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A part of self-care is gathering information about what is helpful and what is harmful to our health. Luckily, there are different ways (books, video resources, support groups) to learn from people who are in a similar situation to ours.

In the last few years, the self-help book industry has been growing. The reason for that is because they save us time, money and offer full anonymity. Whether or not they help us is based on how likely we are to agree with what is written inside. But no matter how many books we read, they will not help unless we are ready to take our life into our own hands and start constantly working on improving it. Healthy Place have selected a few websites from which you can download self-help books for free (1). When looking for a self-help book or article, make sure it is written by someone with experience and authority on the subject.

Another method which is more popular in the West is support groups. They are made so people with similar problems can share experiences with each other. There are many different groups, such as those for addictions (alcohol, drugs, gambling), for fighting cancer, depression, for people with disabilities, victims of domestic abuse, etc. If you live in a big city, you can look for support groups relevant to your issue.

Dr. Clay Tucker-Ladd (1931-2010), clinical psychologist in the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (2), describes in his book Psychological Self-Help how we can improve our situation step by step.

Step 1: Select self-improvement projects, no more than 2 or 3 at a time

Step 2: Start collecting and recording data reflecting the severity or frequency of the problem

Step 3: Try to understand the problem, how it developed, its original causes, and what causes it to continue. Analyze your problem into five parts.

Step 4: Set realistic short and long-term goals

Step 5: Select the self-help methods that seem most likely to work, i.e. develop a "treatment plan."

Step 6: Learn the detailed steps involved in each self-help method you are using and try out your plan.

Step 7: Continue throughout the project to assess and plot your progress

Step 8: If needed, revise your plan - deal with your resistance to change. Keep up your motivation. Find a therapist.

Step 9: Plan ways of maintaining the gains made.

Step 10: Make a note of each method's effectiveness: what works for you? (3).

The change we want to make in our behavior or our way of thinking about certain things takes a lot of effort and time. We must be prepared for the fact that progress can be slow and for that reason, we may not notice it. The only person who can act in our favor is ourselves, no amount of advice would help if we were not ready to change our situation. As Dr. Clay Tucker-Ladd says, “Don't wait for magical solutions.

DO SOMETHING to help yourself. Be strong!

Confront any resistance to change and challenge all your defeatist attitudes. Learn to believe you can change things.”(4). If the problem is severe and no amount of effort makes any difference or there are physical factors involved, seek the help of a specialist as soon as possible.

This article is part of the project ‘Healthy, Brave and Proud: a Mental Health Support Program for LGBTI Youth’, which aims to provide support and raise awareness about mental health within the LGBTI community. The project is financed by the TELUS International Bulgaria Community Board.


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