Applying Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Every Day Life

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular short-term, evidence-based modality used by many mental health practitioners for the treatment of an assortment of mental disorders that teaches applicable skills for everyday life. The theory behind it goes something like this: Our thoughts affect our emotions, which in turn, affect our actions. So if we ruminate over negative thoughts that enter our minds, those thoughts will make us feel like crap. Feeling like crap will incite us to make unwise, rash, myopic decisions.

Controlling our thoughts is often easier said than done. I struggle with obsessive, negative, sometimes paranoid thoughts constantly and often am controlled by my thoughts instead of my thoughts being controlled by me. So what are some ways of controlling thoughts researchers and mental health practitioners advise? One is meditation. This practice involves emptying the mind and welcoming whatever thoughts want to flow through, regardless of content, and without judgment. To quote Buddhist monk and teacher Sunryu Suzuki: “Leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” This encourages desensitization to negative thoughts and surrender to the inevitability that they will come up at least every once in a while.

Journaling is another way to handle negative thoughts in a healthful manner. Writing them down, with or without showing them to anybody, can be a healthful way to feel that you’ve gotten them out of your system and can now move on — that you’ve “handled” them instead of bottling them up inside and avoiding acknowledging their existence. Writing them down can also make possible solutions to a problem clearer.

Reframing thoughts is another helpful strategy. Reframing thoughts involves seeing the positive even in negative situations, much like the titular character in the movie Pollyanna. For example, not getting hired could mean you get an even better job.

Breathing exercises can also aid in controlling the negative emotions that arise when we have a negative thought by slowing, deepening, and evening out our breathing pattern and relaxing our neck, back, and shoulders. The medical and mental health communities now realize how deep the connection is between physical and mental health, and this is a perfect example.

Engaging in pleasurable activities, such as hobbies, is another way to deal with negative thoughts and emotions, because they are less likely to pop up while you are doing something you enjoy. These activities result in feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that naturally put you in a good mood.

These are just some of the techniques that could be helpful in dealing with negative, controlling thoughts and allowing you to take back your life. Negative thoughts are a natural part of life and will never entirely go away. However, it is possible to decrease their intrusion into your life, as well as the intensity of their effect when they do appear. And due to the neuroplasticity of the brain, after a while of dealing with negative thoughts and emotions in appropriate ways, it will become second-nature to do so. Does anyone else find themselves dealing with negative thoughts, and what practices have you found useful in managing them?

My Experience Using a Menstrual Cup

A couple years ago I ordered a free (minus shipping and handling) set of two menstrual cups (different sizes) from rebelkate.com. I had been hearing about menstrual cups for a while by then and was interested in trying them, considering the touted benefits. Namely, they can be used up to twelve hours (and I have even used them closer to 24 hours at the end of my cycle, when my period is light), they eliminate the risk of TSS, and they are reusable (so better for both the environment and the wallet). Many women also claim they ease cramps. For many months after first trying them, I found it took a lot of time and effort to insert them correctly (they need to sit right up against the cervix to guard against leaks) and also to take them out (a tight seal keeps leaks from happening but also can make it difficult to pull the cup out). At this point, after lots of practice, I have far fewer issues and feel I can offer some points of advice on the topic.

I find it is convenient to empty them in the morning in the shower because there is no mess and the blood simply washes down the drain. When inserting, there are many different folds you can try, and there are many different diagrams of these folds available on the internet. I have found the C-fold or punch-down fold works for me. After inserting, run your finger around the cup to ensure it popped completely open. If not, take it out and try again. I have had the experience of feeling a pinching feeling sometime after having inserted it and realizing I hadn’t ensured my cup popped open completely. While you’re still getting used to using your cup, you can wear a pad or panty liner for extra protection. Taking out the cup requires pinching it slightly at the base so that the seal breaks.

Adept use of this cup took me some time. There were points I wondered if it weren’t for me and I should just give up. However, I’m glad I stuck with it, as it turns out to have been well worth it. I hope this post helps someone out there who might be struggling with theirs or who is on the fence about trying one. Do you currently use a menstrual cup? What have been your experiences with it? For those who haven’t, what are your questions or concerns?

Sustainable Living

In the past few years, I’ve become more interested in sustainable, less-wasteful living. Not that many decades ago, before the proliferation of easily-attainable, inexpensive, disposable options, Americans were used to living sustainably. It was the only option. However, today many (including myself) rely on paper towels, disposable feminine hygiene products, plastic bags, paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic water bottles, and/or disposable razors, etc. These things are harmful to the planet, costly, and must be bought regularly. Thankfully, there are “greener” options that will save you money, time, and guilt. Some of these I’ve already incorporated into my life and some I’ve yet to try.

