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MODULE 5

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UNLEARNING

In Module 4 we examined our thoughts, beliefs and how these may lead to unhealthy behaviours. This module aims to look at processes that may be helpful in breaking unhealthy cycles. It is not an easy thing to do to ‘unlearn’ thoughts, behaviours and beliefs that have underpinned how we have lived our lives for a long time. But it is never too late to try and the feeling of freedom is so worth it!


5.1 Media’s Influence On Me

Commented [1]: Video here – interview a few people on
the influence of the media on their self worth (maybe
over a coffee or meal discussion) we have set
questions- pre organised

When your self-worth becomes messed up and tied up with your food and exercise behaviours it is very easy in the age of social media to become absorbed in the myriad of images and information out there. Much of this is misinformation! There are over 52 million #fitspo messages and counting! If we do not value who we are, and are caught in the cycles we discussed in Module 3, then many of these posts add
to the strength of the cycle if we allow them to!

If our sense of self is strong and healthy and we love who we are, we are less likely to be swayed by the influences of the media. Not bowing to the notion of chasing being ‘perfect’, whether it be looks, lifestyle or accomplishments. No one is perfect. Social media posts tend to portray people at their best and are most likely photoshopped. If someone is vulnerable to an eating disorder they will be influenced by the millions of posts relating to body shape, diet and fitness. Fitspo refers to images and words hoping to inspire others to live a fit, active lifestyle and often show meals or promote diet fads and exercise regimes that are unbalanced and inadequate to sustain activity or health. Educating on what is
healthy and unhealthy and to be able to critically analyse these posts is crucial if someone is vulnerable to be influenced by them.

Media Influence on Eating Disorders

Commented [2]: do we use link or do I use some of this
article within this module here?

YOUR WORTH IS NOT BASED ON YOUR BODY SHAPE AND SIZE

Many disordered eating and exercise behaviours are a means to control a circumstance and its related emotions. There are so many risk
factors that interplay to the development of these disorders but the bottom line, no matter what the situation, is a desire to be valued and loved unconditionally.

In this section we will consider the effect of what we are exposed to and how that may influence the continuing of low self-worth and body image disturbance. When our self worth and identity is based on our body image, what we are influenced by, can have very harmful consequences. This influences our idea of what is ‘healthy’ in terms of diet and exercise behaviour. If we have a misperception in one area
of our life, then this will create misperceptions in other areas. The fitness industry may be one of the areas where there are many misperceptions, especially if the focus is on the image of the body and not on the HEALTH of the person.

You may have heard the saying that you are the product of your environment. The Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), used in education, psychology and communication is based on the idea that learning can be directly related to social interactions, experiences and outside media influence. Body size misperception is where people believe their bodies to be larger or smaller than they actually are, and research on this issue has mainly been based on SCT.

The term ‘environment’ is so broad and can include many things, so I believe our personalities and the way we process circumstances need to also be considered. Body misperception is closely related to many eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa and Muscle Dysmorphia. Eating disorders are serious mental health issues, with anxiety and low self-esteem being major risk factors. I lived in the same family environment as my sister and brothers and they did not develop an eating disorder as I did.

Remaining relevant. It’s the key to success for both providers and receiver of services. As you know this is especially true at this time in the aged care sector. “”

5.1.1 Body Misperception

Most studies on body misperception have focused on body size and not taken into account body composition. Research by Sturman et al., 2017, considered that exposure to different bodies and sizes may be influenced by perceptual adaptation effect. What this basically means is that extended exposure to a particular image will cause a visual after effect (a bias). An example is when thin vertical stripes are viewed for 30 seconds, this causes a set of broader stripes to look broader than they actually are and vice versa.


5.1.1.1 Independent Aftereffects Of Fat And Muscle

Observers in Sturman’s study were randomly assigned to either low fat, high fat, low muscle or high muscle adaptation conditions and were presented with a practice identity stimulus (body prototype). Using a body manipulation tool, they had to manipulate the body image until it represented ‘average size’. They repeated this with 10 test identities and a baseline point of subjective normality (PSN) was calculated for body fat and for muscle mass. The observers were then each exposed to 10 adaption stimuli, 6 times for 2 seconds each (120s of adaptation time). The adaptation stimulus images that the observers were exposed to, were up to 100% above and below their PSN for body fat and muscle mass.

