STOPP and Be Mindful

 
 

STOP is a distress tolerance skill from dialectical behavior therapy we can use whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety or distressing emotions.

Often we allow our stress and anxiety and emotions to build and build all day without doing anything to calm them, trying to just ignore them and hoping they’ll go away. Then, when we finally can’t take it anymore and start feeling overwhelmed and desperate, things have often accumulated too much and begun to spiral downwards and it can be so hard to get any relief.

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Downward Spiral of Depression

downward spiralIn another post, we looked at the vicious cycles involving thoughts, behaviours, feelings, memories, and physical sensation that contribute to depression. When you’re experiencing depression, all of these aspects of your life interact with each other, generating a downward spiral bringing you deeper into depression. Negative patterns of thinking often have a adverse influence on behaviour; distressing physical symptoms often effect our feelings, leading to sadness and despair; and so on.

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitve Therapy in Theory and Practice

cbtCcognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or cognitive therapy, focuses on the relationships and connections between our thoughts, feelings, actions, and our body. This sounds simple, but what does it mean?

In the CBT/cognitive therapy model, we recognize that we are each affected by the environment in which we live. This environment involves both our current situations (family, friends, job, culture, various stressor and supports, etc.), as well as our past (our family history, past relationships, previous successes and failures, etc.).

Within our environment, there are four elements of ourselves that interact with each other:

  • Cognitive: thoughts, cognitions, beliefs, self-talk
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Three Minute Breathing Space

 

In a couple of recent posts, we looked at some things you can do to help stop stress and anxiety from becoming overwhelming, and to give yourself a breathing time out from stress, anxiety and depression. In this post, we look at the Three Minute Breathing Space, another great way to manage stress and anxiety, and to help your emotions from becoming overwhelming.

The Three Minute Breathing Space was developed as part of the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program for people with depression. Like the Breathing Time Out, it’s a way to bring your attention to the present, give yourself a break from whatever stress or emotions have been building up, and then return to the rest of your day, more refreshed and focused on the present.

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What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

zen meditationThe benefits you can experience from learning to become more mindful are virtually limitless. Mindfulness allows you to relate to and deal directly with whatever is happening in your life. Instead of struggling to escape, suppress or avoid distressing thoughts and feelings, mindfulness helps you approach whatever is going on in your life, in your thoughts, and with your emotions, without becoming overwhelmed.

When you start being more mindful and start living in the present moment, you’ll experience your life more fully, and become more in touch with yourself, who you are, what is important to you, and what you want out of life.

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Positive Psychology, Blessings and Three Good Things

A type of therapy called Positive Psychology, has been gaining popularity as research continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of positive psychology in helping people feel better and increase their well-being. Compared to many other approaches to therapy, positive psychology focuses less on identifying and fixing deficits, and more on recognizing and building on positives—looking at “What’s right with you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?”

In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman writes:

We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.

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Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulnessIn previous posts, we looked at the importance of giving ourselves time outs, as well as other techniques to manage stress and anxiety. Another great way we can keep things like stress, anxiety and depression from building throughout the day is to start bringing mindfulness into our everyday life.

We often talk about two broad categories of mindfulness practice. Formal mindfulness involves setting aside some time specifically for practicing mindfulness as we do when we engage in mindfulness meditation. Informal mindfulness, on the other hand, refers to finding ways to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives.

Since mindfulness simply involves paying attention to the present moment, mindfulness can be brought to anything we do. We can take a shower mindfully, shave and brush out teeth mindfully, eat mindfully, walk mindfully, drive mindfully, work on a computer mindfully, talk to people mindfully. Whatever it is we’re doing, we can do it mindfully.

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Positive Psychology and the Gratitude Journal

gratitudeHave you ever felt anxious and noticed yourself being extra vigilant, looking for any signs that something bad may be lurking nearby, on the lookout for all the things you might need to worry about?

This may seem like a good way to protect yourself from the things you’re anxious about, but it usually backfires. Since there is never any end to the list of “what ifs?” you can find to worry about, if you’re constantly looking out for things that could go wrong, you’ll usually find them, and this keeps you in a state of worry and anxiety.

Or have you ever been depressed, and found yourself focused on all of the negative things in your life, trying to figure out how they happened and how to solve them? Again, this sounds like a good way to fix what’s wrong in your life, but it often ends up making things worse. You keep finding more and more things to regret, more disappointments, more ways you don’t measure up to other people, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the negatives that keep adding up.

The more we’re on the lookout for something, the more likely we are to find it. But just as it is easy to find things to worry about or feel badly about when that’s what we’re focused on, it’s also easy to find some things to feel good about when that’s what we’re looking for and paying attention to.

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Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

mindfulnessMindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a relatively recent type of therapy that combines aspects of cognitive therapy with the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. MBCT was developed to help people struggling with depression, and it is also helpful in treating anxiety and low self-esteem.

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