Microfiber cleaning cloths and cloth napkins can be substituted for paper towels and paper face napkins. Cloth hankerchiefs can be substituted for facial tissue. Reusable cloth bags can be substituted for plastic grocery bags. An electric razor, safety razor, or using the tip for disposable razor blades I gave in my blog post entitled “Tried & True Life Tips I’ve Picked Up” can replace constantly buying new blades. A menstrual cup (I’ll be doing a blog post about my experience having used one for two years now) and reusable cloth pads can replace disposable pads and tampons. These are just a few of the many replacements I have found. Many, many more can be found through a Google search, which, if you’re like me, you didn’t even know exist (Examples: reusable beeswax wraps and fabric bowl covers for food storage!). Even if you’re not all about hugging trees, saving money by replacing disposable items with non-disposable items and having a way-shorter shopping list each week are pretty nice perks by themselves! I’m also interested in starting my own compost pile and possibly starting to make my own hygiene and cleaning products. There are a lot of areas in which I could improve to live a more sustainable life. There are other ways to be gentler to the planet, such as buying secondhand clothes and local food. I hope to write more on these topics in the future as I incorporate more of them into my life and get more proficient living responsibly and simply, and I hope you’ll challenge yourself right along with me.

The Art of Shower-Sitting

So I mentioned in my last post that one of my hobbies is shower-sitting. This is a hobby that I have had since early childhood, starting with me getting the stomach flu almost every year around my birthday. The hot water felt so good raining down on my ache-y, chilling body, but I didn’t have the strength to stand the entire time. So I got the idea to sit in the tub. Ever since that time, I have used long, hot, sit-down showers as a relaxful respite from sickness, stress, and looming responsibilities. I was lucky for a long time to have my own bathroom so I didn’t have to worry about sitting in someone else’s filth. I have since lost my own bathroom, so have taken to using a $10 plastic patio chair. Generally, I turn off any glaring lights and either have it pitch black or leave on an indirect light or light some candles. This aids greatly in relaxation, especially if you have a headache. With nothing but the roar of the water in your ears and its steady drumming on your back/shoulders/head, etc, the rest of the world and its noise is locked out and you get a partial sensory-deprivation experience. As an introvert, it’s especially important for me to get away from the rest of the world and have time to myself. I’ll sit with my back to the spray, as well as away from the spray. I have even read books this way (with my back facing the spray), which protects the book. Sometimes I use this time to think of absolutely nothing and let my mind go blank, engaging in a form of meditation. Sometimes I use it to brainstorm and reflect. My greatest ideas and epiphanies generally come during two periods: In the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, or during a sit-down shower. And sometimes it’s cathartic to have a good cry in the privacy of the shower stall. Granted, it’s a waste of water (I’ll admit some of my sit-down showers have been 45 minutes long, although I have not taken one nearly this long in several years and most are under 20 minutes), but it’s a pretty mild vice to have, comparatively-speaking. It used to be that taking a sit-down shower was associated with being depressed, elderly, or hung over, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find that, while it’s still considered somewhat of a weird taboo, it’s become much more popular as of late. Does anyone else reading this indulge in this pastime? Let me know! And if not, I’d recommend it as a cheap and easy stress and pain-buster!

Let’s Talk Hobbies

Some people have many, some a couple, some none. Some are expensive, require a lot of skill, and/or take up a lot of time. Some are free, require no special skills/talent, and/or can be done anytime/anywhere. Some people prioritize making time for them, while others only do them as an afterthought when they’re bored.

What are your hobbies? What do you consider the definition of “hobby” to be? According to dictionary.com, it’s “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”. Using that definition, my hobbies are reading, writing poetry, watching movies, gluttony, taking sit-down showers (more about this in another post!), taking drives, and — my newest! — blogging. I hope to add exercising to that soon, although I guess there are definite non-pleasurable aspects to that activity when you’re first starting out in the pitiable shape I’m in. In listing them, I notice many of my hobbies are passive, solitary, and/or unhealthful.

Do you find you have the time/motivation to put into your hobbies after taking care of your daily responsibilities? Do you consider them important enough to prioritize as part of self-care so that you don’t get burnt out and so your entire identity doesn’t become worker/parent/spouse/etc? I’d love to hear what place (if any) hobbies have in your life.

Not Finishing Books (or Other Things) We Start

I’ve loved books since before I could even read, starting when my mother read to me as a baby. I used to feel bad about not finishing a book I had started. However, as I got older, I realized how fleeting time is and how many books exist, and began to “quit” some books early. It might not be that I quit some forever, but rather that I pick them back up at a later date when the time is right and they are ready to “speak” to me. Some may never have anything to say that I want to hear (here’s looking at you, As I Lay Dying, third time did not end up being “the charm” :-/). Do you stop reading before the end of a book if you’re not enjoying it/getting anything out of it? Could this concept of putting it down to perhaps pick up again later at another time in your life apply to other endeavors you “quit”, as well?

Welcome to WritingOne3583

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! I feel drawn to having an outlet for myself to write about things that interest, bother, confuse, or inspire me. I wrote many short stories and letters as a child, kept a diary as a teenager, and have written several poems, as well. I find writing cathartic, and it’s one of the few things I believe I do with some level of skill (but that’s for you to decide). My blog topics will most likely be varied and a bit “all over the place”. I hope you enjoy the content and can relate or at least get a chuckle every once in a while out of my latest writing project. If no one reads my blog, it will just be an online journal, which is fine, as well. Regardless, I am going to strive to be as honest as possible and only write what’s on my mind and heart. Ttys!