Mental health awareness week: 4 Lessons to take away from CBT

Last week was mental health awareness week. Social media platforms were inundated with discussions surrounding the topic. However, as the week drew to a close so did the discussions. Only recently has the stigma associated with mental health started to dissolve, so it’s only natural that both individuals and organisations tend to be apprehensive when it comes to tackling the subject matter. Yes, as a society we still have a long way to go, however I believe we are making progress; as slow as it might be, it is something.

If you’ve been following this page for a while, you may know that last year I opened up about receiving treatment (CBT) for my social anxiety and depression. I first deemed CBT to be ineffective and was so reluctant to attend the sessions. However, in hindsight there were some aspects/teachings that actually proved to be pretty helpful when it came to managing my moods. Since it was of help to me, I thought it be best to share, just in case it can potentially help someone else 🙂

1.Keep a ‘positive data log’

The main aim of a positive data log is to challenge negative thoughts by focusing instead on the positive. Similar to gratitude journaling, the positive data log requires you to create a daily list of at least 3 positive encounters, thoughts or feelings. By creating this list and reviewing at either the end of the day or week, we get to appreciate or at least acknowledge some of the positives which we had otherwise forgotten about if not written down.

2.Drop the comparisons

In CBT, negative comparisons are referred to as ‘compare and despair’. As this thinking pattern would have been developed over time, it is something that will take a while to eradicate. The act of comparing ourselves to others is beyond detrimental to our mental health & overall wellbeing, so it’s important that we make a conscious effort to drop the comparisons.

3.Voice how you feel

Bottling up is unhealthy. It is important that you have someone to communicate with throughout your journey. At times you may feel like a burden to others when trying to voice how you feel (this is one of the many reasons I didn’t open up to anyone); In this case seeing a therapist once a week or every other week works great.

4.Make a list of things you enjoy and try to incorporate something into your day

The gratification we gain from of doing things we enjoy, more often than not gives us a sense of achievement and purpose that can (in some cases) turn our mood around. We are much more likely to attempt to get out of bed if we have something to look forward to. In my case, I enjoy yoga, reading, taking pictures and blogging. I therefore do my best to incorporate these activities in my weekly routine, giving me something to look forward to at the end of a rubbish day.

Hopefully this list has been useful for someone out there. If you are considering seeing a therapist, I would definitely recommend that you do your research to find out what type of therapy is most suitable for your needs. CBT, is all about changing your behaviour and thought patterns which may be more geared towards those suffering from anxiety and/or depression.

Please drop me a message if you ever want to talk. I am in no way shape or form an expert, so please contact your doctor if you feel you need a professional’s help or opinion 🙂 Remember, only you know how you feel.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Self-care tips for valentine’s day

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I’m spending valentines alone,

What about you?

Spending Valentine’s day alone is nothing to be embarrassed about. This day, heavily commodified not to mention cheesy, in no way needs to be celebrated with a significant other. It’s a day used to celebrate love in all of its forms.

So what a better day to spend loving yourself. Below are some self-care/love tips for valentine’s day (& pretty much every other day)

Self-care tips

  • Light a candle

There’s something about candles that really lift the mood. In 2009, a study by Keville & Green reported that scented candles and oils can help to improve depression and anxiety, amongst other psychological imbalances. So if you’re feeling down, lighting a candle is the start of a great little pick me up.

  • Read a book

With the steep the rise in the usage of technology and social media, taking breaks from our electronic devices is extremely important. Picking up a tangible book (if you like reading) is a great way to filter out all the noise from the outside world. Only 6 minutes of reading a day can reduce stress by up to 68%.

  • Treat yourself

Valentine’s day has been marketed as the day of giving gifts to those you love. However, this rarely includes ourselves. Well, today we are changing the narrative and treating US!! Stuck for ideas? Saabirah has an amazing self-gift guide where I’m sure you’ll be able to find something you love.

  • Write down some affirmations

Affirmations are basically your way of talking to yourself as you would talk to your best friend. It is the core (in my opinion) of self-love, empowerment & positivity. Take the day to write down some positive affirmations on post-it notes & stick them up where you can see them. This can then become somewhat of a daily routine

CBT & me

In honour of National Suicide prevention week, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog post to my battle with mental health issues, and a review of the treatment I am currently receiving to help overcome this.

I’ve always known I was different, too quiet, too weird, too emotional…

I just never really took the time out to notice the negative impact this was having in my life.

January 2018 was the month that I decided to take my mental health a bit more seriously.

New year new me right?

Not exactly…

After 8 months on the waiting list, I was finally booked in to receive CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy). I had a minuscule amount of knowledge on the different types of therapy offered, due to taking a semester-long course in my first year of university. My mom (yes I spell Mom with an O as opposed to a U) is also a trained counsellor, so she was able to give me a little bit of an insight ahead of my CBT sessions.

However, this didn’t ease my mind at all. You see, I’ve never actually fully confided in anyone about my issues. On the odd occasion I did,  it was all very surface level… I just knew that no one would understand me or where I was coming from.

Skip to the present moment & I am now on my 5th session of CBT, beginning to have doubts as to whether this will be beneficial in the long run. In my first session, my therapist was quick to label me with depression & social anxiety which I thought rather unfair to those going through worse things than I. The sessions sometimes leave me feeling more down than before, mainly due to the fact that I sound ridiculous when trying to articulate thoughts & feelings into words.

One thing I have learnt so far is that we are not alone, although it may feel like that on most days, there are people ready to listen even at the times when you don’t feel like talking. I’ve been where you are, in fact, I’m still there, I can’t say that it gets better but you do learn to adapt and rid yourself from unhealthy coping mechanisms that only provide a temporary release.

With that being said, if anyone ever needs to talk just send me a message, I’m here to listen.