Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Exercises (FEEL Better!)Mar 01, 2022
feeltrapped by a cycle of negative thoughts and then possibly destructive behaviors that go round and round and it just doesn't
feelright? Maybe depressed, maybe anxious, but overall you would like to change how you feel. Is there anything that can help? I think there is. I'm Barbara Heffernan and I'm a psychotherapist who has been helping people recover from anxiety and trauma for over 15 years with videos designed to help you live a happier life. Subscribe to my channel and activate the bell to be notified when I post a new video every Tuesday. Whether you're working with a therapist or looking for some self-help CBT techniques, this video can help.
therapyis one of the best and most effective research treatments for anxiety and depression. In this video, I'm going to explain what CBT is and why it helps. In order to explain
therapy. I think it's very helpful to have a visual representation of it, but first I want to start with the target. The goal is to make you feel
better. What is CBT? So CBT looks at our feelings, our thoughts, which we call cognitions, and our behaviors. And analyze how they interact with each other. Most of us are very aware of how our feelings impact our thoughts and how our feelings impact our behaviors.
If we don't feel good and think, I don't feel like exercising, then we don't exercise. Many of us operate in a way where we are driven by our feelings and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy looks at how we are also driven by our thoughts. So how we think impacts how we feel and how we think impacts how we behave. And then of course how we behave affects how we think and how we behave affects how we feel. So, for example, in the example I just gave of you don't feel like exercising and you get up and do it anyway, you'll probably feel
betterafterward, you'll feel more energized.
Then that behavior will have changed how you feel. And that's a really key point because I've been looking at a lot of videos, I've been looking at a lot of social media on
cognitivebehavioral therapy. And these days, it's very, very popular to say, you know, how you think creates your world, how you think creates how you feel. And it's just kind of true. Plus, you're forgetting that half of CBT is about behavior. So let me give you an example of how this might work for someone who has depression in general. People with depression have incredibly negative self-talk.
They will talk to themselves in a way that they would never talk to a friend. And if you're doing that, it's very helpful to start being aware of it so that you can gradually change it. But let's say someone is extremely depressed and can't get off the couch and they lie on the couch all day, maybe it's a whole bag of chips, um, he starts to say to himself, you know, I'm fat, I'm lazy. , I'm a failure. They end up feeling worse and worse and worse. They probably don't get off the couch and everything falls apart.
Behaviors contribute to thoughts, they contribute to feelings, and it goes round and round. An example of how this might work for someone who has anxiety. Let's say his boss is abrupt with you and corrects you and you have a lot of anxiety, you might immediately start to think that I'm going to lose my job and then if I lose it, I won't be able to pay my rent. And if I can't pay the rent, I'll be homeless. And within about 30 seconds of your boss correcting something you did, you're out on the street and homeless and meanwhile your body is fully activated.
Your pulse is going up. As you feel emotionally anxious, your thoughts become more anxious, your physiological body becomes more anxious, and you are probably shutting down more and more. Anxiety creates a lot of avoidance behavior. Then that anxiety can be so bad that you don't actually work for the rest of the day, which only makes the situation worse and makes you feel more anxious about having problems at work. So before I go any further, can you tell me in the comments below if this loop makes sense for you? So clients come into my office and say, Barbara, I don't like the way I feel.
Help me change how I feel. And the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to directly change our feelings. So, to change your feelings, you have to change your way of thinking or your behavior. So with CBT therapy, we focus on where we can change cognitions, which thought patterns are incredibly unhelpful or destructive. We call them cognitive distortions because in general our super negative thinking is usually quite distorted. And then we also look at what changes we can make in behavior. So one of the commonly used tools in cognitive behavioral therapy is called a thought log.
In fact, I call it CBT recording because the term thought recording ignores behaviors. And then I want to take a moment and talk about behaviors. So, unhealthy behaviors generally fall into the categories of compulsive behaviors or avoidance behaviors. Compulsive behaviors may be overworking yourself by eating or drinking too much, and avoidance behaviors may be not driving if you are afraid to drive without socializing. If you have social anxiety or withdraw, if you're depressed, procrastinating, if you're afraid of some of the work you're doing, or if you have a perfectionist streak and are afraid you won't be perfect, you may want to put off.
