Why does self-care often fall at the end of our list of priorities? Why do we postpone taking care of our emotional wellbeing? With only 20 days until the New Year, many of us may have a vague sense of how we would like to feel in 2018. New Year is often a time when we are prompted to address our approach to self-care, in one way or another.

Seeing a therapist to address emotional challenges is one facet of self-care that is often put off for months, or even years. Like exercise, therapy can become a part of your self-care regime. As the evenings grow darker and the winter months kick in, unfortunately it might be easy to find a million reasons to put off that search for a therapist. As a psychotherapist, I encourage my clients to consider their self-care all year round. As humans we are psychologically primed to start new behaviours and stop old behaviours, so why wait until New Year to put your wellbeing first?

Waiting to address emotional concerns or stress can lead to worsening of symptoms and a decreased ability to cope. You may begin to have difficulty controlling events in your life, and activities or tasks that were once routine may begin to appear more and more challenging. When considering seeing a therapist, think of it not as a task that will add to your burden of things to do. Seeing a therapist is quite the contrary. You will be taking a huge emotional load off your back by sharing your struggles, rather than trying to manage life difficulties on your own.

Below are a few reasons why people don’t consider therapy.

“Counselling is for the weak or mentally ill”

This is a common misconception. The very opposite is true: in recognising when you need support you are longing to meet your emotional needs. It’s a sign of maturity, self-awareness and inner strength to be able to ask for help. Therapy provides a way for us to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us.

“If I talk about my problems I may fall apart or make things worse”

Examining previously suppressed or repressed concerns can dissipate pains and hurts, and help you gain a better understanding of your problems. Therapy provides a forum for exploring choices, which produces better decision making.

“I just don’t have the time”

There is no denying that many individuals lead busy and hectic lives, juggling various responsibilities such as family, work, and leisure activities. Care commitments and long working hours can all contribute to you denying yourself the opportunity to invest in your wellbeing and self-care. Another variation on this popular concern is many individuals wrongly believe they are wasting the therapist's time and that others have greater needs.

If you’ve thought that seeing a therapist might be a good idea, avoid deliberating on the thought too long. Hesitation can lead to developing reasons and excuses to avoid or postpone your self-care. Unfortunately, the digital age has played a role in blurring the lines between home, work and leisure with individuals remaining logged on. You deserve the time and space to allow yourself to explore your challenges, burdens and worries, even if only during the time and within the confines of a therapy session. When you put your needs first you no longer have to cruise through life, repressing your feelings into the shadow spaces of your soul. 

With the support of a therapist your needs can be addressed. Not everyone “needs” to be in therapy but there is no better time than the present for those who have considered it. You might be amazed at the healing effects of allowing yourself the time to let go of what you’ve been holding on to.  Every element of your life is special and unique. There has never been another you, which is why it is important to trust that “you” matter. Therapy can prevent overload burnout, reduce the negative effects of stress and help you to refocus. It is not selfish, over-indulgent or inconsiderate. As a society, we should never be ashamed of doing what we need to do to be emotionally healthy.  It is important as individuals we maintain a healthy relationship with ourselves and therapy doesn’t have to be a last resort. Self-care is more than just a popular buzzword: it's about honouring and giving yourself the permission to be you.