For human beings, it is natural to experience distressing thoughts and emotions. Therapy is a very useful way to become aware of our internal and external experiences that trigger unhealthy and ineffective behaviors that conflict with an individual’s values and goals. Below are a couple of tools that can be integrated into your daily routine to help you live a healthier and more meaningful life.
Recognize cognitive distortions, say them out loud, reframe the thought to be more positive evidence based, replace but with and, challenge and reframe judgmental thinking.
Scheduling in responsibilities and pleasurable tasks on a day to day basis to help with mood and motivation.
Mindful breathing, Diaphragm breathing, loop breathing, 4-7-8.
Progressive muscle relaxation:
Relaxing and tensing muscles to relieve distress and tension in the body and mind.
Name it to tame it/Befriend the problem:
This is anxiety it is here to protect me and is adaptive sometimes. Watch the anxiety’s process as it comes on and dissipates with proper breathing/distress tolerance techniques.
Observe, describe and participate in the present moment. You can do this by attuning to your senses (i.e. sight, sound, taste, touch, smell), doing one thing at a time and by practicing being nonjudgmental, one-mindfully and responding effectively versus reactively in order to achieve goals (i.e. yoga, running, swimming, cleaning, doing dishes).
Practice opposite behavior to modulate internal/external arousal (i.e. say no instead of yes to going out drinking with friends, whisper instead of scream during an argument, doing homework instead of procrastinating).
Implementing skills that help us to cope during a crisis by helping a person to “tolerate” a distressing situation rather than “changing” it (i.e. using gel packs, hot/cold baths, natural remedies, calling a friend, thinking about a difficult feeling/thought and making a plan on how to deal with it).
The ability to interact with others effectively and productively in order to maintain healthy and positive relationships (i.e. assertive communication, setting boundaries based on self-respect, balance priorities versus demands).
Ashlyn Fisher, MSW, RSW
Ashlyn Fisher completed her undergraduate degree at Western University in Honours Psychology and obtained her Masters of Social Work degree at The University of Toronto. Ashlyn began her clinical practice working with individuals of all ages and backgrounds suffering from eating disorders and co-occurring mental health issues.