The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

If you’ve ever tried changing your mind about something or someone but struggled no matter how hard you tried, then you understand the challenge of controlling your thoughts. Or maybe you’ve been trying to quit a certain behavior for years but just can’t seem to figure out the trick to changing your behaviors.

As humans, we tend to be stuck in our ways, whether it comes to how we think, believe, act, or feel. This isn’t always a negative thing, as it can help us stand our ground on important issues and help us develop healthy values and morals. However, there are times when change is for the best, but knowing how to accomplish it is where the trouble can begin.

This is where a therapeutic approach like cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can be beneficial. In this article, we’ll discuss what CBT is and cover 5 of its techniques for you to try on your own at home.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and highly effective form of talk therapy that can be utilized to treat a range of social, emotional, mental, cognitive, physical, and spiritual concerns. It rests on the idea that our thoughts and emotions are linked and that training the brain to think differently can impact how we respond to life and its stressors.

The goal of CBT is to help people grow in self-awareness so that they can identify their unhelpful thoughts more easily. Once these unproductive thoughts have been identified, people are then taught how to replace them with healthier, more constructive thinking patterns. Over time, people using CBT come to learn how to cope more effectively with their emotions, choose more productive thoughts and behaviors, and reduce the presence of symptoms of various physical and mental health conditions.

What Is CBT Used For?

People may use cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. Below are some of these disorders as well as other examples of other conditions and concerns that CBT may be used to manage or treat:

Bipolar disorder
● Stress
● Schizophrenia
● Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
● Hoarding
● Self-harm
● Suicidal ideations or attempts
● Anger problems
● Borderline personality disorder
● Phobias
● Sleep issues like insomnia
● Chronic pain
● Low self-esteem
● Substance use disorder
● Eating disorders
● Fibromyalgia
● Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

CBT can be applied to many different scenarios and assist people in varying ways. Connecting with a therapist can be a positive first step to seeing how it could help you or a loved one.

5 CBT Techniques To Try At Home

Cognitive behavioral therapy relies on several different techniques to help people recover and find healing from a range of concerns. Below are five of the most common, which you may find helpful when implementing into your life:

1. Cognitive restructuring: Perhaps the most prominent CBT technique, cognitive restructuring works by teaching people how to identify and reframe their maladaptive thought processes. Examples of maladaptive thoughts include overgeneralization, magnification, black-and-white thinking, and catastrophizing. People who have these types of thoughts regularly tend to experience higher rates of mental health concerns like low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, anger, feelings of worthlessness, and more. By learning how to choose healthier, more logical thoughts, individuals can restore a sense of balance and rationality in their lives and alleviate the symptoms they’re experiencing.

2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves staying in the present moment and observing one’s thoughts, bodily sensations, and feelings without trying to judge or interpret them. Rather than trying to eliminate negative feelings like anger, anxiety, or sadness, mindfulness seeks to help the individual become more comfortable feeling them. This practice can provide individuals with a powerful tool for growing in self-awareness, targeting unhelpful thought patterns, and accepting oneself as is. Mindfulness also promotes relaxation, which can alleviate the symptoms of many different mental health conditions.

3. Thought stopping: An important aspect of CBT, thought stopping works by teaching people how to block out unhelpful thoughts instead of ruminating on them. When a negative thought pops up, the individual pushes it away by saying a word (like “stop”) or performing an action (like snapping their fingers) and chooses something different to think about, preventing the maladaptive thought from sticking and growing more and more out of control. This technique is more effective when people have high levels of self-awareness because thoughts that aren’t recognized as being unhelpful cannot be stopped.

4. Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises can be helpful for people engaging in CBT, as they promote tranquility and relaxation. Both of these can have positive effects on the mind and body, alleviating distress and encouraging a sense of calmness. Common types of breathing exercises include box breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation. Structured breathing patterns such as these can also be helpful when learning other techniques like mindfulness. Taken together, they can help manage strong emotions and allow people to practice emotional regulation.

5. Journaling: Journaling has been proven to be effective in improving mental wellness and increasing self-awareness, among other positive outcomes. This activity involves writing down, typing, or drawing one’s thoughts and feelings on paper, whether by responding to different prompts or jotting things down as they come up inside. Being able to express oneself on paper can help people track their progress and goals, document their symptoms, and see patterns in their thoughts and feelings. Journaling can be a powerful CBT technique because it encourages self-awareness, which is necessary for those trying to identify their unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and alter them.

There are numerous other techniques utilized in CBT, which you may want to explore. Some might be more effective or helpful for certain people than others, so it’s important to try out a few and see which ones work best for you. Sometimes, it can take time to learn a new technique, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t pick it up right away.

How Can I Start Applying These Techniques To My Life?

Not all CBT techniques are recommended to do on your own, but most of them can be. If you’re interested in trying a new technique, consider doing more research on it to ensure you understand what it entails and what benefits it’s supposed to bring. Should any technique make your symptoms worse, it’s crucial to stop what you’re doing.

Speaking with a therapist is another way you can incorporate CBT techniques into your life. These trained professionals can teach you the proper ways to carry out each method and ensure they’re helping you improve.

The Power Of CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy can have a significant impact on your life, benefiting you in a multitude of areas and leaving a lasting imprint on your mind. CBT offers a way to participate in therapy without a therapist, but this option won’t be ideal for everyone. Should you need extra support or guidance, it could be advantageous to reach out to a therapist trained in CBT either locally or online. Taking steps to improve your well-being is always worth it. Even if you don’t see results right away, rest assured that you are treating yourself well by looking after your needs. Keep at it, and know you aren’t alone during the journey.

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