The results showed that after prolonged viewing of large and small bodies, the observers showed aftereffects in the adaption direction, and their perceived ‘normal’ is more like what they have been exposed to. The study also supported that different neural mechanisms encode dimensions of body fat and muscle mass. Exposure to bodies with either high or low fat levels caused a change in the perception of average body fat and the same with high or low muscle mass.

Our aim is to empower our clients to continue living independently by providing a range of services tailored to meet the needs of each individual.

Remaining relevant. It’s the key to success for both providers and receiver of services. As you know this is especially true at this time in the aged care sector.


5.1.1.2 Implications Of The Research

Individuals who are normal weight or underweight may perceive themselves to be overweight if regularly exposed to low body fat images. For someone that has risk factors predisposing them to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, this poses a problem if they are exposed to images where they perceive their body to be bigger than what they are looking at. A person with anorexia misperceives their level of body fat but do not misperceive their muscle mass, feeling they are fatter than what they actually are. Extreme dieting, purging and excessive exercise become unhealthy habits. The existence of ‘pro-ana’ websites reflects these findings. The images of extremely underweight individuals believing they are fat and encourage others in their pursuit of lowering their body weight is a major concern.

Regular exposure to highly muscular bodies, may cause some individuals to believe they are less muscular than what they actually are. This is the case for those who have muscle dysmorphia, who misperceive their muscle size but do not misperceive their level of body fat. Excessive exercise and/or use of anabolic steroids and other substances may be used in order to try and achieve their perceived ‘ideal’ level of muscle. Many people who suffer this have lost relationships, jobs and health as the compulsive need to train for hours at the expense of normal life activities take over. New Zealand bodybuilder, Justin Rys, died at 38 years of age resulting from the many physical complications in pursuit
of an ever larger muscle mass.

Overweight people, who interact with others of similar weight, underestimate their body fat. They tend to not believe they need to change their diet or lifestyle habits. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers are risks of these choices.

Any of the scenarios above cause great mental and physical health problems. In a world full of instant images that we are exposed to, and those we choose to focus on, could result in body misperception. If other risk factors are present, these could become eating disorders, and the images in our society could be ‘feeding’ the disorder. If we choose to focus on body shape alone, then it appears that complications
arise. If our focus is on total health, that is physical, mental, emotional and social health, then maybe we would have fewer problems with body image, as our focus would be more holistic and more balanced, so that we do not ‘misperceive’ what our fitness and health are about.

Reference:

Independent Aftereffects of Fat and Muscle: Implications for neural encoding, body space representation, and body image disturbance (2017)
Daniel Sturman1, Ian D. Stephen1,2,3, Jonathan Mond4,5, Richard J Stevenson1,3 & Kevin R. Brooks1,3

In Module 2, we examined fad diets and took a look at what behaviours are actually healthy and what is unhealthy. In module 3 we connected these behaviours to our thoughts and how one drives the other to form unhealthy cycles. If you consider all these when you look at some social media posts, hopefully you will start to consider if the message is actually helpful for you, your sense of self and your health.

Here is a list of helpful questions that to ask yourself so that you can immediately challenge any messages you are hearing from others or thoughts you have lived by that are harmful to bringing about positive change.


5.1.2 Examining Social Media Posts

Commented [3]: In regard to comment above about a
video – why don’t we actually do this activity with a
group of people and record it ? Rather than having this
here as text?

Answer the following questions about each of these social media posts:

  • Is there an implied emotional attachment to food?
  • Does this post imply sticking to unrealistic eating and/or exercise regimes?
  • Does the post create a sense of guilt and shame?
  • Does the post ridicule normal, healthy eating?
  • Does the post encourage food restriction and essential nutrient deficiency?
  • Does the post imply that worth is based on looks?
  • Does the post imply that nothing other than diet and exercise is important in your life?
  • Does the post encourage behaviours that will impact social health?

