There’s nothing better than the reset that happens when the calendar flips back to January 1, and the new year brings a fresh start. Yet, we never really start completely over, do we? We bring pieces of the previous year with us: you might still have certain feelings or patterns from 2021 that carry over. Relationships remain the same, despite the calendar change. We still have the same dreams we did in the year previous, even as we try to set new goals.
As we perpetually seek out happier, healthier lives, starting therapy in 2022 is a step in the right direction. It’s a way to align your life with your vision for who you want to be. With a therapist’s support, you’ll explore your past and present to set yourself up for a stellar 2022. Not sure if therapy is right for you? We’ve collected 8 reasons to begin seeing a therapist in 2022 so you can have the best year possible.
1. Process through two years of trauma and change
While 2021 certainly did not hold the same level of change as 2020, it was still unprecedented in many ways. 2020 brought around a literal global crisis — and we don’t recover quickly from that! While we were in the long run of the pandemic, the visible global inequities, and the racial injustice movement, we were just trying to survive. We’re only now unwinding from the impact of 2020, only now letting our guard down. We can now exhale the breath we’ve been holding tightly in our lungs.
We’re also still adjusting to the changes in daily life that came with the pandemic. While many of us have been working from home for nearly two years, we might not yet know the impact of this change. We’re only now understanding how isolation impacted us. 2022 means that we can finally slow down, without the extreme stressors of the past two years, and reflect on what just happened in our community and across the world.
Working with a therapist to process through how your life changed across both 2020 and 2021 will help you reintegrate with a way of living that’s authentic for you. Reflecting on the changes you experienced, the new ways you learned to socialize, the things that were important to you will teach you about who you are and what values are most essential in your life. Having the support of a therapist means having a non-judgemental, compassionate space to verbalize what you went through — and where you’re headed.
2. Take a look at your relationships
It’s good practice to regularly check in with yourself about your relationships with friends, family members, and partners. Therapists have extensive knowledge and experience with relationship dynamics, attachment styles, and communication skills. Many therapists highly value the role that relationships have in our lives and their enormous impact on our mental health. Therapists who specialize in psychodynamic therapy modalities base a lot of their work within relationships, seeing them as central to living.
Your therapist may ask you questions about your relationships to get a sense of your support system. It’s natural to have both healthy and unhealthy relationships across this support system — but there are ways to enhance your relationships to make sure that they only bring happiness, joy, and meaning to you.
When thinking about your relationship with someone, ask yourself:
- How do I feel after spending an afternoon with this person?
- Do I look forward to seeing them? Why or why not?
- What are the things that I really like about this person? The things I don’t like about them?
- What happens when I put boundaries on this person?
If you find that your answer to one of those questions hints at either an imbalanced relationship or a toxic relationship, a therapist can help you better understand what’s going on. They’ll teach you how to set boundaries or communicate effectively, all the while providing you with emotional support.
3. Let go of your anxieties or worries
Do you find yourself constantly worrying about things, even if they’re little in the grand scheme of things? Or do you catch yourself checking and double checking that you did something, like shutting the fridge door or turning off your car? Anxiety has a way of making even the little things seem like big ones and undermining your self-confidence. That’s because anxiety changes a person’s thought patterns, making them cognitive distortions.
Cognitive distortions of warped views of situations or people (including yourself!) that do not have evidence or rationality behind them. They’re especially common in mental health conditions like depression or anxiety and often impact daily routines or relationships. Here are some examples of common cognitive distortions:
- Overgeneralization is when you consider one instance of something happening the general rule for how the world works. Say it rains on your way to work, leaving you drenched in rainwater. You might think to yourself, “Why is it always raining here? Why am I constantly soaked by the weather? The weather always sucks!”
- Catastrophizing is when you think ahead to the future and all you can predict are terrible, harmful, and unlikely situations. When you’re first starting to date someone, you might have the thought, “What if she doesn’t like me? And then she’s going to break up with me and tell all of our friends how annoying I am. Then I’ll have no friends and have to move to another city. Then I’ll be broke and lose my health insurance!” This thought is not based in reality or in evidence, it’s simply your anxiety influencing how you read situations.
- All-or-nothing thinking is a cognitive distortion where you see everything as binary, without an in-between. For example, you might decide that you hate all books, even though you might just hate some books or some genres of books. Conversely, you might have a delicious bite of potato bake and decide that all of your meals will now include potato. Now imagine those thinking patterns when it comes to relationships and you’ll understand how harmful this cognitive distortion could be!
Going to therapy is a highly effective way of untangling your thoughts from these cognitive distortions. Through therapy modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), you’ll learn how to identify harmful thought patterns and divert your thoughts towards healthy patterns that lead to feeling good emotionally and having healthy habits. Your therapist may also teach you different mindfulness or meditation exercises. This way, you can leave your anxiety behind and feel more relaxed each day.
