The underappreciated value of “stop therapy”

The simple definition of stop therapy is:

just stop doing the thing that is not serving your physical or mental health

Just stop doing bad stuff. It sounds obvious really.

I think it’s fair to say we don’t go around literally hitting our heads against a brick wall. We know it’s not good for us, we don’t do it and we don’t need to be told to stop it. But what if we are doing things that aren’t good for us, either because we don’t realise it or because we rationalise it away somehow?

Sometimes we get caught up in all the things we think we should be doing to make us healthier or to be “better” people. So we overload ourselves with expectations, goals, challenges and promises to ourselves and others. Often we are taking these things on in an effort to compensate for other areas in our lives that we’re (consciously or subconsciously) not comfortable with. Does that sound familiar?

All our focus is on the things we think we “should be doing” for our physical or mental health, relationships, careers etc and maybe we overlook some of the things we could just stop. And perhaps stopping something is actually easier than trying to add more and more stuff into our day.

Why is “stop therapy” important?

Many people are attempting to be more health conscious these days. If you are reading this blog, then you are likely one of them.  Perhaps you just do a couple of things like add an extra serve of vegies into your day or you do a yoga class when you can. Maybe you go all out and try every new “superfood” or health fad that comes along.  Perhaps you love a good health “program”, do “cleanses” on a regular basis, go to health spas for your holidays and generally invest a lot of time and money in your health. If that is you, and you feel great for it then good on you.  Keep up the good work!

The problem for me arises when I see people loading themselves up with all these good ideas, foods, supplements, intentions, goals, plans etc etc.

Sometimes it is to the point of unsustainable overwhelm (physically and/or financially). Eventually, trying to keep all those plates spinning becomes an impossible task and so you crash, give up and maybe feel bad about it. But it’s not your fault, you were trying to do the impossible!

Instead of loading yourself up with all those things you think you should be doing, perhaps you might be better off starting with a bit of “stop therapy”. Maybe your health would be better served if you released the pressure valve that is the endless quest for the one food, supplement, drug, diet, program or exercise that you hope will change your life and solve all your health issues. Perhaps, instead, change your focus to stopping some of the bad stuff.

Maybe you wouldn’t need all those extra things if you just practised some “stop therapy” and gave up the choices that aren’t working for you.

Before you sign up to a new program or order more supplements online or start a new drug to suppress a symptom, ask yourself:

Are there any things I should just stop first?

Here’s a list to get you thinking. Are there things on this list that you would benefit from stopping?

  • Smoking
  • Soft drinks (diet or otherwise)
  • Late nights
  • Partying
  • A reliance on take-away food
  • Biscuits or lollies or chips
  • Daily alcohol or weekend binging
  • Sugar in your coffee/tea
  • Spending time on programs or apps that end up making you feel bad about yourself
  • Doing a job you hate
  • Spending time with people whose company you don’t enjoy
  • Saying “yes” to every invitation/request for fear of missing out or offending someone
  • Putting up resistance to every new idea or opportunity without giving it a try
  • Rushing around from one thing to the next

What else would you add to that list? Is there something that, if you stopped, you know you would feel better for it?

I don’t always advocate “stop therapy”. Often I prefer to add things in and let the bad stuff just get crowded out but occasionally it is the stopping of stuff that isn’t serving you that is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.

Maybe you would find it easy to stop or maybe it would be difficult, uncomfortable or challenging. It may take more than one attempt and you might need some help coming up with strategies and tools to make those changes. That’s where naturopathy and health coaching can help.

I can’t lay claim to the term “stop therapy”. It comes from one of my naturopathic lecturers when I was completing my degree. But I recommend it frequently when I am working with my naturopathy clients here in clinic. Stop therapy is a simple but valuable concept to practise. I believe it is something most of us could benefit from if we just got into the habit on a regular basis.

Stop therapy could just be the thing you need to do in order to get that long term, sustained improvement in your health that you seek (without chasing the elusive magic bullet).

Want help with your health? Call me on 03 9620 9503 and let's have a chat about your best next step.
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