepyourchinup, itsthejourney, smileyouarebeautiful or dreambig. Every time you log in, you’ll get a positive mental boost.

Dance. Close your blinds and put on your very favorite up-tempo music, whether that’s rock and roll, classic hits, techno or funky jazz. Now shut off your brain and let your body interpret the music. Don’t judge your dance moves, but instead let yourself feel a little silly and awkward. Now keep dancing. If dancing speaks to you, it is one of the easiest ways to achieve trance state on the planet – and in trance state, your conscious pain goes away completely.

Write Out Inspirational Quotes. Pick your favorite quotes and mantras and print them out or write them on a colorful poster. Hang as many as you want around your house so that you are uplifted every time you read “True Beauty Lies Within,” “Focus on the Future” or “Freedom Lies in Being Bold.”

Keep a Compliments Book. Whenever someone says something nice to you or about you, record it in a notebook. Write down any nice comments that you remember from your past as well. Soon you will have a collection of warm and fuzzy thoughts to refer to, a secret weapon that you can bring out to read when you are down. We tend to remember negative comments much more clearly than positive ones, and this exercise helps to even the score and remind you what a kick-ass human being you really are.

image: Michaela_Rose_