How to cope with a ‘therapy hangover’
Therapy can be exhausting! This is particularly true in the early days of therapy where you may feel that you need to go for a lie down after your session. Some people refer to this as a ‘therapy hangover’. This article explores the reasons behind why therapy makes you so tired and explores ways in which you can cope with this.
Why does therapy make you tired?
Some reasons why therapy can make you feel exhausted are detailed below:
The physical act of talking
In these days of modern technology where so much communication takes place remotely, many people are simply not used to talking to another human for 50 minutes. Holding a conversation for this length of time can be exhausting in itself.
Confronting the stresses in your life
The purpose of therapy is to focus on yourself and this often involves talking to your therapist about the more difficult aspects of your life. This requires a great deal of emotional energy and can result in your mind and your body feeling very tired.
Recalling past memories
During therapy, you may recall memories and experiences that you haven’t thought about for years. Memories can be difficult to remember clearly and you may expend a significant amount of energy by simply thinking about your past. You may find it difficult to verbalise your experiences, and finding suitable words to describe your past can be challenging.
Counselling can arouse emotional responses in you that you may not be prepared for. Recalling your past can often mean that old emotions are revoked and these may be expressed in the therapy room. This expression of emotion can be very draining, particularly if it takes you by surprise.
What can I do about it?
An important part of therapy is engaging in self-care and learning to look after yourself in between sessions. There are several ways you can do this:
Allow yourself time after the session
Rather than go back to work or family directly after a therapy session, it can be useful to give yourself some time and space to reflect on both the content and the emotions that have arisen. If you can, go somewhere quiet where you can process the session and reflect on how you are feeling.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is a time when your mind can process your emotions. You may find that after a therapy session, your dreams are more vivid or memorable. This is all part of the process and your dreams are playing a vital role in making sense of your experiences.
Write down how you are feeling
Some people find journaling extremely helpful in allowing them to make sense of their therapy session and this can help with feelings of tiredness. The words that you write don’t have to make sense and you don’t have to show it to anyone else. It can simply be a tool to help you to understand your thoughts.
Engaging in some self-care
Therapy can be a challenging process and looking after yourself between therapy sessions is important. What constitutes self-care differs between individuals, but typically may involve exercise, eating nice food, or spending time with friends etc. Making time to engage in activities which make you feel good can help to alleviate symptoms of the therapy hangover.
It is very normal to feel tired, even exhausted after therapy. Understanding the reasons behind this and developing ways in which you can look after yourself can help you get the very best out of your therapy sessions.