Cognitive Therapy and Stress Management
Today's life is quite stressful. Just watching the news is enough to keep us wide awake at night, not to mention daily stresses like money, family, health. Often we don't realize how these stresses affect our bodies and lead to health problems such as a sore back or shoulders, jaw problems, and headaches.
My approach to stress is two fold. First I use behavioral techniques including mindfulness meditations. The client learns various types of relaxation techniques they can use at home. We also look at work schedules, eating and sleeping habits, and physical activities; what can and cannot be altered.
The second approach is cognitive reconstruction, looking at the thought patterns that cause stress. Are you aware of your self-talk? Is it harsh, critical, and demanding; do you say to yourself "I should" or "I must" very often? The aim of cognitive therapy is to help encourage a kinder, more encouraging, accepting type of self-talk. Self-talk is a form of conversation that originates from our past. It includes within it all the voices that the child heard and internalizes while growing up (ex: family members, peers, media, and school teachers).
These voices may no longer be reflecting the present reality. A simple and common example: a client of mine firmly believed that she was unattractive because her parents, with media influence, said so. In fact, in front of me sat a very attractive young woman. Telling herself that she was unattractive negatively affected her self-worth and relationships.
It is important to recognize how your self-talk can create fear and anxiety and that by changing your self-talk, you change your perspective (like getting new glasses) and can improve your outlook on life.