IMAGES HAS TO BE REPLACED BY THE VIDEO

Commented [4]: insert male images and include video
mixed discussion
Commented [5]: Jonathan these images do not need to
be inserted as we are hoping to have a video discussion
with a group of people for this


5.2 Rigidity of Thoughts and Behaviours

Following rigid rules around diet and exercise, which often form unhealthy behaviours follow rigid thoughts and beliefs we have of ourselves. In order to promote healthier habits, these rigid set thoughts need to change if we hope to change our unhealthy behaviours. We need to become more ‘flexible’ and not be so hard on ourselves. The rigidity of our thoughts may actually cause us to believe that the consequences of changing these thoughts will be catastrophic. They lead to very ‘black and white’ thinking, making change seem difficult to achieve. However, this thinking is ironic as we think our rigid rule keeping will bring the change that we want, yet change in itself means allowing flexibility for change to occur.

Acceptance is the first step to even entertain the thought of change. Not trying to chase a state of ‘perfection’ in whatever circumstance that may be, is freedom.

I like the trap of rigid thinking to a quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption.

“These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.”

If our thoughts are automatic and govern rigid behaviour around food and exercise, then they become patterns of living we depend on. These create a fear and anxiety within us if we break these rules. There is no freedom to live fully when we are bound by this kind of rigidity. A form of therapy which aims to develop psychological flexibility is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It refers to “the process of contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being and persisting or changing behavior in the service of chosen values” (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda, & Lillis, 2006, p.9).

Commented [7]: Hayes, Steven C., et al. “Acceptance
and commitment therapy: Model, processes and
outcomes.” Behaviour research and therapy 44.1
(2006): 1-25.

We’ll start with a few definitions.

Cognitive Fusion

Fusion is the joining of two or more things, so cognitive fusion occurs when we attach our thoughts or feelings to something. It may be a movie line, a song a poem or the storyline of a book that reminds us of an event. Memories can come flooding back and we may have streams of thoughts , feelings and sensations that can become overwhelming to the point that we may base our actions on these rather than using our 5 senses at that time.

Cognitive Defusion

Defusion is the opposite of fusion and involves stepping back and creating distance. Cognitive defusion creates distance between our thoughts, feelings and beliefs to an event or experience. The aim of ACT is to enable this distance so that one can analyse their thoughts in a healthy manner, determining what is actually happening in the present moment, with the ultimate goal of creating a more positive sense of
self.

Commented [8]: suggest a video discussion here with
Inger and Eleni about their experience with cognitive
fusion/defusion

Our identity becomes based on the thoughts we have of ourselves and so the eating disorder cycle becomes a means difficult to break. However, this is not impossible to do if we first accept our feelings, thoughts and then learn to critically analyse them.

A study by Trindade and Ferreira 1, revealed that body-image related cognitive fusion was positively associated with more general cognitive fusion. That means that thoughts are so automatic that certain events trigger automatic behaviour based on these. This shows that the person has lost the ability to be present, socially, physically and psychologically. The study also showed that cognitive fusion regarding body image was linked with unfavourable social rank perceptions. This could be a risk factor for developing an eating disorder or a consequence of having an eating disorder, where submissive behaviour dominates over assertive behaviour.

Commented [9]: Trindade, Inês A., and Cláudia Ferreira.
“The impact of body image-related cognitive fusion on
eating psychopathology.” Eating behaviors 15.1 (2014):
72-75.

My personal experience reflects the results of this study. I did not know how to be assertive as I felt I was not allowed to have an opinion. Therefore, I felt unworthy and unloved. Over time, I became submissive as an attempt to please others. I became submissive in my self-talk and thought life. And so the cycle of attempting to make myself ‘feel better’ with unhealthy, rigid diet and exercise behaviours began. Thoughts about my body-image became rigid. The heightened anxiety would not allow for reflection of the present.

I would like to point out that eating disorders are NOT always instigated by body dissatisfaction.

You can read more about this in my article below:
https://www.brazengrowth.com.au/blog/2017/12/12/eating-disorders-not-always-a-body-image-issue

The idea of cognitive fusion shows the need to become assertive and challenge our thought life. The sooner this is done the more flexible we become and able to live in the present and not be driven to act automatically with unhealthy behaviours. The anxiety caused if rigid dieting is broken is immense. Negative thoughts scream in your mind about the failure that you are and that you are dirty and no longer worthy. Compensatory behaviours like excessive exercise, purging and severe food restrictions are automatic and the cycle starts again.

