This month marks close to eight months of learning to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help combat my anxiety, my therapist and made the decision to take some time off so that I could work on my health. Still, every day I apply everything that I have learned and are still applying them today. So I wanted to share one of the things that I have learned.
One thing I have learned is called “Nonjudgemental Focused Emotional Awareness” associated with mindfulness breathing.
The point of this exercise is to see how you do at not judging the thoughts that come through your head while you are focusing on your breathing. In my own experience, it has been helpful to break down my thoughts into a spreadsheet that breaks down each session.
The practice asks for two-ten minute sessions of mindfulness breathing. It is never easy staying in the moment when doing focus breathing, so this activity asks you to focus on when your thoughts wondered in the session and how you judged these thoughts.
At the beginning of my CBT journey, my thoughts during mindfulness breathing were mostly focused on my current stress at the time with my most recent bouts of anxiety and depression.
The first step is to log these thoughts in a way that you can look at them after the session. I used a spreadsheet.
The next step is to analyze the physical sensations and emotions related to these thoughts. It was not uncommon during these sessions to feel overly anxious, have fatigue and all the physical sensations that come with anxiety and panic attacks. (See my Poem Little White Pill.)
This step gives real insight into how physical sensations and emotions play an important part in judging your experience when doing mindfulness.
The third steps ask you to analyze your behaviors at the time. Trouble keeping your eyes closed, fidgeting, can’t keep still, or any behaviors associated with that session. These are often distractions based on a mind that is wandering around in thoughts for so long.
Tthe last step and the hardest for me is to rate on a scale of 0-10 on how effective you were about not judging the experience. The higher the score on the scale means that you were more judgmental. In my own experience, I often scored 7-9 because I was at the beginning of my CBT journey, and I really had trouble letting the thoughts that came to me during mindfulness breathing to control me and I always judged myself harshly.
This exercise in being non-judgmental on the thoughts that run through your head can make major differences in your anxiety, it really made a difference for me. Over time, I was able to use this practice to let go of my negative thoughts, and even when they entered my mind during mindfulness breathing and meditation I learned to bring myself back to my breath and let these thoughts go.
The only time it has not been overly effective is when it comes to my social anxiety, but I am learning to be better at letting the negative thoughts associated with social anxiety.
I hope this post is helpful. I know that every CBT book out there is a little different so the practices may vary. I am going to my therapist for my CBT training but there are good books out there in the world.
Lastly, what are your experiences with CBT?
Always Keep Fighting.
Photo Credit: unsplash-logoJonatan Pie