Tag Archives: cognitivebehavioraltherapy

The Beauty in knowing nothing…

What does paradigm mean? In the dictionary paradigm is described as a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology. Every individual possesses a way of thinking that has been molded by our personal beliefs. Our personal beliefs are formed over time through our relationships, our upbringing, culture and our education. We don’t even realize that our perspective is being formed over time, and as we age it is sometimes even hard to pinpoint why we believe in something. We become protective of these beliefs and have difficulty when they are challenged. Why do we respond with such emotional conviction towards defending our principles? One of my favorite quotes is when Socrates describes being wise: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing”. This really resonates with me in that it shows the importance of severing the emotional ties with our personal beliefs. This allows other possibilities to surface and limits the emotional impact our thoughts have on us. This also enables us to not be so protective of our views. The route of anxiety comes from the worry of the unknown, and the fear of the “what if”. I know for me personally, a lot of my anxiety is caused by my biggest fears coming to life, “what if I am a bad mother” or “what if I get fired and can’t support my family?”, “what if my health never gets better?” and so on… I use Socrates words to challenge anxiety-provoking thoughts, I do this by reminding myself that I don’t know what will happen and that is okay. I now try to welcome the many different possibilities life has to offer.

The idea of accepting the unknown is extremely scary. Anxiety sends us on a cycle of agony and seeking reassurance. It is not easy by any means, trying to strip away and re-train our mind from conditioned behavior. On the plus side our minds are extremely malleable and adaptable. When we actively try to change a habit we are able to do it, but it takes daily discipline and conscious awareness. There is no finite timeframe where this is achieved. For me it is still a daily practice, something that I will follow for the rest of my life. Some days will be easier then others, but the hardest is the beginning transition. Anxiety loosens its grip the less attention it gets, and overtime its voice turns into a whisper.

OCD: Alternative to meds…

OCD is an anxiety disorder where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity. An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.

When I was researching tools for my anxiety I stumbled across a concept called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brains ability to form new neural connections, and its ability to adapt to changes. I was fascinated by this concept, particularly in the works of Dr. Jeffery Schwartz; he brilliantly illustrates his work in his book “Brain Lock”. His breakthrough discovery showcases that through self-guided practices we can change the neuroplasticity of our brain. Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder practiced his four-step cognitive behavioral method; these patients underwent PET scans before and after implementing the four-step technique. The results were groundbreaking he showed that something physical the brain can be changed by something non-physical the mind.

He scanned OCD patients, and found their brains were overactive; he then scanned their brains after implementing the four-step method and found their brains restored itself to a normal response. The reason why this is so groundbreaking is that through actively trying to change our response to anxiety or compulsions we truly can rewire our brains response.

Watch Dr. Jeffery Schwartz explain his method in the following video:

 

It is important to note that not all people who suffer with OCD can deal with their situation without the use of Medication. Medication can play a key role into making sufferers live a more fulfilling and manageable life.

Tips for Anxiety…

A great article by the Huffington Post about Anxiety Tips!

People with anxiety disorders often face a sense of worry or dread and spend hours ruminating over worst case scenarios, which can get in the way of professional goals, personal relationships and a good quality of life. But there are ways to cope.

Here, experts offer their best techniques to work through situations that might drum up anxiety, which may help you or someone you know keep worry or fear at bay:

1. Put your worrisome thoughts on a schedule.

If you are going about your day and notice anxious thoughts, identify the thought stream and then postpone thinking about it until later, Ricks Warren, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post. Warren calls this technique “worry postponement” or a “worry scheduling” skill, which can be very effective.

For example, you might be at a movie and find yourself becoming anxious about an upcoming work presentation. To postpone and schedule, pause and metaphorically put that whole worry on a shelf. Say to yourself, “I’m not at work right now. I will think about this tomorrow at the office.”

Later on, when it is time to consider what was making you feel anxious, you might consider discussing the issue with someone you trust.

