A good friend of mine who used to see a psychologist said it to me best: "They make my unconscious... conscious."
Okay, vague? Yes. But pertinent? Well, yes to that too.
There ARE some ways for you to become friends with your own mind again- even if you didn't spend 100,000 dollars on 10 years of school for a PhD. in Psychology. They are easy, require minimal money, and are surprisingly under-utilized tools to improving your mental health.
1. Read, do crossword puzzles, Sudoku... anything that makes your brain WORK. Even better- do these things outside in the grass. Or on a front porch.
2. Breath deeply. Stretch. A lot. Try the pretzel thing with your legs, sit on comfy pillow and close your eyes. This is a thing called mediation- and 15 minutes a day has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression.
3. Get a pet. They will love you and give you all kinds of affection when you're sad.
4. Eat well. You body is the house of your mind and spirit. Therefore- one affects the other two. Aim for lots of colors and fragrances. Avoid anything that makes your stomach feel like a cement truck.
5. On the above note- exercise. You don't need to do the Boston Marathon. Just walk for 20 minutes a day. Step 5. goes really well in combination with Step 2.
6. Cry. Let it out. In private, or on the phone with a good friend.
7. Write. Keep a journal. It will crystallize your thoughts- and help you step outside of yourself so you can observe the convoluted mess that imagine is in your brain.
8. Volunteer. Nothing helps to fix your problems- like coming face to face with someone else whose problems blow your's out of the water.
9. SING. In the shower, while you clean, to yourself, or to a CD. Who cares if you can keep a tune? Still worried? Watch the first week of American Idol.
10. Get out into nature. Breathe fresh air. Hear the birds. Kids laughing, the sun on your face... these don't cost any money so use them daily.
11. Smile even when you're not happy. This one is the last because it's the most important. It's also scientifically proven. Your brain DOESN'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between what you THINK, and what is actually happening to you. If you smile your brain will automatically assume it's because something good is happening to make you do it! Similarly, if you frown, your brain will do the opposite. Try it. When you get cut off in rush hour. When the check out line is 2 miles long, or when the dryer shreds your favorite shirt.
Sadly- none of these things will work if you've already decided they won't. Although the same is true for dropping 100 dollars an hour to lay on a couch and cry to a stranger. If you are convinced that your mental unrest will never go away- then you won't need any tips from any writer. Or psychologist for that matter. The most powerful tool in getting psychological help- is believing in the help to begin with- no matter what form it may come in.