Battling mental health can be difficult and as someone who has received counselling for anxiety and depression, I can attest to the frustrating process of trying to find which therapeutic modality best fits you. As there is no universal treatment that works for everyone and finding which treatment works for you can take a few tries. My personal favourite, as a client and a counselor, is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). While I have used CBT to manage feelings of anxiety and depression, it can also be used for several other disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, addiction, chronic fatigue, and several more. This form of psychotherapy is based on the idea that an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and perception affect their actions and behaviours. For example, have you ever had one of those days where you are feeling a little sad (feeling) and all you want to do is sit in bed all day and watch television (behaviour). Using techniques, such as identifying unhelpful patterns of thinking, mindfulness training, and problem-solving therapy, CBT can not only manage one’s mental health symptoms but also improve their confidence and self esteem. Three CBT tips for improving confidence and self-esteem:
- Challenge negative thoughts – to become aware of your negative thoughts start writing them down as they occur. Once they are written down, challenge the thought – what evidence is there to support the thought, what is evidence is there against the thought opposing the thought. Then ask yourself based on this information is the thought true.
- (Example: “I am not smart enough” [thought]; I did poorly on one test [evidence supporting the thought]; I have done well on several other tests [evidence against the thought]; Just because I did poorly on one test does not mean I am not smart [truth])
- Write down the positives – when you are feeling down it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of your life. At the end of each day write down all the positive parts of your life. These do not have to major things; they can be as simple as appreciating those around you.
- (Example: 3 things I am grateful for – friends/ family who support me, having a house to live in, and food to eat)
- Schedule pleasurable activities—as mentioned previously, our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors all influence each other. Just as modifying our thoughts can improve our feelings and behaviour, modifying behaviour can improve our thoughts and feelings. Start to incorporate activities that bring you pleasure, such as going on a drive or calling a friend. Begin small so that you do not overwhelm yourself.
- (Example: once a week I am going to go on a nature walk).
By practicing these CBT techniques, you will begin to boost your self-esteem and build your confidence. Also remember patience is key and it will take time before you begin to see changes!