So all those things would fall into avoidance behaviors. And most people are well aware of how destructive compulsive behaviors can be, but they may not be as aware of how destructive avoidance behaviors can be. So avoidance doesn't work. And I talk about this in one of my other videos, traumatic memory processing, and I'll put the link above and also in the avoidance is numbing category. When we numb our feelings or sublimate problems, we just push them down and pretend they're not there. And in general, those two things reinforce fear, increase anxiety, and can also increase depression.
The other category of behaviors are healthy behaviors. And you will need to determine what are healthy behaviors for you. Some common healthy behaviors that can substitute for avoidant or compulsive behaviors would be calling a friend, going for a walk, sometimes just taking a shower, asking someone for help. Ask someone to help you face something you have been avoiding. Meditate, do yoga, cuddle a pet. There are a lot of different healthy behaviors. And as you go through the CBT process and work with the CPT log, you can write down which healthy behaviors you try and which ones make you feel better.
So go back to the CBT log for a second and you can take a screenshot of this page and then go back and use it. But you can really do your record on a regular notepad. So if you want to write down the facts of what happened in this situation, column, your feelings, your emotional and physical feelings, and then label them on a scale of zero to 10, how disturbing is the emotion you're having? And then useless thinking to categorize useless thinking into one of the useless thinking styles, which I'll summarize in a moment, but I also have a whole video on CBT, useless thinking styles, which is linked above and you can access it.
Um, and then also knowing what kind of useless behaviors you did in that situation or would normally do. And again, those behaviors can be compulsive or avoidant. And then, in your log, write down an alternate thought. How can you rephrase unhelpful thinking? If it's a cognitive distortion, you can know it's not true. This is very important. If you can identify one of your thoughts as a cognitive distortion, you can be sure that it is not accurate. And then one very helpful thing to help you reflect on this is what would you say to a friend, write in your log what you would say to a friend if you were in the same situation and then write down what are some alternative behaviors that might be more adaptable and help you feel better.
And then the last column of the record is for you. Once you have implemented the alternative behavior or alternative thought and are able to write down how you feel now, rate that feeling. Go back and compare it to your original feeling and see what has changed for you. Hurrah. I would like to emphasize that changing your behavior is key to making you feel better. Changing your behavior actually communicates with your old brain. It communicates to your emotional brain that things are better and that even if you don't feel better when you initiate the behavior, you will probably feel better afterwards and this is something that a lot of people don't understand, that our behavior doesn't. get carried away by our feelings.
We can't want to do something and we can do it anyway. A very, very useful phrase to keep in mind is move a muscle, change a thought. When we move a muscle, our thoughts change. If there's one thing I'd like you to take away from the video today, it's the importance of your behavior. It is the importance of initiating positive and healthy behaviors that help you feel better. As I mentioned before, much of our society right now is focused on how you think and simply changing the way you think will make you feel better. But many of us cannot change our way of thinking.
So with the whole CBT cycle, you really need to identify where you can intervene, whether you can intervene to change your thoughts or whether you can intervene to change your behavior. And just to reiterate the thought reframing, basically identify the cognitive distortion you're having. Is it a projection? Is it something about the future? Is it a projection into the future of something horrible happening, that is catastrophic? Is it mind reading? Is it to think that you know what another person is thinking when you haven't asked and they haven't told you? Is there evidence of the thought you are having or does it just feel true?
And the key question is, can you see it another way? So I go over common cognitive distortions in detail in the video I posted last week called CBT Unhealthy Thinking Styles. So it would definitely be worth watching to pair with this video to find out how to move forward. Changing the way you think is not easy and changing the way you behave is not easy either. Both require practice, effort and practice. And if you find it nearly impossible to change the way you think about yourself, chances are you've had some sort of trauma in your past and repeated negative thoughts.
You have been living with them for a long time. And I have a pdf that works really well for what's called transforming your negative core beliefs and you can download it, um, at the links below. So I'm very interested to know if this video has helped you understand how your thoughts, behaviors and feelings interact with each other and how you can focus on your thoughts or behaviors to feel better. Let me know below in the comments. If you liked this video please give me a thumbs up. It helps me know I'm on the right track and motivates me to keep creating more content for you until next time.
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