How do I start healing?

Starting the healing process can feel overwhelming, but taking small steps each day can help you move forward. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

Make self-care a priority

Practicing regular self-care helps manage stress and renew your mind and body. Get enough sleep, eat nourishing foods, move your body, and make time for activities you enjoy. Set aside at least 30 minutes each day for self-care.

Connect with supportive people

Isolation can worsen emotional wounds. Spend time with people who listen, validate your feelings, and remind you of your inner light. Join a support group to connect with others going through similar challenges.

Express your emotions

Bottling up emotions often backfires. Find healthy ways to process sadness, anger, fear and other feelings, like talking to a friend or therapist, journaling, making art or exercising. Accept and release, rather than judging, your emotions.

Challenge negative thoughts

Unhelpful thoughts like “I’m unlovable” or “I’ll never get better” hinder healing. Notice negative self-talk and intentionally replace it with more realistic, compassionate thoughts. You are worthy of love and you have the power to heal.

Forgive yourself and others

Holding onto resentment over past hurts or mistakes keeps you stuck. Forgiveness is a process – be patient with yourself. Start by acknowledging your feelings and sending forgiveness from your heart, even if others don’t change.

Set healthy boundaries

Protect your energy by limiting time with toxic people, saying no to unnecessary obligations, and creating space from stressful situations. Tune into your needs and don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

Try therapy or counseling

A skilled therapist provides guidance tailored to your unique situation. Talk therapy can help you gain insight into the roots of your pain, process complex emotions and trauma, and overcome self-defeating patterns.

Explore mind-body practices

Yoga, mindfulness meditation, tai chi and other practices calm the nervous system and help connect you to the present moment. Regular mind-body work can enhance emotional resilience and well-being.

Spend time in nature

Being in natural settings surrounded by trees, flowers, mountains or water promotes inner peace. Take breaks from electronics to go for walks, listen to birdsong or sit under the stars. Let nature soothe your spirit.

Volunteer in your community

Contributing your time and energy to help others gets you outside of your own head and gives your life meaning. Look for volunteer opportunities related to causes you care about.

Read books on healing

Inspirational books and memoirs can validate your experience, offer fresh perspectives and provide strength for the path ahead. Some great options are “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” by Susan Anderson and “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown.

Practice gratitude

Cultivating gratitude shifts attention away from pain and focuses your mind on blessings. Make a daily list of 3-5 things you’re grateful for – from warm sunshine to loving friends.

Be patient with the process

Healing is a journey with ups and downs, not a quick linear path. Some days will feel lighter, other days heavier. Meet yourself where you’re at and don’t give up. With time and intention, you will make progress.

When to seek professional help

If pain or depression make daily functioning difficult, or you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, seek help right away. Symptoms like extreme hopelessness, changes in sleep and appetite, and social withdrawal signal it’s time to reach out for mental health support.

Types of mental health professionals

Type Description
Psychiatrist Medical doctor who can prescribe medication and provide therapy
Psychologist Provides counseling and therapy, with PhD or PsyD degree
Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) Has master’s in social work (MSW) and additional clinical training
Licensed professional counselor (LPC) Holds master’s degree and completes supervised clinical hours

Questions to ask a potential therapist

Interview a few therapists to find the best fit. Important questions include:

  • What is your approach to treatment?
  • Do you have experience treating my specific issues/condition?
  • Are you taking new clients, and do you accept my insurance?
  • How much is your fee, and is there a sliding scale?
  • How long are your sessions?
  • How often would we meet?
  • Do you also provide between-session phone coaching?

Types of therapy

Common therapeutic approaches include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Identifies negative thought and behavior patterns and develops skills to challenge them
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): Teaches mindfulness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance skills
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): Uses bilateral eye movement to process trauma and negative emotions
  • Interpersonal therapy: Improves communication skills and relationships with others
  • Psychodynamic therapy: Probes unconscious thoughts, emotions and childhood experiences that impact current functioning

Medication options

A psychiatrist may prescribe medications like:

  • SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro) to treat depression and anxiety
  • SNRIs (Effexor, Cymbalta) that target norepinephrine and serotonin
  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin) for anxiety, but risk of addiction
  • Mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder
  • Atypical antipsychotics (Abilify, Seroquel) for conditions like schizophrenia

Medication can provide symptom relief in the short term. For long-lasting transformation, combine with psychotherapy for optimal results.

Alternative and holistic therapies

Some additional approaches to boost healing are:

  • Art therapy: Uses creative activities like drawing, painting, collage to process emotions
  • Equine therapy: Caring for horses builds confidence, responsibility and empathy
  • Music therapy: Playing instruments and songwriting express feelings
  • Acupuncture: Stimulates specific body points to rebalance energy flow
  • Yoga and tai chi: Blend physical movement, breathing and meditation
  • Wilderness therapy: Outdoor adventures and living in nature cultivate inner strength

Lifestyle changes that support healing

In addition to professional treatment, make these healthy life adjustments:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean protein
  • Exercise 30+ minutes daily – walk, swim, dance, stretch, garden
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, drugs, processed foods
  • Reduce social media and news consumption
  • Sleep 7-9 hours per night and go to bed early
  • Drink more water, herbal tea, less soda/juice
  • Practice relaxation techniques – deep breathing, visualization
  • Spend more time outdoors and around nature
  • Listen to uplifting music and motivate podcasts
  • Join a support group or class – yoga, meditation, art

What does the healing process look like?

