EXPLAINING CBT TECHNIQUES FOR A BETTER LIFE
In the last article on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), we learnt what CBT stands for and why is it helpful. Some simple CBT techniques have helped reduce stress levels of people, so in this article, let’s explore some of them. It will help us in reducing our stress; managing our emotions and reduce negative thinking.
Most of CBT techniques described here involve writing about and exploring our day, our feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. Most of us may even do these activities as a part of our daily routine.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust
Here are a few CBT techniques that would help in managing stress, emotions and exploring ourselves:
1. Functional Assessment (ABCs)
Functional assessment is one of the most used techniques of CBT by the therapist to help the client see their behavior patterns, whether harmful or helpful. Functional assessment is broken down into:
'A' refers to the antecedent, or the event or activity that immediately precedes a problem behaviour. The 'B' refers to observed behaviour, and 'C' refers to the consequence, or the event that immediately follows a response.
The ABC model is helpful to everyone who chooses to use it. It is helpful in knowing figurative patterns of behavior. The ABC model has been shown to have reduced anger levels in individuals with a volatile temper and lower anxiety levels.
2. Thought Records
Thought records, also known as journaling, are based on the premise that we don’t have to believe every thought you have. It is a way of putting our thoughts on a test.
It is designed to help us change our moods by finding a more balanced way of thinking and looking at things. In short, thought records mean that we put our thoughts on a trial and find a better and more helpful way of thinking and processing any situation. The process of thought recording helps us slow down and identify what is exactly going on, why we feel what we feel. It helps in bringing awareness that often creates a spontaneous shift in the way we feel and think.
One negative thoughts stay throughout in our mind; which build up more negative thoughts. Reframing in CBT is an act of replacing all the negative thoughts with positive ones. Reframing involves looking at the problem situation through a different perspective. The best example for this is, a quite a common phrase: whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. We can always ask questions like, “Is there any other way to look at this situation?”. Reframing a negative situation helps bring in more positive changes in life, it helps us change our perspective to look at things; we also tend to become more realistic rather than pessimistic.
4. Muscle Relaxation and Mindfulness
Many of us are aware about muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation. There are types of relaxation and mindfulness like progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, etc. Several studies have shown that progressive muscle relaxation has helped lower stress levels in individuals who work at management levels. Muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing of each muscle of the body combined with deep breathing exercises and imagery, in a sequence. Mindfulness is to be able to focus on our thoughts and feelings in the present moment.
5. Behavior Activation/ Activity Scheduling
Activity scheduling is just like making a timetable for the week (but also following it daily) to track our behavior patterns, skills learned and progress. It involves intentionally taking part in activities that are positively pleasurable. Pleasurable activities reduce negative thinking and promote positive emotions and feelings of well-being. Activity scheduling involves taking time out to do activities that are enjoyable. This technique is particularly helpful for individuals dealing with depression. Recent studies have shown that activity scheduling reduces depressive symptoms in teens and adults.
We are often so out of touch with ourselves that we have no idea what we’re really thinking or feeling. CBT techniques help us find a way to improve our lives, whether we are faced with a mental illness or not.