It's great to have you here and sticking with it. Hopefully you have had a good week.
Before we begin, how have things been?
Last week we looked generally at mental health and emotional wellbeing.
We also looked at picking out what you want to work on and what you want to achieve.
Really, it was a case of us getting to know each other and helping you to get a grip on what to expect.
This week we’re going to look at how our thoughts, feelings and behaviour all work together (seems simple but the link isn’t always obvious!). We'll also take a first look at the Vicious Cycle and how this has an impact on our overall mental health and wellbeing.
Before we go any further let’s do our Drill Review for last week’s session:
How did you find writing in your mood diary?
How did you find the first week with your three new goals?
So let’s get started. This week is all about thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
It might seem pretty self-explanatory, but what exactly are thoughts, feelings and behaviour and how do they work together?
Have a discussion now with your mentor.
Bazaar has been designed to support you in improving your quality of life.
There are many ways we can help ourselves and change our circumstances.
Some of these include exercise, a balanced diet and good sleep management.
Another way you can improve your quality of life is to talk, to try to challenge negative beliefs and patterns of thought about yourself and the world around you.
What is CBT?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has emerged in recent decades and is a solution-focused form of psychotherapy that has been designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and boost wellbeing. CBT has two parts, ‘cognitive’ and ‘behavioural’.
Cognitive focuses on your brain; we can try to change negative patterns of thinking. Behavioural focuses on how you act. CBT aims to help us take charge of our thinking and develop behaviours that benefit us.
CBT works in multiple ways.
It helps us break down big challenges into smaller, more manageable pieces. An overwhelming feeling of low mood, for example, can be broken down into a collection of more manageable thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
We can then use different techniques to work on each component. Simple enough really, but unless you learn this you would not naturally make the connection!
Watch how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can effect each other.
Can you think of a different way Nala could have thought about the situation? Take a few minutes and discuss with your mentor
(SPOILER: there are loads!)
There are many reasons people decide to do Bazaar. Some common ones are:
Thoughts, feelings and behaviours work together in a downward spiral when we’re feeling low. Low mood and lack of feeling motivated make it difficult to find pleasure in most activities, even ones we used to enjoy.
We see the world and ourselves in a negative light and as our thoughts and mood darken, we’re likely to pull back from many of our activities, further worsening our low mood.
CBT can help us break negative thinking allowing us to have a much more positive engagement with life, improving our mood and boosting our self-esteem and confidence.
Fear and Worry
Uncertain outcomes in a situation can cause us to feel anxiety, fear or worry. However, it’s important to note, low to moderate levels are totally normal! Being slightly worried increases attention, motivation and provides us with energy to perform well.
However, beyond a certain point, fear and worry can become counterproductive and can hinder both our mental and physical health.
Practicing techniques that include relaxing our muscles, slowing down and meditation can calm our nervous system which may be overwhelmed or distressed. Cognitive techniques can help address unnecessary feelings of danger that cause fear and worry.
When life’s challenges demand a response from us, we can feel a sense of pressure caused by stress. As with fear and worry, a certain amount of stress is helpful, but sometimes it can be counterproductive, especially when our body is chronically, or in a long-term state of stress.
CBT offers tools for calming the nervous system. Specific breathing techniques can calm our fight-flight-freeze system.
We can also address behaviours that increase stress. For example, CBT can encourage us to prioritise self-care and use healthy coping strategies, increasing our ability to manage, cope with and process stress.
Or simply just because: Some people complete Bazaar because they want more from life by being the best version of themselves.
Low Mood, Worry and Stress can manifest themselves through a range of psychological and physical symptoms.
Symptoms range from person to person. Two people may experience the exact same event but respond completely differently. What may be a trigger for me may not be a trigger for you.
Here are some examples of psychological symptoms:
- Worrying and ruminating
- Trying to solve unsolvable problems
- Feeling in danger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Poor concentration
- Obsessional thinking
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
Examples of Physical Symptoms:
- Sweating/Feeling hot
- Nail biting
- Skin Picking
- Hair pulling
- Palpitations (fast/irregular heartbeat)
- Tense muscles
- Aches & pains
- Body twitches
- Weight changes
- Irritable stomach/‘butterflies’
Now that you’re aware of some of the psychological and physical symptoms caused by low mood, fear and stress, list any psychological or physical symptoms that you experience when feeling low, fearful or stressed.
It’s worth noting that this is a good example of how we are going to go about Bazaar, you will learn something, then we will look to apply the learning to you and your life.
Symptoms can be caused by many different experiences. Some examples include:
- Natural biological response: fight, flight or freeze.
- Experiences and events
- "Out of the blue"
- Build up of stress and pressure
- Other mental health conditions
- Drugs and alcohol
Often, at the time we might not even be aware of the cause(s) of our own symptoms.
But let’s have a look at it, now that you’re aware of some of the causes of low mood, fear and stress, list any that you think might apply to you.
You're welcome to look back over the list on the previous page, but try to think about what specific things cause or exacerbate your own symptoms.
Ways to Reduce Symptoms:
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling
- Move your body
- Eat a healthy meal
- Take a break - pause - rest
- Ask for help to reduce overwhelm
- Go for a walk outside, be in nature
- Be creative
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Improve sleep hygiene
- Take deep breaths and count to 10 slowly
- Listen to music, a podcast or watch your favourite TV show
- Journal - write down how you are feeling
- Tidy your home
- Physical touch - 20 second hug from a loved one releases oxytocin
- Cry - crying shifts our physiological state and releases emotion from the body
- Set very achievable goals, and complete them (eg. getting out of bed in the morning)
Now that you’re aware of some of the ways of reducing these symptoms, please choose three coping strategies that you think work best for you, or that you could (and will!) try. Make a note now.
One thing a lot of people do is ruminate! Rumination is continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which often tend to be negative.
Rumination can be detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing.
Ruminating can impair our ability to think and plan for the future and prevent us from processing our emotions.
Although rumination can be detrimental to our health, it is important to remember how common it is.
The good news is that throughout Bazaar we will help get you to a place of acceptance where you can allow any negative thoughts to be as they are so that they do not hijack your overall wellbeing and everyday life.
Go ahead and try to identify any recurring thoughts you may already have that make you feel low, worried or stressed. Try to think of at least 3 and make a note of these.
A lot of CBT exercises revolve around investigating our own thoughts and looking at them objectively. For this exercise, try to consider your recurring thoughts from an outside perspective. Sometimes we can find that our recurring thoughts are based on our feelings and opinions rather than facts.
Is there any evidence for these thoughts? Discuss with your mentor and make some notes.
Whether the thoughts you identified are negative or positive about yourself, somebody else or something else, they may not be thoughts you feel you can control.
Bazaar intends to help you have a more mindful and less judgemental approach to your thoughts.
If you put all of the skills into practice, Bazaar can help you change your thought processes and understand more about yourself and your feelings.
Go ahead and try to think of 3 thoughts you think would make you feel uplifted, confident and calm. Make a note of these now.
Well done for completing Session 2!
This week we looked in greater detail at our thoughts, feelings and behaviour and how each of these three concepts work together and have an overall impact on our mental health and wellbeing.
Throughout the day, try to capture at least three common negative thoughts and three common positive thoughts. Log these in your phone or on a notepad. Bring these thoughts to next week’s session to discuss with your mentor.
Now that you are aware of some of the ways to reduce your symptoms of low mood, worry and/or stress, be sure to try out your chosen coping strategies when you feel those symptoms are present. Record how you felt before your chosen coping activity and after.