Healing is an ongoing journey with ups and downs. Be patient and caring with yourself. Key phases may include:

  1. Acknowledging pain: Accepting a problem exists and needs to be addressed
  2. Processing emotions: Feeling anger, sadness, fear – letting pain surface
  3. Gaining insight: Understanding root causes of issues and self-defeating patterns
  4. Releasing the past: Forgiving yourself and others, letting go of resentment
  5. Envisioning your future: Building a positive vision for your life aligned with your values
  6. Growing resilience: Cultivating self-care, healthy coping strategies and loving relationships
  7. Embracing life: Fully engaging in work, hobbies, passion projects – living with joy and meaning

How long does healing take?

There is no definite timeline for healing because everyone’s experience is unique. Be compassionate with yourself. Trust that your struggles and inner work serve a purpose, even if you can’t yet see the bigger picture.

That said, you may notice progress within weeks or months if you devote time each day to self-care practices, therapy, reading, journaling and other healing modalities.

Healing from significant traumas like abuse, violence or loss of a loved one can take years as you process each layer of pain. With consistent effort, the intensity of hurtles lessens and feelings of inner peace return.

Healing is not a passive process. By actively choosing healthy coping strategies and accessing support, you move forward one step at a time.

How do I find motivation to keep going?

On difficult days when you feel your energy falter, give yourself compassion while also drawing on these sources of motivation:

  • Inspiring role models. Read biographies of people who overcame adversity.
  • Supportive community. Rely on encouraging friends, therapists and support groups.
  • Spiritual practices. Meditation, prayer, nature and yoga revive your spirit.
  • Helping others. Volunteer work boosts oxytocin, purpose and mood.
  • Mantras and affirmations. “I am strong.” “This too shall pass.” “I am worthy of love.”
  • Uplifting media. Watch positive TedTalks and listen to motivational playlists.
  • Physical movement. Walks, stretching or dancing release feel-good endorphins.
  • Inspiring vision. Reflect on how healing will improve your life and relationships.

On days when you feel depleted, be gentle with yourself. But keep sight of your vision and take small steps forward. Each effort brings you closer to vibrant well-being.

What happens if I get stuck in anger or resentment?

Anger and blame are normal reactions to injustice or mistreatment. However, staying mired in resentment hurts you more than anyone else. Try these strategies to process anger in a healthy way:

  • Vent feelings in a safe space – private journaling or talking to a counselor.
  • Release anger physically through exercise, sports, stomping or pillow punching.
  • Distract yourself with upbeat music, comedy or spending time in nature.
  • Forgive the other person through prayer, meditation or letter writing. Focus on your own growth.
  • Set boundaries if someone is harming you. Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Change your inner dialogue from judgment to understanding. “Holding this grudge hurts me. I deserve peace.”

Anger warns us that something needs to change. Honor your emotions, then redirect your energy to self-care, helping others and creating the life you desire.

How can I stop feeling like a victim?

Trauma or abuse can leave you feeling powerless and defined by your wounds. To overcome a victim mentality:

  • Own your agency. You have authority over your decisions, actions and attitude.
  • Rewrite your story. “This experience shaped me but does not define me.”
  • Shift perspective. Ask how this experience made you wiser, kinder and stronger.
  • Help others. Use your experience to support abuse survivors.
  • Practice self-compassion. Talk to yourself as a caring friend.
  • Seek empowering role models who overcame adversity.
  • Celebrate qualities like resilience, courage and persistence.
  • Envision your brightest future. What meaningful goals excite you?

Healing reconnects you to your inner power. You can decide what your story will be today, tomorrow and years from now.

What are signs I’m making progress in my healing?

Signs your healing efforts are slowly transforming you include:

  • Feeling more optimistic and hopeful
  • Having energy for interests and relationships again
  • Setting boundaries with yourself and others
  • Speaking up for your needs
  • Feeling comfortable alone
  • Acting from love, not fear
  • Crying less, laughing more
  • Feeling gratitude, rather than scarcity
  • Experiencing inner calm and acceptance

Healing is a spiral, not linear. You’ll have hard days again. But with each cycle, you move forward with more wisdom and freedom. Have faith in your unfolding growth.

When is it time to stop therapy?

Consistent therapy provides ongoing support for deep healing. However, you may feel ready to taper off regular sessions if you:

  • Have developed healthy coping strategies
  • Feel empowered to handle challenges
  • Are fully engaged in work, hobbies, relationships
  • Have significantly less depression and anxiety
  • No longer cry or vent every session
  • Notice your therapist seems bored or repeats themselves

Discuss reducing your sessions with your therapist to maintain occasional check-ins. Be aware symptoms may reappear during periods of stress. Healing has no finish line, and you can return to therapy any time.


The healing journey requires patience, courage and compassion. Release expectations and meet yourself where you’re at. With time, intention and support, you will move forward.

On difficult days, remember your strength. On joyful days, embrace hope. Healing is not perfection – it is choosing light again and again in a thousand tiny moments. Your growth unfolds, even when unseen. Have faith in the light within. You deserve to heal.

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