MONICA RODRIGUEZ VIA GETTY IMAGES

2. Develop a “catastrophe scale.”

Draw a line on a piece of paper. Write the number zero at the beginning of the line, 50 in the middle and 100 at the end. This is what Warren calls a “catastrophe scale.” Then ask yourself, “What are the worst possible things that could happen?” Write those things down on the side with the highest values.

“When you think about a child dying, or a terrible accident, it helps people put things in perspective,” Warren said. “Not everything gets a 100.”

Being late for a job interview or a blunder at a party are unfortunate events. But, as Warren hopes you’ll come to believe, they’re not scenarios you should be terribly hard on yourself about in the scheme of things.

The goal for the rating system is that you eventually break down what you’d need to do in order to cope with it. This could be rallying a supportive group of friends, making a phone call or simply working out to reduce your stress and let it go.

3. Break big projects into small tasks.

Worry and anxiety can find their way into the workplace, showing up in the form of procrastination, says Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University.

“[People with anxiety] often want to show up on time, wanting to complete the work. Anxiety is what paralyzes them,” Humphreys told HuffPost.

Humphreys suggests breaking down overwhelming projects into the smallest possible task.

Small goals are effective for those dealing with social anxiety as well. If going to a party feels overwhelming, don’t worry about becoming the life of the party. Just set one small goal such as greeting the host, or talking to one person you do not know.

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4. Prove your anxiety wrong.

Research from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Anxiety and Depression Research Center found that when people with anxiety expose themselves to their anxiety trigger, it actually helps them cope better. By showing yourself that the worst didn’t happen, you’ll minimize the fear you experience.

For example, say you are afraid of riding the subway and your worst fear is that you’ll get stuck for ages without help. Head underground with your worst fears in tow. After you ride the subway, without getting stuck, you successfully disprove your worst hypothesis. This can be an empowering exercise, Warren says.

5. Force your body into a state of calm.

Your body already has a built-in stress reliever, it’s just a matter of tapping into it.

“Focus on your breathing, put your feet flat on the floor. Smile even if you don’t feel like smiling,” Humphreys advised. “Tense your muscles then let them go, then tense them again and repeat. Relax your body and a lot of people will find your emotions will follow.”

ASCENT/PKS MEDIA INC. VIA GETTY IMAGES

6. Cultivate acceptance about your anxiety.

According to Warren, there’s a big difference between accepting your anxiety and accepting yourself as someone who experiences anxiety.

“People put themselves down for being anxious,” he explained. “Accept yourself with anxiety and notice that you’re not alone.”

And it’s true: An anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the country, with nearly 40 million American adults experiencing it over their lifetime. It’s critical to cultivate self compassion about your condition.

“Support yourself with anxiety, just as if a friend was there supporting you,” Warren said.

7. Remember that anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

“If it’s serious and you’re paralyzed with anxiety everyday, there are mental health treatments that really work,” Humphreys said.

And if you are not experiencing this condition, but know someone who is, try to be as empathetic as possible to what he or she is going through. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25 percent of people with a mental health disorder feel like others are understanding about their experience.

Above all, it’s important to remember that you deserve to feel calm and healthy. Despite what your anxious thoughts might lead you to believe, the stakes are a lot lower than you think.

“We would worry a lot less what other people thought of us if we knew how rarely they did,” Humphreys said.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/7-tips-to-actually-manage-anxiety-on-a-regular-basis_us_5862b420e4b0de3a08f640e8?ir=Canada&

CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

http://anxietynetwork.com/content/cognitive-behavioral-therapy

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

If we are serious about overcoming an anxiety disorder, we need to approach anxiety from every positive angle and perspective that we have available to us.  Therefore, we focus on three main areas, all three of which must be addressed in therapy:

1. COGNITIVE

(thinking/belief processes)

Here we learn new methods and ways to change our old thinking patterns and habits.  If we’re always thinking and expecting the worst to happen, then we will continue to suffer.  We can train or condition our minds to think and respond differently than we have in the past.  Or think of it this way – our brain was conditioned to think and feel negatively, but NOW we can be reconditioned to think rationally and healthfully.