Treatment for eating disorders needs to include challenging and replacing thoughts of low self worth.

1. Trindade, Inês A., and Cláudia Ferreira. “The impact of body image-related cognitive fusion on eating psychopathology.” Eating behaviors 15.1 (2014): 72-75.


5.3 Game Changers!

In Module 2 we looked at unhealthy eating behaviours and in Module 3 we examined unhealthy exercise behaviours. Sometimes, these unhealthy habits serve a purpose for coping with low self worth. Breaking unhealthy habits needs to start with breaking unhealthy thoughts.


5.3.1 The Concept of Kaizen

It is scary to make any changes, especially when the things we need to change have become our means for coping, even though they may me unhealthy. Modules 3 and 4 looked at some of the unhealthy consequences of negative eating and exercise patterns.

We are hoping that you understand these consequences as having detrimental effects on your health.

Many of the behaviours are based on fear, guilt and shame. Changing the emotions and thoughts associated with poor diet and exercise behaviours is the first step to living a life free from the bind that disordered eating and eating disorders place on us. One small change is a step in the right direction, and help you realise that the fear was unfounded.

I love the Japanese concept of Kaizen. also known as continuous improvement. It involves taking small, seemingly insignificant steps that in total amount to positive change and improvement. You might think, ‘what am I doing this for? It’s not going to make a difference.” It could be fear that is stopping you from giving it a go.

5.3.2 Activity: Words – Painful Arrows Or Seeds Of Hope

TEXT TABLE

What did you discover?
Commented [10]: I suggest an online group meeting at
this point. I will go through the rest of the program, in
each module to suggest when these should be held

Did any of the above statements cause anxiety for you?
Did you feel like you would be ‘failing’ if you allowed yourself to even think some of these statements?
Did these statements make you feel empowered?

https://www.ted.com/playlists/465/the_logic_of_loving_yourself


5.4 Unlearning

Commented [11]: Video: Discussion about anxieties,
fears and thoughts that we are afraid to let go of that
need to be unlearned.

Changing thoughts and behaviours that we have lived with for a long time (sometimes years!) is difficult but possible. It takes effort but if you are at this point in the program then you have already shown the desire you have to regain your health and your life back!

In module 1 and 3 you identified the unhelpful thoughts you have of yourself. To instigate change in behaviour, we first need to instigate change in these thoughts.


5.4.1 STOP Sign

The very first thing to do, at the instant you recognise that one of those unhealthy thoughts has surfaced, is to STOP it in its tracks! Literally see a STOP sign. These thoughts quickly snowball into a highway of unhealthy thoughts, mixed with negative beliefs you may have about yourself. Before you know it you are physically feeling the anxiety that this causes.

You may think this feels like such a trivial thing to do, but once you practice it, over and over again, it actually works!


5.4.2 Breathe

Next take a few deep breaths and close your eyes, still seeing that STOP sign. Say to yourself “ I acknowledge that I am feeling this (name the emotions) however, I am NOT going to allow this thought and emotion to continue.’ Then literally picture the emotion leaving you. I picture a wave passing over me, or sometimes a cloud drifting away. ”

The purpose of this is to help identify the emotion that the thought is creating and stop the anxiety that could be arising as a result. Remaining in an anxious state makes it difficult to determine how to deal with anything. Keep breathing and imagining that thought and emotion passing away.


5.4.3 Self-Talk

EVALUATION: Time to Challenge That Thought!

We cannot change circumstances, situations or events that happened in the past, yet many of us continue on the ‘what if’ road of thought and find our emotions around these affected. This is a time to use the STOP’ sign. What was in the past has past. What we can change is the way we respond. We often respond based on the thoughts we have of our self.

Think of a situation that normally impacts your belief of yourself in a negative way. We will call this ‘X”.

Use the STOP sign before your emotions and thoughts start racing. Now ask yourself the following questions:

Why do I believe ‘X’ is true?
What do I know about my good qualities that is evidence against X being true?
How have I judged myself when this thought has arisen?
Is this judgment based on how I felt rather than what I did?
How have I coped in the past when this thought has arised?
Am I setting an unrealistic standard?
Am I forgetting relevant facts?
Am I predicting the future?
What would I say to someone else who said “X” about himself/herself?
Are my thoughts at this time being helpful and will they lead me to take action that is helpful?
Allow yourself to be kind to yourself – start with your self-talk.

