- 8 months ago
- Wedding: January 2017
I drink lemon balm tea. Really helps me to relax.
I drink lemon balm tea. Really helps me to relax.
EXERCISE! I can’t tell you what a difference a good hard workout can do. For me running is the best combo of energy burning cardio and nature appreciation/fresh air. But anything that gets the heart rate up for 30 minutes is beneficial.
My therapist told me that it’s partly because our brains don’t necessarily distinguish between real danger and imagined danger (anxiety) and the more primitive area of our brain responds to that perceived danger by releasing ‘fight or flight’ type hormones into the body. Sometimes the best way to *use up* those hormones is by literally running haha.
Yoga is also great for getting you to focus on mindfulness and being present in your body rather than in your swirling brain. But personally I have to start with heavier cardio or I can’t be still enough for it.
It may be very cliche, but shopping and ice cream help. And crafts. And I’ve been dumping way more sugar in my morning coffee.
It also keeps me afloat when I can get away from the city, but looks like I won’t even get two measly weeks away this year. The next few months are pretty sure to be a world of pain with very little to look forward to. Yeah, I’ll take the ice cream after everyone is in bed. Every little bit of happiness is welcome.
I read a book called Feeling Good by David Burns that is based of off Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It has seriously changed my life because it helped me to recognize cognitive distortions. I was so used to thinking like this I thought it was normal. Examples of cognitive distortions:
We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.
<h3>2. Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” Thinking).</h3>
In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure — there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.
<h3>4. Jumping to Conclusions.</h3>
Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us.
For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.
We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what ifquestions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).
For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).
With practice, you can learn to answer each of these cognitive distortions.
Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc.
A person engaging in personalization may also see themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that they were not responsible for. For example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t have happened.”
<h3>7. Control Fallacies.</h3>
If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”
<h3>8. Fallacy of Fairness.</h3>
We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us when we’re growing up and something doesn’t go our way, “Life isn’t always fair.” People who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it. Because life isn’t “fair” — things will not always work out in your favor, even when you think they should.
We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.
We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. A person may often believe they are trying to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if they have to be punished before they can do anything.
For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” Musts and oughts are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When a person directs should statements toward others, they often feel anger, frustration and resentment.
<h3>11. Emotional Reasoning.</h3>
We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect he way things really are — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
<h3>12. Fallacy of Change.</h3>
We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to change people because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.
<h3>13. Global Labeling.</h3>
We generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. These are extreme forms of generalizing, and are also referred to as “labeling” and “mislabeling.” Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves.
For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. When someone else’s behavior rubs a person the wrong way, they may attach an unhealthy label to him, such as “He’s a real jerk.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. For example, instead of saying someone drops her children off at daycare every day, a person who is mislabeling might say that “she abandons her children to strangers.”
<h3>14. Always Being Right.</h3>
We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.
<h3>15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.</h3>
We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.
The book is really good because it helps you figure out how to replace those thoughts with more rational ones. you can buy cheap used ones on amazon. I bought the digital copy though.
Thank you everyone for your responses. I am going to try some of these things and do some research when I have time. I hate going to the doctor and someone close to me was on Lexapro before and didn’t have a good experience on it so I’d rather not go down that path if possible.
I don’t have any suggestions for depression, because I have yet to find healthy ways to cope with it when I am in it. However, I have gotten relatively good at managing my anxiety, which in turn, has helped to reduce my depressive episodes.
I always have a layer or anxiety that I consider “average” for myself and that is manageable. However, to keep it from going beyond that here are some things I do regularly that seem to help.
wolfeyes : I’ve known that exercise is crucial to my mental well being for a long time just from personal experience. But your therapists explanation is interesting, makes sense. Thanks for sharing!
OP, I echo others that suggest exercise (it doesn’t have to be super intense but intense is good too sometimes). Fresh air/sunshine. Make sure your vitamin D is not deficient. Also music always helps me. Playing music during mundane chores around house or cooking or something can completely change my mood. Especially when I’ve been in too heavy of a podcast/news listening cycle.
Focused activities & repetitive activities help me too. Like knitting or coloring. Giving my dog a bath is a good one for me. Doing something nice/special for someone else can help. Watching a travel show that takes me away, to another place is a good trick too.
When I really get myself in a panic I will force myself to meditate/breathing exercises. I should do it more often but it’s just not my thing. Unless I am really going over the edge, then it can break the cycle & bring me back down to earth.
I’m with bubbles on some extra sugar in my coffee or ice cream too.
wildflowerz : Thank you. I’m going to start exercising again. I used to be very fit but working out and eating clean has just not been a priority for me and I know that’s bad. I felt so much better when I was taking better care of myself. I’ve been walking when I have time and I’m going to start using the elliptical we got.
wildflowerz : There’s a lot of really interesting science on it! https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a18807336/running-anxiety-depression/ That one is for running, but it applies to most cardio/high impact exercise. My therapist actually ‘prescribed’ it as my antidepressant for a time.
And focused repetitive activities is huuge for me too. I recently got into cross stitching and embroidery and it’s been a godsend. Having a creative outlet that’s also soothing is beneficial on a number of levels.
I watch a ton of really trashy TV.
Meditating, hiking, and swimming laps.