The goal of therapy is to give you the tools and strategies for navigating whatever is going on in your life—from stress or relationship issues to managing a mental health diagnosis. But a therapist isn’t going to just hand over some life-changing advice and call it a day.
“Most of the work of therapy happens outside the consultation room,” licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF. “The best progress happens when you apply what you’ve learned outside that setting, in your real life.”
The good news: This means that you have the power to enact real change in the way you think, behave, and cope on a daily basis. But you need to put in the work.
“There are 168 hours in a week,” licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells SELF. “It would be terribly arrogant on the part of a therapist to believe that your one-hour intervention will suffice to keep your clients mentally healthy for the rest of the 167 hours.”
But, we get it, therapy isn’t always accessible to everyone. So, while this isn’t meant to be a substitute for professional help, we asked mental health professionals to share the most impactful and least intimidating strategies that they typically give to their patients. If you’re looking for mental health advice that you can start acting on immediately, try some of these tactics:
1. Actually try writing your thoughts down.
Venting is awesome for a reason—it helps you get out your frustrations. That’s one of the reasons why it can be helpful to keep a mental health journal, David Klow, licensed marriage and family therapist, founder of Chicago’s Skylight Counseling Center and author of the upcoming book You Are Not Crazy: Love Letters from Your Therapist, tells SELF.