Your thought patterns are your communication with yourself. Consider these three questions regarding your thoughts and in what you communicate to others.

TABLE


5.5 Balancing Logic and Emotion to Become Wise

Logical Mind

  • Looks at facts
  • Is black and white and does not consider any possibilities in between
  • Considers the cause and effect of decisions
  • Reflective

Emotional Mind

  • Uses feelings and emotions to make decisions
  • Responds out of psychological need
  • Depends on energy levels driven by emotions
  • Reactive

Wise Mind

  • Is a balance of fact and feelings
  • Evidence based
  • Looks at bigger picture
  • Is non-reactive, but reflects before responding
  • Aims for a positive outcome

Wise Mind Reigns!

In Module 1, we used ‘Observe, Describe, Do” to determine our core beliefs. They are often influenced by a situation and the emotions that arise time and time again. It is not helpful if unhealthy emotions lead to unhealthy behaviours that keep us stuck in a cycle that causes regret, guilt and shame.

Let’s examine how we can work towards acting more out of a WISE mind by using ‘NOW’. These skills are applied all at once.


5.6 N.O.W.

N is for NO JUDGEMENT

We often judge ourselves often based on emotions and feelings.

When we have disordered eating and/or exercise behaviours, we judge ourselves when we do not adhere to these.

Judgment can evoke negative emotions. Try to focus on the facts – ‘the WHAT’, and not label ourselves, food, or compensatory behaviours as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘best’, ‘worst’, ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t’.

Judgment makes us believe that our opinion (or the perceptions we have) is always true and this may not necessarily be the case. After time we believe that our judgements, especially of ourselves are true.

There is always a grey in between. Rigid behaviours follow rigid thoughts. These thoughts do not allow for reasoning.

Facts are the ‘who, what, where and when’. Focus on these and separate your feelings and opinions of these.

Live moment by moment

O is for ONE THING AT A TIME – SEEING FOOD AS AN ALLY AND NOT THE ENEMY

If you are eating, then eat. Learning to enjoy food and eating without feeling shame and guilt can be challenging when this has become enmeshed in managing negative thoughts and feelings. Seeing food as nourishment and eating as a pleasure may need to be learned, if the opposite has been your norm.

Our negative thoughts and feelings towards ourselves may lead us to believe that we do not deserve to enjoy life. This view can carry over to many activities including the enjoyment of food. This may be the case for both restrictive eating behaviours as well as binge episodes. We need to change our thoughts of self first, and then change our thoughts of food. Instead of being the enemy, food is for nourishment and enjoyment, and that YOU DESERVE TO BE NOURISH AND ENJOY YOUR FOOD.

Slowing down to enjoy food means we slow down the anxiety that is created because of the thoughts we have.

Being mindful when eating involves being present with all your senses – including not looking at any screen, paperwork or anything else while eating. Enjoying eating may be something you have either struggled with, felt guilty about, or ashamed of if it has been part of a binge cycle. These emotions are NOT healthy! I can honestly say that even when I had anorexia, I longed to eat food I enjoyed and wanted the taste. My thoughts were not about fearing the food but about fearing the loss of the ‘voice’ that I felt not eating had provided me. I equated this to my parents now loving me as they were listening to me. This was very distorted thinking based on false beliefs and thoughts. All it did was raise anxiety, depression, put my health at further risk and ruin relationships.

YOU ALLOWED TO ENJOY EATING. OUR BODIES NEED BALANCED EATING. OUR MINDS NEED TO ENJOY THE ACT OF EATING.

Allow yourself to:

  • Taste the different flavours of food
  • Feel the temperature of different foods in our mouth
  • Enjoy the different textures that a variety of foods offer
  • Enjoy the different smells that a variety of foods and cuisines offer

As you do so, say to yourself:

  • I am allowed to enjoy this
  • Eating a balanced variety of foods is good for my body and my health
  • I am allowed to enjoy the taste of this food
  • I am worthy
  • I am looking after my mental, physical and social health by enjoying this

If you are watching a movie then give it all of your attention. When you are doing one thing, try and not let your thoughts wander. Stay focused on what you are doing and keep coming back to that.

