On my journey so far, I have learnt a few techniques that I think are worth sharing. Take time out to practice. Maybe (hopefully) at least one of them can help you when you’re faced with uncomfortable feelings/situations.
Hot cross bun: formulation: trigger, thoughts, feelings, physiology, behaviour.
Positive data log: We notice the negative things about ourselves, others, situations – and just dismiss or forget anything else. We sponge the negatives, and sieve the positives or the more ok stuff. It’s helpful to read back through your positive diary, to help realise that good things do happen, and to balance out those negatives. Review your record every week or month – and at the end of each year.
Activity diary: Write briefly in each box: What you did, one word that describes your mood, and rate your intensity of your mood on a scale of 0-100%, your sense of achievement for the activity on a scale of 0-10 (A0-10) your sense of closeness to others (C0-10), and sense of enjoyment (E0-10). An activity may be sitting down, or lying in bed, not only washing dishes, walking ect. After completing the diary, you might notice patterns in your mood variations and how particular activities affect your mood. You will then be able to plan a more healthy range of activities which give you a sense of achievement, enjoyment and closeness.
Behavioural experiment: Thought? What are you going to do? What do you fear is going to happen? What are the alternative predictions? What things may get in your way? How will you overcome these? Then, review your predication. Write your original prediction. Briefly describe what happened. Learning: how would you change your original thought to account for the new learning? Based on the new thought what would you do differently in the future?
Continuum: challenge and change your core beliefs.
Pros and cons, list them!
Mundane task focusing: For me, this task is super tricky! I think because a lot of the time my mind isn’t really on my day to day tasks, I’m on autopilot. My mind wanders and I don’t even realise it. The good thing about mundane task focusing, is that you are not having to do anything extra in your day, it is just about changing how you pay attention to things you are already doing. Changing how I pay attention to things I am already doing is a habit that I need to form. This habit is not about attempting to control my thoughts or making them go away. It is actually about allowing these thoughts to be present in my mind, and at the same time choosing to shift my attention back on to something in the present moment.
Thought challenging: Situation: what happened? where? when? who with? how? Emotions, moods 0-100%, what emotion did I feel at the time? how intense? Physical sensations: what did I notice in my body? where did I feel it? Unhelpful thoughts or images? What went through my mind? What was it about the situation that disturbed or upset me? What did those thoughts/images/memories means to me or tell me about the situation? What am I responding to? What could be the worst thing that or could happen? What is the one really upsetting or hot thought? Alternative or realistic thought? Is this fact or opinion? What would someone else say about this situation? What is another way of looking at this? What advice would I give someone else? Is my reaction in proportion to the actual event? Is this really as important as it seems? What I did or what I could do: what’s the best response? What could I do differently? Act wisely! What will be most helpful for me or the situation? Consider the consequences.
Grounding: 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique: Start with deep breathing. Acknowledge 5 things you can SEE, 4 things you can TOUCH, 3 things you can HEAR, 2 things you can SMELL, 1 thing you can TASTE.
Breathing: Square breathing: Square breathing is a powerful stress reliever. It’s a simple, easy and effective way to calm yourself.
- Inhale for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
- Exhale for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4…
You can slow it down to a pace that is more comfortable to you for example, inhale for 4, hold for 2 ect ect. The pattern needs to stay the same each round.
TRAP & TRAC: Trigger: upsetting event… Response, thoughts and feelings about the event… Avoidance patterns (what I do to cope with these thoughts and feelings, eg avoiding, escaping or withdrawing). What are the short and long term consequences or my avoidance pattern?
TRAC. Trigger, response, alternative coping. What are the likely short and long term consequences of my alternative coping plan.
Compassionate thought diary: what is the trigger? What is the self critical part of me saying? What emotion(s) am I feeling? What physical sensations or behaviours go with these feelings? What are some other ways of viewing this situation that might be more realistic, kinder or more helpful to me? How will I feel about this in 1 week or 1 month or 1 year? What can I do to cope and look after myself now?
Distancing: Take a third person perspective on yourself. Using this tool can help you to realise that your worries are not really realistic and it’s okay! STOP, STEP BACK, OBSERVE. Notice what’s happening – your thoughts, physical sensations, emotions, images/memories. Notice the way you’re interpreting what they mean and how that’s affecting you. Notice the unhelpful thoughts. It can help to say them differently, in a non-threatening way: slowly, in a squeaky or comic voice. I often hear my thoughts in the voice of Jim Carrey, he makes me laugh!