The self-help category was one of the fastest-growing genres in the publishing world in 2015, and the genre continues to grow as people realize that they can be their own best advocate in their journey of personal growth and development. While the principles and practices of psychiatry and traditional medicine are still very much in use today, there has been an increase in awareness that changing our thinking and behavior is something we can do alone (or with the help of a coach or similarly-minded support group), and doing so can have a significant, lasting, and demonstrable impact on our lives.
People also seem to have an increased awareness that happiness and personal satisfaction are things found and developed within oneself, and not, instead, gleaned from money, relationships, or other outside sources. Self-help can be a way to find the qualities of inner satisfaction and peace without seeking approval or contentment from elsewhere. The advent of the internet has opened up the availability of information about self-help techniques to the world, and as people increasingly have access to computers and other technology, they are able to obtain this information quickly and easily and implement it within their own lives.
Different Approaches to Self-help
While the “self-help” genre is vast and includes many different approaches, the goal is the same, the improvement of the self. Self-help techniques, while varying, often involve changes in behavior, thinking, diet, sleep patterns, or attitude. For example, if one overeats or drinks to excess on a regular basis, the effects on the body and mind can be dramatic and devastating. Changing these behaviors is a necessary first step in improving oneself and self-help is often how people learn to make such changes, albeit via different techniques. Some may choose to join a self-help group, such as Narcanon or Alcoholics Anonymous, wherein a guided 12-Step approach is taken—although the work is very personal. Each participant must adhere to and go through the steps of the program individually—a highly-personalized process. Others may prefer the assistance of a trained professional or coach to guide them in their self-help journey, and still, hers may find an independent pursuit the way to go.
Self-help Behavioral Changes
Some self-help modalities may involve implementing new behaviors in one’s daily life, such as meditation, repeating positive affirmations (such as “I live consciously in the present and I release the past.”), or breathing techniques which can help relieve anxiety and stress. While medication is still used with much frequency to combat depression, self-help is becoming more widely accepted as a way of treating oneself for this very common disorder. Self-help techniques for treating depression may include increasing time spent with friends and family, which can boost one’s mood and avoiding a diet rich in foods which can affect the brain, such as alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Consuming foods containing these mood-influencing ingredients can deplete energy and increase irritability. Being mindful of the direction your thoughts are taking, whether positive or negative, can also help you to avoid falling into a depressive state if self-help techniques for “re-routing” negative thoughts are implemented.
Meditation as Self-help
Once considered an activity for monks, Yogis, or religious fanatics, meditation can have a profound effect on one’s physical and mental health, and, as it requires no equipment or special training, may be the simplest form of self-help. Now widely practiced, it can be learned in a minute or two and performed within one’s own home as long as a quiet and distraction-free corner is available. The act of meditating can improve one’s mood, increase focus, and reduce anxiety and depression. There are even self-help apps readily available which can be installed on your smartphone and will remind you to meditate each day and guide you through the meditation, sometimes taking just a minute or two to complete. A 2015 study at UCLA revealed that people who had meditated on a regular basis for twenty or more years had more gray matter present in brain scans than did non-meditators. In other words, those who meditated had brains which were better-preserved; it’s hard to imagine a better result of a self-help result than that! Daily meditation has been shown to provide both short-term (even immediate) and long-term benefits.
While there are many self-help techniques which can be done independently, there are also a good number of self-help groups out there which can support you through your journey. Such groups often consist of 12 Steps which guide you out of addictive behavior, and whether it involves drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or food, the principles are the same. By attending meetings, which may be as frequently as daily depending on the strength of your addiction, you are given the support and tools necessary to make changes within yourself. While each member of the group is likely going through their own unique battle with addictive behaviors, having the support of this type of self-help group can be the difference between allowing the addiction to continue its hold on your life and breaking free from its grasp. The 12 steps are undertaken by each member individually and on their own timeline, so while you are working the steps with others in your group, it is very much a self-help pursuit. There are also self-help groups (also referred to as “support groups”) which are focused on shared experiences, such as Parents Without Partners and Moms of Children with Special Needs. These types of organizations allow people to locate others who are undergoing similar issues, release stress and receive emotional support from one another. Creating a bond with another person is often easier when someone has an understanding of your experience, and finding this outlet can have a profound effect on a person’s well-being—and is an excellent form of self-help.
While self-help can be achieved both independently and with the help of a support group, many people find obtaining a personal self-help coach can be very beneficial. Sometimes called life coaches, they can help you understand the motivation behind the choices you are making, especially when those choices have had a negative impact on your life, and teach you alternative techniques which will result in your leading your best life. This may involve learning a skill such as how to say “no” when you are already overwhelmed at work or at home or setting specific goals for yourself along with a path towards achieving them. One advantage of a life coach is that they understand your personal issues and needs and will tailor a self-help regimen that is unique to you—something many whom employ their services find invaluable. Another type of self-help coach is a health coach. This type of coach specializes in assisting a person in the improvement of their health and nutrition with the goal of improving his overall quality of life. The health coach may create an exercise program determined by an individual’s weight and/or health goals. They may also evaluate the quality of your nutrition and support you in making changes that will help you combat things such as diabetes, weight gain, high cholesterol, or fatigue. An improvement in a person’s physical health can dramatically impact his emotional and mental health. While you are receiving support, using a self-help coach is still considered to be self-help, because, ultimately, the work is done by YOU.
Where to Begin Your Self-Help Journey
While there are myriad forms of self-help which may work for you, the easiest place to start is through your computer where a vast array of resources is at your disposal. You can find self-help and support groups in your area which specialize in the area in which you most need self-help, including dates and times when meetings are held near you. If you prefer a more individualized approach, you can also find life coaches and health coaches to choose from, as well as determine their experience and certification status. If there are no local options (or if you prefer to obtain self-help coaching from home), you may be able to find coaches who can provide coaching via Skype, eliminating travel time and expense. A quick search on video-sharing sites such as YouTube can direct you toward guided meditation sessions and allow you to try out different techniques to determine which might suit your particular needs or style. If reading is more your forte, there are literally thousands of books in the self-help genre at your disposal, and can be found on eBay, Amazon, or at your local bookstore.
Acknowledging that you need help is the first step of self-help—some might say the most difficult step. Once you’ve achieved that, it’s just a matter of determining which methodology works for you. Keep in mind that this may require a certain amount of trial and error, and be patient as you begin your self-help journey, as it is the journey, not the destination, which is most important.
© 2017 5th Dimensional Quantum Healing & Awareness by Author: Roisin Herrera