We all experience stress in our lives; it is inevitable. Each of us deals with stress differently. Unfortunately, many people turn to alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to manage their stress. This only worsens the effects of substance use and makes mental illness even more complicated.
Truth be told, many of us adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms to experience mental relief. But when we leave these unhealthy approaches unchecked, they will lead to significant consequences in our life.
Rather than feeling stuck in the same, repeated cycle of substance use or other unhealthy habits, consider trying therapy for stress reduction. Therapies exist to help organize your thoughts and retrain your brain. One popular and valuable therapeutic modality is known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This approach will help you to better understand the connections that lie between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. In turn, you will be able to respond to stress proactively.
Stress and Thought Process
One important function of the brain is that it processes your thoughts. While thought processing is essential, hyperactive thought processing can be a coping mechanism. For example, a person might overtax themselves by working four hours of overtime for several days in a row. Nonetheless, overworking often worsens stress levels.
Given that our brain allows us to think, we must still process and decide which thoughts are worthy of action. Does the person in question continue to work the extra hours or opt for a different action plan? If they continue the same behavior, they inevitably overwork themselves, resulting in severe stress. Take this as a cue that it may be time to think about thinking.
Stress management is crucial because when it is not properly managed, its effects can contribute to many health issues. Some issues include:
- Lack of concentration
- Substance abuse issues
- Poor diet
What Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that retrains the brain. It helps us to recognize harmful thought patterns and cognitively alter them. CBT is not some newly discovered miracle cure. In fact, it has been around since the 1960s.
This therapy allows us to become aware of ways of thinking that seem automatic but may be untrue or harmful. Using CBT, a therapist can help patients understand their thought patterns and how their thoughts affect behavior. Further, the patient can grasp how it is possible to change ineffectual habits.
Those referring individuals to CBT for stress management believe that actions in our lives are not the only cause of tension; it is also caused by how we think about the events in our lives. CBT is a treatment for all levels and reasons of stress, including acute stress disorder from post-traumatic stress reactions. Acute stress disorder can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when it is not treated.
Discovering the benefits and scope of care of cognitive-behavioral therapy continues to grow. For example, cognitive restructuring through CBT can assist people with PTSD by helping them make sense of a traumatic event or situation. People experiencing trauma may not remember how the event happened or may blame themselves. Cognitive restructuring can help them sort out and validate their traumatic experiences.
The Benefits of CBT
Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s benefits reach many needs, including physical and mental health issues. Mental health is the fundamental purpose of CBT because healthcare professionals believe people’s thoughts influence their mental health. Still, you may be surprised at the variety of uses for the skills one learns from this therapy. Some notable benefits include:
- Communication in resolving conflicts: Skills acquired from CBT foster improved and effective communication, allowing people to solve relationship, friendship, and work-relationship issues.
- Prevent and overcome substance abuse: Many treatment centers include CBT in their programs to help prevent relapse and provide alternatives to medications.
- Ease physical pain: CBT may improve chronic pain by decreasing a patient’s thought that the worst will happen and using self-efficacy to manage pain.
- Coping with grief: The loss of a loved one takes a person through the stages of grief. CBT skills can help a person manage depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental issues associated with the grieving process.
- Controlling our emotions: Emotions are affected by our mental health condition. Applying skills adopted from CBT can significantly improve our emotions and overall well-being.
As we have learned, our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected—all three components influence our well-being. Mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (MBCBT) combines mindfulness meditation and techniques with CBT skills to create a more effective and inclusive treatment.
Simply stated, mindfulness is our ability to live in the moment; it is being present in our existence and aware of what we are doing right now. Mindfulness therapy includes meditation techniques.
Therapists sometimes combine CBT therapy with mindfulness meditation, teaching awareness and accepting our thoughts void of judgment. Both treatments require the patient’s commitment and self-efficacy.
At SoCal Mental Health, we understand that it is easy for the mind to wander in stressful situations and everyday responsibilities. However, being in the moment requires self-assessment, including asking yourself how you are doing right now. It also requires awareness of your breathing and physical faculties. Our programs work to help you identify negative thoughts and behaviors that are a response to stressful situations. Our goal is to provide you with effective coping mechanisms to handle and overcome stress. Often, CBT is a big part of this. If you or a loved one is currently in need of help, please reach out. To find out more, contact us today by calling (888) 627-6225.