We have many dozens of specific methods and strategies that we use to overcome anxiety — and you only need to find several methods that work well for you.  We usually start CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) at this stage.

Some effective cognitive-behavioral  techniques are:

Slow-talk/slow walk/slowing down/relaxing

Stopping automatic negative thinking (ANTs)

The acceptance paradox: how we keep the fires burning and how to put them out

Rational and helpful self-statements that become permanent and “automatic” thoughts

Continuing to move forward, step by step

Whose voice are you listening to, anyhow?  Do we have to listen and believe all the old lies?

The determination factor: becoming more focused and determined.  Determination is a powerful process.  It does not involve aggression or any other negative emotion.  It is a postive emotion that means, “I am serious about overcoming my anxiety.  If I work on therapy daily, and give it time and patience, I know I will gradually reduce my anxiety in these situations.

Focusing: What are you paying attention to?  Are you paying attention to what is rational?  Or, are you still seeing things from an irrational, skewed perspective?

Later, it’s important we address perfectionism, anger, frustration, setbacks, and our view of the world.

2. BEHAVIORAL

(what we DO)

The behavioral aspect of therapy is the part where we actually put everything into place — in everyday, real-life, practical situations where we are bothered by anxiety and depression.

This area is always handled at the same time or directly after cognitive therapy, because we need a strong foundation of cognitive and emotional skills and strategies so that we can begin living and acting differently before we confront real-life challenges.  Each and every anxiety symptom has a direct strategy that works, given your determination, time, and patience.  There are no roadblocks that cannot be overcome.

This stage is essential for people with anxiety problems (such as social anxiety disorder) and serves as a powerful adjunct to individual treatment for others.

3. EMOTIONAL

(relaxation/peaceful/strength, and power strategies)

It is important to have some type of relaxation or “de-stress” strategy that is accessible whenever we need it.  In this area, calmness and peace are the goals.

The more your brain is quiet and relaxed, the easier therapeutic information can get into it and be processed.  This is simply another way to let the therapy reach your brain and gently sink in.

Our focus is on peace and calmness here.  We do not focus on decreasing anxiety by using these methods.  Why?  As peace and calmness become a little stronger, it tends to “crowd out” the anxieties and fears we have.  Therefore, we never need to focus on the anxiety, the nervousness, or the fear.  Our attention is on healing, healthiness, and inner peace.

All of this is achievable in a good cognitive-behavioral group.

How CBT impacted me…

Cognitive behavioral therapy is structured around the idea that our thoughts influence our feelings and behavior. The idea being that if we can change our  reaction to the thoughts we can in turn change our behavior. Over time something that used to be triggering no longer is, and something that usually would become trigger no longer has the same hold on an individual.

When my anxiety got really bad, I started searching the web for answers on how to cope with anxiety provoking thoughts. I ended up finding lots of information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I started to look for a CBT trained therapist and ended up finding one who uses CBT and Mindfulness. The process was not easy at all, but definitely worth it.  I was able through working hard and being guided by my therapist to challenge my thoughts and ultimately change my perspective.

For example, the idea that I was inadequate would before evoke a response of “I feel inadequate so it must be true” after cognitive behavioral therapy the response changed to “ I accept the presence of this thought, and I know it is just a thought”. The most gratifying experience of cognitive behavioral therapy is when I was able to recognize that I not only had a pattern of negative and self-consuming thoughts, but I had thousands of thoughts. When I was able to observe the other thoughts, I then was able to push the self-consuming thoughts in the same backdrop. I had no response to them, they were just the same as the thousands of other thoughts I had. I started to view my thoughts differently, and was able to watch them come and go with no judgment and no attachment.

I also learned that my thoughts were not connected to the core of who I am as a person. And that the “What if…” is not something that can ever be answered no matter how long and how much time I spent ruminating about the thoughts.

I still have moments of anxiety, but I now have the tools and resources to tackle it much more effectively. My anxiety is no longer crippling, and I am able to live a much more healthier and fulfilling life.

“You are not your mind.”
– Eckhart Tolle