What We Can Learn From Plants
Have you ever seen a plant thrive that is only in the soil for one hour each week?
Likely not, and we know this is because plants require the stability of roots and the nourishment of soil in order to thrive.
So why do we believe that one hour of counselling each week is enough to improve our mental health?
Why Counselling is Not Enough
Like plants, we need nourishment and somewhere to put down roots. If left alone and unattended to, we can whither.
I believe that putting all of our hope in our once a week meetings with a Counsellor or Therapist is equivalent to expecting a plant to thrive when it only visits the soil once a week.
Please don't misunderstand me, counselling is wonderful. In fact, I am a big fan of it, otherwise I wouldn't be working in the mental health field. But counselling in and of itself is not enough. Your Counsellor may make you feel great during your sessions, but what about when the session is over? What about 3 am on Monday morning when you have insomnia and your thoughts are racing? What then?
In order for us to truly thrive, we need to be planted in our own soil that we are ultimately responsible for. I believe we need to be equipped to be our own Counsellor. We need the skills to be able to nourish ourselves each and every day.
Meeting with a Counsellor can give us direction and a much needed boost, but cannot be our everything.
Think of counselling as the fertilizer. It adds extra enrichment to the soil, helping the plant to grow faster and stronger. But fertilizer cannot replace the soil. We need to surround ourselves with soil so that we can see long-lasting improvement in our mental well-being.
How Do We Develop Our Own Soil?
We can develop our own soil in a few simple ways:
1. Build our toolbox:
Find the mental health tools that work best for you. Glean them during your counselling sessions, find them on the internet, read books, listen to podcasts, talk to friends, and make a list. Write them down, plug them into your phone, keep them handy. Have these as your go-to toolbox for when you are struggling. This is what Mindjoy is all about, helping everyone build their own toolbox.
2. Make mental health a priority:
Focus on your mental health not only on your bad days, but also on your good. Choose to be proactive with your mental health.
3. Take time to check-in with yourself:
One of the biggest contributors to poor mental health is not taking the time to ask ourselves how we are doing. We easily get trapped in problematic thinking that leads to depressed and anxious emotions, sometimes without even realizing it. So, check-in with yourself. Think about your thought life. Are you trapped in negative thinking cycle? If so, then pull out your toolbox and work towards change. One step at a time.
4. Make self-care a habit:
Nourish your plant! Plants need us to till the soil and provide them with ample sunlight and water. We need the same! We need to exercise and move around. We need to get sunshine and vitamin D. We need to stay hydrated. We need rest. And we need to have fun.
Let's all implement these four strategies so that we can improve our green thumbs and take care of our mental health. Because we, like plants, need some tender care.