W is for WHAT WORKS

Determine WHAT works for you to distract / change the thought, emotion & behaviour you are trying to change
Don’t judge – no ‘right’ , ‘wrong’ ‘should’ ‘shouldn’t’
Use what skills you have to meet the need at that moment
Remember your goal – to change a negative thought and behaviour pattern
Stop using feelings of revenge or anger and having to be right
Think of WHAT WORKS to ground you at that moment

Over the next week practice using these NOW skills. Download the PDF and list examples of when you used each these skills:

N: ‘Not Judging’ skills
O: ‘One thing at a time’ skills
W: ‘What Works’ skills

Of the above NOW skills, which is your weakest one? Which is your strength?


5.7 Stress Management

When it comes to health and wellbeing, stress should not be overlooked. Stress has an impact on your health and your mood.

Stress arises when we are faced with a situation where you feel you are unable to cope. This can cause unhelpful negative thoughts and emotions. This kind of reaction is called ‘Distress’, and causes long term health problems.

Some situations involve a helpful kind of stress that results in positive action. This is also known as ‘Eustress’ and can be helpful in moving forward and achieving goals. This kind of stress can help overcome obstacles. Some examples of eustress are going on a holiday, falling in love and taking small steps to instigate change.

IDENTIFYING YOUR STRESSORS


5.7.1 Dealing with Stress

Commented [13]: Add the 4 A’s? Avoid, Alter, Accept,
Adapt
Commented [14]: There is much about this on other
sites- thought we dealing with much of this in relation
specifically around eating thoughts and behaviours.
what do you think?

We cannot change other people’s actions, words, expectations or circumstances but we can make changes to how we respond to these if they are the cause of our stress. What stresses one person may not cause distress for another. The same goes for what relaxes one person may not be relaxing for another.

One key point to make is that if you have suffered disordered eating or an eating disorder, the bottom line may be that you do not feel that you are ‘good enough’ and have low value of yourself. This may lead to people pleasing in order to gain approval or validation from others. This in itself causes stress as one feels the continual need to say yes, to do more and to always be thinking about how to make others happy. All the while, you are feeling exhausted. The first major thinking to change here in order to reducing stress levels is THAT YOU ARE ALLOWED TO THINK OF YOURSELF FIRST. If you are not looking after yourself first then how can you give to others?

Also, the notion of doing for others to feel a sense of approval or worth, is not truly giving. It makes you
feel obliged or bound to continue doing. One of the hardest things I had to do is to let go of the thinking
that I had to put others first. I had lived like that my whole life because:

  • I feared the response if I said no
  • I believed that I would not be liked if I said no
  • I was only valuable if I did this
  • This included my unhealthy thoughts of self that preceded rule keeping around restricted eating and excessive exercise. Not because I disliked my body but my sense of worth centered around ‘doing things and keeping rules.’

SO ALLOW YOURSELF TO RELAX AND DO THINGS THAT HELP YOU TO DESTRESS!

Make a list of the things that you have not done for a while that help you to relax or to take your mind off a difficult situation. Some of mine include reading a good book, getting lost in a movie, walking along the beach, diving through the ocean, having a bubble bath and singing. Schedule these things into your day. It will feel strange at first but once putting you first becomes a part of your day you will find that
you cope better. This will have a ripple effect on to eating and exercise behaviours as your anxiety levels start to decrease.

‘ACCEPT’ A WISE MIND

Dealing with times of stress and anxiety at the moment they present can be difficult if we usually use unhealthy behaviours. These may even be thought of as healthy behaviours but the extent to which we use them and their attachment to our sense of worth has become unhealthy. Examples of unhealthy behaviours that are often thought of as healthy are excessive exercise, binging and restricted eating.

The following can be used to try and deal with stress when it presents:

ACTIVITIES

Engage in activities that distract and soothe you other than exercise if you are trying to break habits of excessive exercise – yes you deserve it !

