Are you putting off therapy because you can’t seem to fit it into your schedule?
One of the most common objections to starting therapy is how to fit it into an already-crowded schedule. I get it - the demands on our time are now higher than ever, and most of us are already sacrificing sleep to get it all done.
And yet, with few exceptions, most of us wake up each morning trying the same solutions to the same problems, over and over again. We acknowledge how overwhelming it all is, and yet do little to change it.
Therapy usually comes last on our priority list.
We pay attention to the the things that make the most "noise": Between all the squeaky wheels we have to do with, our own suffering is generally the quietest. We feel we can continue to manage this on our own, that if we let anything else slide for a little while, we will regret it later. We take care of everyone else first.
Or, we are afraid to admit failure. We don't want anyone to think we've hit "rock bottom". (For the record, going to therapy is not failure. It is a sign of strength.)
So, we continue to stay stuck in our old patterns. Struggling to get it all done, feeling overwhelmed, fighting with our spouses or avoiding home because it's just too much to deal with.
Something has to change.
If you're really committed to something and fully understand its value, you will make time for it.
That's why we put exercise, eating right, and reading self-help books above going to therapy. We make time for hobbies, for doctor visits, and for other commitments that come up. Yes, these things ARE important - but your mental health and relationships are important too.
How to make time for therapy:
1. Remember that therapy does not have to be forever. Look at your schedule and decide what can be put on "pause" for a few months. Decide what can be less important. When you return to your other priorities, you will be able to be fully invested and less stressed, making you more efficient and effective.
2. Find a time that is least likely for you to want/need to reschedule. Early morning, just after work, during a lunch break... only you know what will work best for you. Sometimes weekends seem easy, however, remember that your Saturday activities might be interrupted by your appointment.
3. Make a weekly appointment that can become part of your regular routine. I find that people make the most progress this way. Here are some of the creative solutions my clients have found:
- Scheduling couples therapy during school hours, so as not to need regular babysitting
- Taking a long lunch and working an extra hour at another time, or using PTO
- Going in to work an hour late, leaving an hour early
- Working from home one day or half day a week (thus having a more flexible schedule that day), or doing four 10-hour days.
When my clients are feeling better, I often have a conversation with them to reflect on the process of therapy and how far they've come.
Most often, I hear some version of: "I wish I had done this sooner." "I can't believe I waited so long to try this. It's not as scary as I thought." "I didn't realize how valuable this time would be. It's so worth it."
Don't let your future self look back with regret. If you are struggling in any way to make your life what you want it to be, take care of yourself. You are important.
(For more information on talking to your boss, check out this article: https://hbr.org/2018/03/when-you-need-to-take-time-off-work-for-mental-health-reasons)