As we enter the new year of 2022, the common practice of New Year’s Resolutions may look a bit different. Undoubtedly, many will flock to the gym or cut carbs or begin writing their Great American Novel in an attempt to start the year off on what they believe to be “the right foot.” However, given the irrefutably overwhelming nature of the past few years, this year I believe the only goal should be to emphasize and prioritize self-care. In 2022, find your therapy.
Anyone who personally knows me knows how open I am about therapy. I’ve never understood the stigma surrounding something so natural, humane and immensely beneficial. I started talking to a therapist right before my sophomore year of college and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So many of my friends have also started their own therapeutic journeys and many have been on their’s for years. In the past, therapy was associated with uncontrollable mental illness. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, there is not one person alive today that would not benefit from essentially having an unbiased third party to talk to.
I encourage you to redefine therapy. Instead of a comfortable couch and a glasses and sweater-clad psychologist scribbling on a notepad, envision a zoom meeting with two cups of coffee and a 45-minute conversation. Put yourself in a position where instead of the outdated, stereotypical dialogue like “and how does that make you feel?” you are encouraged to view complicated situations with a healthier perspective and to re-establish boundaries with yourself and those around you.
Having said that, therapy is also much more commonplace in today’s day and age. Recognizing that I am extremely fortunate to have parents that are capable of paying for my therapist that is not covered by insurance, it is extremely feasible to find a plethora of equally helpful resources for different monetary demographics. Online companies like BetterHelp or TalkSpace, among others, offer different payment plans and opportunities to get financial assistance. Beyond talk therapy, there are so many additional therapeutic practices that can even be completely free. As the pandemic uncertainty continues, it is also understandable to stray from an in-person therapy session. Thankfully, many, if not all, therapists have remote opportunities through virtual formats.
Delving deeper, therapeutic practices come in all shapes and sizes. For me, self-care means much more than the conversations I engage in every once and a while with my therapist. Therapy can and should mean having an effective morning and nighttime routine, listening to music that boosts your serotonin and integrating activities into your life that exist for the sole purpose of making you feel good.
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is to appreciate the time we have. I mean this not in a morbid, “the clock is ticking” type way, but instead that we must do our best to honor the mere ability to sip cocktails with friends or read a book in a public café. Especially at the University of Michigan, I made it a priority to soak in every second spent in The Big House this year and intend on doing the same at every basketball game I attend. As the cliché saying goes: “We never truly appreciate something until it’s gone.”
The inability to enjoy the outside world throughout the rollercoaster ride of COVID-19 has been a brutal reminder and an unpleasant wake-up call to take absolutely nothing for granted. Again, therapy does not need to mean this conventional yet antiquated conception of a couch and a legal pad. Therapy is whatever you require to check in with and ensure you are being kind to yourself. Influencers and apps alike have reinforced the importance of making goals for the New Year far less focused on loss or gain and instead on the wonderful amalgamation of good and bad right in front of you. Focus instead on the prospect of human possibility.
Therapy may mean that you must cut some toxicity out of your life or make decisions that seem impossible. But it must be an essential part of everyone’s life, especially as we continue to navigate this turbulent, uncharted territory. I reject the concept that each year is a completely brand new opportunity to sink or swim. That is far too much pressure to put on any person. Instead, conceptualize 2022 as a coloring book. Each day is a page, and while certain outlined images may be decided for you, you have the opportunity to choose from whatever array of colors is at your disposal and make each day a unique picture. To me, that starts with crushing the stigma and finding whatever therapy means to you.
Jess D’Agostino is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.