Have a bubble bath
Watch a great movie
Sing
Do a crossword puzzle

List activities that you could do that work for you here:

CONTRIBUTING – to help the lives of others

List times that you positively contributed to someone else’s life. It may have been volunteering, taking
someone for a coffee or help someone with a task they can’t do alone.

COMPARISONS – Comparing your stress to others less fortunate than you

EMOTIONS – Listen to music, watch a movie, read a book OPPOSITE to the emotion you are feeling.

PUSHING AWAY – Ask yourself ‘ Do I have the resources to deal with the problem now? If not, push it away. Use the STOP sign and do not allow yourself to use the usual unhealthy behaviours that you are trying to change. Leave it for a while – mentally and emotionally.

Create an imaginary wall between the stressful situation and yourself

Put the pain of the situation on the shelf. Box it up for a while

THOUGHTS
In a situation of distress, negative unhealthy thoughts can come flooding.

USE THE STOP SIGN!
Count to ten
Do a puzzle
Read a book that you get lost in.

SENSATIONS
Making use of your senses to help distract from unhelpful thoughts may be of worth trying as well. Things like holding ice in your hand, having a very hot or very cold shower, playing music very loudly may all serve as distractions from unhealthy emotions that arise.


5.7.2 USING YOUR SENSES

Commented [15]: Add images for each of these.
Commented [16]: I’ve uploaded an eye, a nose, an ear,
a mouth and hands:
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B9gFbxf7Ffs
BVEQwNnBCcGZ4S0E
Commented [17]: I can’t find the mouth!
Commented [18]: It is a tongue – couldn’t find a mouth to
match the other images in style

For each sense below, list things that make you smile, laugh and feel good.
SIGHT

 

 

 

SOUND

SMELL

TOUCH

 

 


 

5.8 Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves bringing to your attention, all that is happening in the present moment. For someone -that is suffering anxiety, depression and uses unhealthy diet and exercise behaviours to cope with circumstances beyond their control, I believe practicing mindfulness needs to be done in conjunction with the use of the ‘STOP’ Sign and the EVALUATION method we looked at earlier in this module. For example, if we focus using all our senses on a negative instant that is happening and our thoughts and emotions snowball we could be sensing and feeling a whole lot of unhealthy physiological signs and racing thoughts, we could instinctively respond with unhealthy coping mechanisms. The aim of
mindfulness here is to break the unhealthy cycle of thoughts and behaviours. So start putting into practice ALL of the above.

Over the next 2 weeks list examples of situations where you do this. That means:

  • Recognising a negative thought /emotion
  • Hold the STOP sign up in your thoughts instead of allowing them to snowball
  • Evaluate the thought/emotion using the questioning above
  • Acknowledge that you are feeling this right now and picture it drifting away, using whatevermethod works for you.
  • Replace with a positive thought and self-talk
  • Distract by doing something you enjoy

Mindfulness can actually be a difficult thing for someone who is so used to acting on impulse according to behaviours that act as a means to control emotions. Once you actually start and be consistent in doing so, you will notice the change in your response to situations and emotions.


5.9 Things I Like About Me

When we have low self esteem, it is easy to forget about positive qualities that we have. If our self worth has been tied up in strict rule keeping of rigid food and exercise behaviours, chances are that everything else about ourselves has been forgotten. Other goals, dreams, hobbies we enjoy and those around us may have taken a back seat and you can’t even see them in the rear view mirror let alone see through the windscreen to where you would like to go!

You may need some help reminding yourself of the great qualities you have! These could be things like:

  • Having compassion for others

  • Creativity
  • Intelligence
  • Being a great musician or writer!

If you find it difficult to think of these qualities then these things may help:

  • Ask those that know you best to help you
  • Look for any cards, SMS, Emails where others have thanked you or encouraged you.
  • Look for positive feedback you may have been given by a work colleague, or someone at uni

These avenues helped me at a time when all I could see were ‘negatives’ that I believed were true.


5.9.1 Healthy Self-talk List

From the activity earlier in this module, ‘WORDS – PAINFUL ARROWS OR SEEDS OF HOPE’, create your healthy self-talk list with the statements that relate to you the most.Then place it somewhere where you will see it a number of times a day. This could be on your fridge door or by your bed head. Look at it often and start to believe it.

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  • 10 Days

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