2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Category: Worrying

Change unhelpful thinking habits

I am starting to enjoy my CBT sessions. During the last session we started looking at unhelpful thinking habits, and this was again an eye-opener. It is obvious that if you keep thinking these negative thoughts, nothing good will happen. It is a learnt behaviour, so in order to get out of it you need to re-train your thinking habits.

The forgotten tool belt

Part of last weeks homework was to look at diary for challenging negative thinking, and to complete a few of these. I managed to come up with a great example as I unfortunately made a bit of a mistake at work. To me it was not anything really bad: I had forgotten my tool belt at a customer’s house so needed to go back and collect it.
I fully understand from the company’s view that it was time wasted. I had to pick something up that I should have remembered in the first place. There would be a knock on affect for the rest of the day. On the other hand, we all make mistakes and I do not have a habit of leaving things.
As soon as I realised I had forgotten it and that I needed to speak to my manager, my brain went into overdrive. The thing that worried me about all of this was how my manager would react. In my head I thought that he would shout at me, tell me off, put me on an action plan, have me fired, complain that I was not of any use, say bad things to me and be very disappointed in me. This would lead on to me feeling down and bad for the rest of the day.

Mindset

So this was my mindset when I called him. Of course, he reacted in several of the above anticipated ways. Not bad enough to have me fired, but certainly very disappointed in me which I could hear in his voice, telling me to learn from this which annoyed me as it’s the first time in a year I’ve done this, saying it’s just not good enough and so on. I was left feeling very down and bad about this, much like I had done before calling him. This then impacted the rest of my day in a negative way. I was also stuck in this negative way of thinking, and could not shift my thoughts.

Better way of thinking

The idea with CBT here is that you try to challenge your negative thinking in a particular situation and come up with an alternative and much more helpful thought. Using this example, a better thought would be: he is entitled to be annoyed, and how he puts that across is just his way of communicating. Do not take it personally.
My rational brain tells me this is obviously a good way of thinking. As I am typing this, I am no longer anxious about it and it is pretty obvious that this thought is a much better one. I understand it and agree with it. Of course he was annoyed, I would be too. I would not speak that way, which says more about him than me. I also do not take it personally. After all, it was only a forgotten tool belt and the impact of this meant an hour of my day was spent retrieving it. In the big scheme of things, it could be a lot worse.

Change your way of thinking

My way of thinking in the above example is a classic example of catastrophising, which is one of the unhelpful thinking habits. To think that I would get fired over this is just that: believing that the worst possible thing would happen. By becoming aware of your thinking habits, you can then start to challenge your way of thinking and look at the situation in another way. As with any habits, this requires work and consistency. It can be done.

Next time

When you notice the unhelpful thinking, take a few seconds to analyse the situation and identify the negative thought.
There are always better and more helpful thoughts, find them and replace the negative thought with the helpful ones. Then let it go. In order to get better, you need to change your way of thinking. Simple, yet so hard. But it can be done.

For a great source of CBT, head to https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/

-Rosita

Speak up when it is not right

I started the CBT sessions a few weeks ago now however, it hasn’t quite happened the way it should have. The therapist cancelled the second appointment with very little notice then disappeared off the radar for days. This meant my anxiety went up because that is what it does. It may sound like nothing but it is a big thing to me. Not knowing what is going to happen and when means my brain goes into overdrive with questions and I struggle to get it to stop.

Putting a stop to it

Although my anxiety increased over this, which is quite ironic as the main aim of the CBT is to get help to reduce it, I did not feel that I could do anything about the situation. I would have just waited for her to get in contact with a new appointment and that would have been it. Having Helen in my life means I have someone always fighting my corner, so she stepped in as she thought it was very poorly handled by the therapist, and wanted to send her a well worded email. My initial thought was that of course we can’t do that, we can’t rock the boat, who am I to question what is happening. As you can see speaking up for myself is something I struggle with.

The email

Helen typed a well worded email, polite and to the point, which was sent to the therapist and the clinic. As a result of this, I now have a new therapist who I actually prefer. The clinic handled this very well too and were appreciative of my (Helen’s) feedback.
As an added bonus, I will also get a voucher for a very nice food store as a compensation for how this was handled.

The point

Sometimes we need to step outside our comfort zone, as uncomfortable as it may be. In this case, by telling someone that their actions were actually not acceptable, meant that I’m now in a much better place. Although it made me anxious at the time, I’m really glad now that I did just that.

And if I can do it, so can you. Don’t spend life being told what to do. If it doesn’t sit right with you, then you must say so.

-Rosita

Traveling with anxiety

London bound!

Had you told me five or ten years ago that I would be anxious about returning to London I would have laughed in your face, wondering what planet you were on. This is London we’re talking about, the amazing city full of culture and history, iconic red buses and black cabs, where you can do and get anything you want. I spent 19 years there, and to start off with it was absolutely brilliant. As time went on and life happened, I slowly got stuck in a downward spiral with depression and anxiety. Only I did not know about it at the time. There were a lot of things that triggered the way I felt, and at this point I do not want to talk about it. Now is a very happy time and I intend to keep it that way, at least with the things I can control, then hope I have enough resilience to deal with the curved balls when they hit.

Passport

I am going to London next week for one day only as I have to renew my passport. Being Swedish in the UK and living in Scotland means I can only do that in London at the Swedish Embassy. Unless I were to do so in Sweden during a visit but I decided long ago against that as…. you guessed it, I worry about it too much! Because that is what I do.

Worrying

I am clearly a worrier, which goes hand in hand with anxiety. I worry about the smallest things, for instance if someone sends me a text message without a happy face then my brain goes mad. What does that mean? Are they not happy? Do I have to find out if they are struggling so I need to help them? Are they not happy with me? What did I do, is this because I did not laugh at their joke? Oh no, I can’t believe I did not do that, why on earth didn’t I? What can I say to them to make up for it? These thoughts go on and on and on. I spend so much time and energy on this and it also stops me from doing all the things I need to do.
I have not been back to London on my own for a long time now. Thinking about getting it all done and being in the right place at the right time gets the brain working overtime.

Triggers

There are a few things that brings this on. Knowing that I will be at a busy airport, having to fight through the crowds to get onto the train and continuing on the tube in late rush hour. I find it really stressful with all the people, the crowds, the stress and rushing around, making sure I’m standing in the right place at the right time. On top of this, what I find the worst by far, is the noise. Last year I was really struggling with loud noises, the background noises in crowds and so on. During a conversation with my counsellor she suggested using good head phones when leaving the house, to keep the noise out. I have since brought a great pair of head phones!

Game changer

Getting the head phones was a game changer. I used them so much, in particular in big crowds such as train stations and shopping centres. It took a little while but I also realised that as long as you turn them on, they don’t need to be connected to a music player and play music as they can still block the noise out. When I put them on I stepped in to my little bubble where I felt safe, and the world was quiet. I found this helped me enormously as it allowed me to go out and do things, as sitting at home doing nothing is never good for anyone.

Check list

I know that the trip will be stressful, but there are a few things I will do to try and keep the anxiety and stress levels down:
– Use the above mentioned head phones
– Have all locations and times added to my Google calendar, to always see where to be and at what time
– Bring an empty water bottle, book and phone charger
– Bring pen and paper to write things down on. When I get too stressed I can’t retain much information and need to write things down.
– Only bring the bare essentials, and certainly no liquids, so I don’t have to worry about going through the security at the airport

We all react differently to things, and there is not one solution to our problems. You have to try different things then stick to what works for you.

I will let you know how it goes.

-Rosita

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