4. Reconnect with your sense of hope
Perhaps you’re feeling down and your motivation is nowhere in sight. This isn’t a completely abnormal feeling, as we all have bad days, even bad weeks. However, when you start to feel this way quite often and don’t see a way to feel better, you might be feeling a sense of hopelessness.
This feeling of hopelessness is common for individuals who suffer from chronic illness or are stuck in situations where they don’t have much power. It’s like no matter what they do, they can’t make a difference in their situation. Even if they exert themselves to the end of their strength, nothing will change. This leads them to think, “So why even try?”
Not only will talking through your difficult and complex emotions with a therapist help you identify the reasons why you feel this way, but you’ll also learn several strategies to become “unstuck.” Your therapist may take you through a values clarification exercise, collaborate with you on a step-by-step plan to get back into your life, or teach you new coping skills. Having someone to lean on in times of hopelessness means that you aren’t alone. A therapist is just the right person for the job.
5. Adapt through change and transitions
If you’re starting something new — or ending something old — you might find yourself a bit disoriented with all the change. Therapy is an excellent way to enhance your reaction to the adjustment. By going through major life transitions intentionally and with careful consideration as to the emotional toll they will take, you have the opportunity to learn more about yourself and come out on the other side with resilience.
Some examples of major life changes include:
- Moving to a new city or a new apartment
- Adopting a pet
- Becoming a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or godparent
- Undergoing medical treatment or experiencing bodily changes
- Falling in love or moving to the next step of your relationship
- Breaking up with a partner, friend, or family member
- Coming out or sharing a previously unknown identity with your social circle
Anything that makes a huge difference in your daily life is worth unpacking with your therapist. Your therapist can prepare you for a major change if you start working with them before the change happens, or they can help you reflect on the transition by asking you guiding questions to encourage introspection. Change is a great time to learn more about how you cope — because most people feel stressed out by change, it’s also a good time to practice your coping skills (or build new ones!).
6. Start a new habit — or break an old habit
Habits are notoriously difficult to build — or to break. Because our brains become so used to our habits, it not only becomes a behavioral change but also a neurological one. How daunting! And that’s not to mention the emotional impact that new routines bring.
Whether you’re looking to start a healthier lifestyle or stop harmful behaviors, a therapist can help you make and carry out a plan. Therapists who specialize in behavioral therapy often help clients who suffer from substance abuse and addiction. They compassionately encourage clients to cease the harmful behavior and replace it with a healthier version. They’ll also help clients gain insight into why they began that habit in the first place. This approach in therapy is not only for addictions but for any harmful behavior that’s become a habit.
Therapists who practice solution-focused therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) help their clients identify the issues in their lives and take the necessary steps towards fixing those issues. This is an effective therapy approach for those who want to work on certain behaviors. When taking on this huge task, it’s best to have the support of a professional.
7. Find career clarity
One of the top reasons that people stress out is because of their careers, jobs, and workplaces. There are so many ways that work can stress us out: deadlines, difficult assignments or projects, toxic coworkers, difficulties with a manager. We also depend on our work for our livelihoods, so we can’t just quit! All of these elements come with high expectations, which usually exacerbate the impact of perfectionism that already rules your daily life.
Your therapist can help you identify the areas of work that would benefit from stress reduction. They’ll help you find healthy ways to communicate with others and set boundaries — boundaries with yourself and with your colleagues. They’ll give you a space to vent or to reflect on what went right and what went wrong. They’ll also stop you from ragging on yourself and instead encourage you to practice self-compassion.
Career and school therapists can also help you figure out your career plan. Many therapists specialize in working with students or young adults who aren’t sure what they want to do with their working lives or how to build a career. This additional support can go far, as you’ll build confidence and feel empowered to take your career in the direction that you want.
8. Write your own narrative
Owning your narrative means feeling in control of your life, as opposed to living each day without meaning, fulfillment, or direction. By writing your own narrative, you’ll learn what’s important to you, who is important to you, and what you need to flourish.
If you want to look back at your past, many therapists specialize in narrative therapy — a kind of storytelling that’s effective at building meaning, especially after adverse or traumatic situations. And when you want to look into the year ahead of you, your therapist will collaborate with you on a vision board or encourage you to take charge.
Your therapist will affirm who you are and how you show up in the world, an essential part of your narrative. Most importantly, your therapist will be your number one cheerleader. Many therapists wholeheartedly believe in the concept of “unconditional positive regard.” Unconditional positive regard is the acceptance and non judgement of a person, no matter what they do or what they say. Your therapist will challenge you to become a better person — they may bring up ideas that aren’t what you want to hear or they may point out difficult patterns. But they are always on your side and they will help you reach towards a bright, happy future.
If you’re looking for an excellent therapist, Zencare helps you find just that. With our many filters, you can narrow your search to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can also view therapist introductory videos and read about their work to find a therapist whose personality, approach, and availability is right for you. We wish you the best in the new year!