Counselling: The Gym for the Psyche. By Mairead Ashcroft 12/12/16

I have noticed that it is almost impossible to live through one single day without coming across an inference about improving our physical health. This is great because we who follow western diets, often sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy social traditions seem to be carrying more body fat than we ever have before.
Articles about the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity related disease report epidemic rates of childhood adolescent and adult physical health issues but not the possible underlying mental health issues. It is wonderful to exercise and care about the food that we consume but as a holistic mental health therapist, I believe that  we might only be engaging in superficial changes. In order to make any real changes in our lives we may need a whole person approach, body, mind and spirit. There are no miracle cures or magic potions that will offer you better health. We humans, like all organic beings, have vulnerabilities and so to do our mind. Just like joining a gym and taking care of our cardiovascular and endocrine systems, there are some enormous physical and mental health benefits that may be gained by engaging in a therapeutic relationship with a mental health practitioner.
Can you imagine waking up in the morning and saying, "I can't wait to do something great for my mental health today!" Instead many of us look for subtle or not so subtle ways of avoiding or dissociating from any issues that might be triggering anxiety or other emotional or psychological difficulties. If we injured our knee and pain was stopping us from being able to function for a couple of days, we might wear it and soldier on. But if that pain lasted for weeks or months and was getting in the way of our work life, social and intimate relationships and was causing us to be less interactive in the world, we would most likely go to a doctor, have an ultrasound or ex-ray , have some physiotherapy or other treatment so that we could regain full capacity to live our lives the way we wished, with no barriers holding us back. Now, how long might we carry a mental health issue, relationship problem, inner critic, addiction or past trauma issue before seeking some assistance from a trained professional........... months, years, never?
Now, imagine if we treated our mental health issues with the same importance that we place on our physical health issues. Imagine going to our mind gym to meet with our therapist or counsellor who could offer us the space to find out what it is that we truly needed to live our life with authenticity. Imagine entering a collaborative relationship where a therapist will support us to find new ways of being, enabling positive changes and offering emphathic support. Imagine offering these stronger more genuine and loving parts of ourselves in our engagement with others. Imagine focusing on the positive aspects of ourselves and being able to forgive ourselves and others for their vulnerabilities. These aspects of life change. could be beneficial not only to the individual but for society as a whole. There is so much unresolved pain and anxiety in our society leading to depression and physical health dilemmas such as somatic pain, obesity, alcohol and other drug related disease. A healthy nutrient filled diet and cardiovascular, strengthening and flexibility focused exercises are essential for the body and it is recommended that all of us partake in balanced appropriate health regimes. It should also be noted that our physical body is the vehicle that carries around the rest of what makes us who we are. It is just as important that we take care of our psychological health and spiritual connection, whatever that may be, so that we may fully appreciate how wonderful life can be on a long term basis. I am a strong believer that the mind body and spirit are integrated and that when one part is out of balance all parts will suffer. Take care of the whole self with gentle determination. My personal philosophy is to push up to the boundaries when required, ask for help when needed, know my limits and honour the journey.
Live your Bliss
Mairead

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