FRIENDS! I’M WRITING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS BLOG! A few days ago, I talked with Dr. Matt Iwaniec, a psychologist at AHN, who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy.
I’ve listened to some podcasts about CBT and was super interested in learning some tangible strategies to help deal with negative thinking and anxiety. Dr. Matt was super awesome and shared his techniques to help improve your mood, lessen your anxiety and set yourself up for the best day possible!
His number one tip is to follow the FACE method. F is for “focus on what’s in your control versus what’s not.” He says once you’ve identified what you can control, focus on that. It could be something as mundane as doing a load of laundry or finishing a work task that you’ve been putting off.
A is for “acknowledging your thoughts and feelings.” Feeling stress and anxiety during this pandemic are VERY NORMAL FEELINGS to have during this very abnormal time. It’s not a bad thing that you’re feeling stressed, as unpleasant as it may be, but allow yourself to feel that stress and anxiety instead of denying it or pushing it away. The denying and pushing it away usually makes it worse.
C is for “coming back into your body.” It’s a grounding/anchoring technique to help bring you back into the present moment. Something as simple as noticing your feet pushing on the floor, your butt sitting in the chair or feeling your hands pressing against your lap. Dr. Matt says you can even look around the room and name 5 things you see. Anything to bring your awareness to the NOW.
E is for “engaging in something that will be helpful.” Choose something that’s in your control. It can be as simple as making lunch. And then throw yourself into making lunch. Focus on it, be present and engage with it totally. Once you’re done pick another task like cleaning your closet!
Another technique I learned from Dr. Matt is to distance yourself and stop identifying with negative thoughts. For instance, you’re at home and you have the negative thought “Man, I’m such a bad mom today.” You need to first recognize that it’s just a thought (not a truth) and then put some words in front of it. Here’s what you do…”I’m having the thought that I’m a bad mom.” And then you further distance yourself from the thought by saying…”I notice I’m having the thought that I’m a bad mom.” I’ve done this a few times and it’s an instant game-changer! Those few words help me to stop identifying with those unhelpful thoughts!
Lastly, Dr. Matt says we need to practice some serious SELF-COMPASSION! As human beings, we are wired to judge ourselves and everyone else all day long. When we’re in the middle of a pandemic, judgement is not going to help you or make you feel better. You do need to cut yourself some slack. It can be really hard to be compassionate toward yourself, so talk to yourself as you would a close family member or friend. If your sister was beating herself up, you’d jump right in, tell her to stop talking like that and build her up with all kinds of amazing and true compliments. That’s how you need to talk to yourself! Talk to yourself like a friend or sister!