Why Use Self Help Groups?
For some people this is the ideal form of therapy. Be that just for psychological support, a feeling of not being alone, or even for practical 'how to' help. What better place to get all the information you need than from someone who has already gone through exactly what you are currently going through! They've likely got months if not years more experience, and can greatly shorten the process you would otherwise have to endure.
Support groups are not however the same as counseling. Think of them more as help from an expert friend than a 'professional service'.
They are typically run by the people within the group, everyone helping everyone else. Meetings are normally on a regular basis - once a week is most common. Although others only meet when the need arises.
It is usually OK to take along a friend or family member, but do ask first as this may not apply to all groups. Some find it easier to take someone along, others prefer to go alone - it often depends on the reason for attending and how 'in the know' the people around you are.
Bear in mind that talking in groups does not come easily to everyone, and introverts are not required to suddenly become great orators. Listening to what others have to say is just as important a way of taking part as speaking. So don't feel you have to prepare a speech or feel pressured into sharing information you consider private, and don't not attend because you think you have to speak - you don't!
Also remember that this kind of group can be something you do in addition to talking with a professional or counselor - just discuss it with your counselor first. They can also help you find the right kind of group near to you.
Support groups work for a lot of people, so give them a try - and don't give up after just one session, it can take a while to feel comfortable with new people and for them to feel comfortable with you too. So make an effort to go a few times before you make a final decision as to whether the group is right for you or not.
A Little Exercise Could Be The Only Therapy You Need
We all feel down sometimes, but studies have shown that one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy mental attitude is simply to take a little exercise.
It does NOT mean you have to join a gym!
A little exercise could be as simple as just getting up from your chair and walking around your own garden for a couple of minutes. Being outdoors just adds to the beneficial effect. Ideally, depending on age and fitness levels, you would go a slightly longer walk - start your day every day with a 30 minutes walk in your neighborhood and not only will you feel so much better, more positive and set up for the day, but you can also start to get to know more of the people in your neighborhood as you bump into morning jogger and people walking their dogs.
Low energy levels, negativity and depression affect all ages groups though, so if you're younger or simply fitter and want an even more powerful effect, then weight bearing exercises not only improve your strength and overall health further but really get those happy 'endorphins' going in your brain. A workout program that actually works, done just 2 or 3 times a week can make a tremendous difference to your health. You'll soon be doing exercises like this:-
Again, a gym is not necessary. You can create an amazing, effective workout with just household objects and the things around you. Use a park bench for raised press ups, use an old football for core muscle balances. Or just buy some very basic equipment, you can do a lot of simple workouts using just a dumbbell - it does not have to be complicated or expensive. Yet the results can still be profound in terms of your physical health, and even more importantly your mental health and happiness.
So next time you're feeling a 'little blue' or 'down in the dumps', do the one thing that your body is probably telling you is the last thing you should do - and get up, move, and get a little exercise. Walk, dance, ride a bike or pump some iron and you'll quickly forget that you were ever feeling down in the first place.References
APA: The Exercise Effect http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx