As some of you may know, when I took my break from work I vowed to get a better handle on my anxiety before even attempting to go through that all over again.
Those with anxiety, or any other mental health issue for that matter, will know that you don’t just wake up one morning and be ‘cured’ of those harmful thoughts or depressive feelings. You can’t just pop a pill or wrap a bandage around it and hope that all will be better in a few hours because these thoughts come from deep within you, sometimes they are deep rooted and have grown with you for years and attempting to fix those thoughts take a lot of time and effort.
Since starting therapy I’ve been working on a few techniques with my therapist and nothing has helped me more than keeping a ‘Helpful Thinking Diary’. When I first learnt what this was and how it worked I thought NOPE!! That wont work for me. I was very used to avoiding all negative or anxious thoughts until they suffocated me and then it was just too much to handle! Like an overwhelming surge or emotions and I’d end up drowning in them. I’ve learnt that burying my head in the sand until i’m choking on it just wasn’t good for anybody and it wasn’t resolving anything, just adding to the many many layers of worries and fears and it did come to a point where I just couldn’t handle it anymore.
Now I feel like before I continue I should disclaim a few things, I have no formal qualifications in therapy or mental health. I did not develop these techniques and am not associated with any persons or corporations that have developed them. That being said I am somebody who has suffered with a lot of issues on the mental health spectrum, and I know what works for me and what doesn’t. This is something that I have tried in various forms and it has been really helpful for me and my catastrophic way of thinking and when I find a technique that works for me I literally want to shout about it from the rooftops. If this helps just one other person then it is totally worth speaking about it openly.
I started by getting a small notebook, something lightweight and small enough to throw into my handbag anytime and a pen. If you love your stationary as much as me this can be a part of the therapy, the beginning of learning to manage your detrimental thought and worries. Make it a positive treat, a nice little bit of self care that you don’t have to feel bad or guilty about. This little mode of thrashing out your anxieties will help you feel so much better in the long run so it’s so worth it! I did consider doing this on my phone just in the notes section and in an age of constant screen stimulation this could be what works for some people but I wanted to step away from the phone a bit. It’s so easy to be distracted by messages and social media notifications while you’re trying to put yourself in a different mindset and I know that if it was me, I’d end up replying to messages or checking my Instagram notifications and the entire task would be thrown out of the window.
So once you have your vessel, begin filling it with helpful positive things. Take one of your worries and centre it on your page and once you have your worry begin constructing your branches. One should say ‘whats the worst that could happen?’ and the other ‘Whats the best that could happen?’
Now break down each main branch further, for each scenario ask yourself ‘what past experiences prove these points?’ For example lets say your fear is your child being harmed if you go out. The worst that could ever happen is that serious harm comes to your child while you’re out. But the best is that you go out, achieve whatever you needed to achieve while you’re out and have a lovely day with your child, they get to build their social skills and you get those shoes you’ve been eyeing up all month.
Breaking those two scenarios up further, What does past experience tell you about your fear? You have been out many times with your little one and thankfully they have come to absolutely no harm therefore the likelihood of it happening is very small. Some may argue that it is is still a possibility for your fear to come true but break that down further. Harm could come to anybody at any time, My little boy has more bumps and bruises occuring at home than anywhere else but I would never refuse to bring him home because of the fear he may come to harm. Past experiences show you that when you have left the house with your little one no harm has come to them but they have interacted with nature, their surroundings, strangers in the street. They’ve gotten some fresh air and maybe they’ve napped better after they’ve been out? So past experiences show you that it is beneficial to leave the house with your little one.
This is obviously a scenario that I’ve invented to show how, by breaking up the best and worst scenarios you can assist your mind to think more positively. I’ve used this technique a few times recently and found it so helpful I just had to come on here and write about it