Mental health after toxic relationships
Over the last two years I have been on a ‘healing joruney’. Play therpy, art therapy, somatic therapy and CBT. For mental health month I want to give you some tangible tops I learned that we can all apply immediately to feel better about ourselves and improve our overall mental wellbeing (and most of the tips cost nothing!)
Self compassion- when I was getting out of my relationship the number one thing I did was bash myself. I wanted to leave for years and fought my intuition to stay in it. Every day I stayed past my gut telling me to leave was a day I beat myself up over. Needless to say, beating myself up did nothing for me. I had no idea what emotional, financial and sexual abuse looked like in relationships and sadly I became an expert after seeing an abuse counselor and learned thats what was going on. Having self compassion helped me get through that time in my life without hating myself. The mantra my friend and master Yogi Saska Neil taught me was, “Everyday in every way you are better and better by Gods grace” It helped me through that time and it stopped the negative self talk. I had it on sticky notes everywhere and set the mantra as a phone reminder!
Self care - For me self-care looks like alone time, spin classes, walks with friends, fixing my bed as soon as I get up, or mending my clothes. Those task seem simple but as a giver I consistently showed up for other people and neglected myself. doing things for yourself is not selfish, its self preservation. Making commitments to yourself raises your self-esteem.
Talk that sh*t out - Nothing will ever beat therapy or counseling. Whether you go to a clinical psychologist, a yoga retreat or talk to someone trusted in your faith group, it can all be helpful. Therapy and counseling is a way to work out intellectually and emotionally the inner workings of our minds. I did a combination of bible study and therapy. Make sure that the people you are talking to are relatable, compassionate and understanding of your past and also in line with what goals you were trying to get out of your therapy sessions. It's best to go in with a goal. Talking is great but therapy is even better when you have a goal you're working towards, like not repeating a certain relationship pattern, learning how to speak up for yourself, or asserting yourself at work.
Own up - Not blaming myself or any other survivors for any abuse, but I did have to see where I had forsaken my own needs and put others' needs and feelings in front of my own and how that was wrong. I had to own up to codependency, lack of self-worth and also old ideas about relationships that were modeled in television and in my home life growing up. Owning up to where you are wrong helps with self realization. Confessing to your innermost self that you need to change away from default behaviors that don’t serve us is positive and helps with healing.
Take time alone - this one is the easiest and hardest for me at the same time. Everyone wants love, companionship and intimacy. Since leaving a toxic relationship two years ago I've been single for about 10 months of that. Taking time to get to know myself again is easier done single, without the distraction of dating, or sex! I know it won't last forever so I'm really using the time to get as much done in my career, and my personal life so I can teach my daughter how to show up for herself like I never could.
These five tips for self-care can be used at any point in your life. There's always room for emotional and spiritual growth. The more we learn about ourselves, the better and more well-equipped we are to handle what life throws at us. I hope you can use these tips and apply them to your daily lives!
Stay safe my friends! xoxo Val