Identify unhealthy thinking
- Trying to predict the future - how a situation will play out.
- Mind reading - trying to predict how someone is going to react.
- Over-generalising - extrapolating old, possibly unrelated experiences.
- Ignoring positive experiences.
- Taking things personally - making something sound like it’s on you.
- Catastrophising - making the situation worse than it actually is.
- ‘Should’ statements - unrealistic expectations on yourself.
- Black and white thinking (also known as ‘splitting’) - all good, or all bad.
- Labelling - ‘I’m useless’, ‘I’m ugly’, etc.
Problem solve, by avoiding unhealthy thinking
Use the basic six questions: What, How, Why, When, Who, Are
Find a problem, find solutions, and pick the best solution(s) to the problem.
This is not enough to make a judgement - why are you a failure? Who did you fail? How did you fail?
- ‘I am a failure, because I failed to make a phone call to say I was ill last night, and now I will lose my job’
That’s okay - can you call now? Can you go to the doctor to get a sick note, confirming you’re ill? Can you possibly use DEAR MAN skills to ask for it to be counted as a sick day? Can you get a friend or family member to vouch for you?
Again, this is not enough to make a judgement - who thinks you’re ugly? Why do they think that?
Okay firstly, freckles are adorable. Are they insecure about themselves? How do you feel about your freckles? How do others, excluding that friend feel about freckles? Have you considered makeup if they are distressing to you? How much of a problem are your freckles?
The HALT technique can help to quickly diagnose what is happening to you.
HALT stands for...
- Hunger - are you hungry? Not eating can cause a lack of energy, and lethargy.
- Anger - are you angry? Possibly due to a situation that has happened earlier.
- Lonely - are you lonely? Can they call a friend? Talk or do something fun socially?
- Tired - are you tired? Sleep deprivation can cause a drop in mood.
Use HALT when you need a quick reminder of your needs as a human being. Being in one of these states can increase unhealthy thoughts.
Plan your day & not waste time
- Socialising - social contact with people may help you feel better, even if you don’t want to.
- Hobbies and interests - work on an existing hobby, or find a new one.
- Exercise - as mentioned before, helps with dopamine/noradrenaline/serotonin release.
- Time for yourself - make sure you have time for yourself, to relax and de-stress.
- Bedtimes - plan regular and consistent bedtimes.
- Praise yourself by treating yourself to a little reward, such as a snack, or tickets to the cinema, etc when you achieve these goals.
- Assign yourself ‘worry time’ - an idea before bed, where you can write down what you are worried about and then order yourself to stop worrying. Literally putting your notes outside the room may help too.
Challenge your own thinking patterns here: