If you’ve ever suffered from stress, anxiety or low moods you know just how debilitating it can be and it can get in the way of you enjoying your life. Luckily help is at hand.
Cognitive restructuring is one of the most successful treatments for common psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorders and stress.
Here are some top techniques to help you tackle periods of depression, anxiety and low mood at home, so you can live your life to the full.
Top 5 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Techniques To Try At Home
1. Recognise when you’re having a ‘cognitive distortion’
Example: you find yourself making ‘negative predictions’ about certain events or situations. This means you’ll find yourself expecting not to enjoy going out for dinner, expecting your boss not to like your presentation, or expecting not to feel energised for your exercise class.
Technique: get into the habit of noticing when you’re making these predictions and when you do, ask yourself if there is another way you could think about it. Perhaps consider what other outcomes there could be. Ask yourself these three questions: What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen? What’s the most realistic outcome?
2. How accurate is your thinking?
Example: part of your issue is that you feel that if you think a lot about your problems then you’ll find a solution.
Technique: spend a week writing down how much time you spend overthinking in one column, and then in a second column write down how much, if any, of the overthinking actually lead to useful problem solving. At the end of the week work out what percentage of your overthinking led to your problems being solved.
3. Put your thoughts into practice
Example: you think you don’t have time for a break at work.
Technique: for one week carry out your usual routine and rate your productivity on a scale of one to 10 at the end of every day. The following week take a five minute break every hour and do the same ratings. Then compare your productivity at the end of the two weeks.
4. Evaluate the evidence
Example: you think you can never do anything right.
Technique: write one column (column A) of objective evidence that supports your thought that you can never do anything right. Then in column B write objective evidence that show you can do things right. Then write a few balanced thoughts to summarise the evidence. For example, “I have made mistakes, but a lot of the time I make good choices.”
5. Be kind to yourself
This technique isn’t a specific tool taught as part of CBT training, but it has the same positive effect. It involves talking to yourself kindly whenever you have a feeling of suffering, whether that’s stress, depression or anxiety.
Example: you’ve made a mistake at work and normally you’d call yourself a “stupid idiot”.
Technique: instead of calling yourself names, exercise some self-compassion. Accept that you’ve made a mistake, that this makes you feel foolish or embarrassed, and that this is a universal human experience. Overtime if you replace self-criticism with self-compassion your thoughts will change.
Rob Rudd understands the importance of managing stress. Having worked in a stressful job for many years he whole heartedly recommends finding a technique which suits you to keep in control on anxiety.