Written by: Cheyanne D’souza, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
Managing one's mental health can present significant challenges, and as a person who has undergone counseling for anxiety and depression, I can attest to the frustrating process of determining the most suitable therapeutic modality. Since no universal treatment works for everyone, identifying the treatment that suits an individual may require several attempts. As a counselor and a client, my preferred therapeutic approach is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which can manage not only anxiety and depression but also various other disorders like addiction, chronic fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many others. CBT is a form of psychotherapy based on the premise that an individual's thoughts, feelings, and perception influence their actions and behavior.
For example, when one is feeling sad, they may want to lie in bed all day and watch television. Using CBT techniques such as identifying unhelpful patterns of thinking, mindfulness training, and problem-solving therapy, CBT can not only manage mental health symptoms but also boost confidence and self-esteem. Here are three CBT tips for enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem:
- Challenge negative thoughts: To become aware of negative thoughts, it is essential to write them down as they occur. Once they are documented, the thoughts should be challenged. What evidence supports the thoughts, what evidence is against the thoughts? It is then crucial to ask oneself if the thought is true based on the information gathered.
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].
- Document the positives: When feeling down, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of life. At the end of each day, it is crucial to document all the positive parts of one's life, no matter how small. These can be as simple as appreciating those around oneself.
Example: Three things I am grateful for: friends/family who support me, having a house to live in, and food to eat.
- Schedule pleasurable activities: Just as modifying thoughts can improve feelings and behavior, changing behavior can improve thoughts and feelings. Incorporating activities that bring pleasure, such as going for a drive or calling a friend, can improve one's mood. Starting small to avoid feeling overwhelmed is essential.
Example: Once a week, I will take a nature walk.
By practicing these CBT techniques, one can begin to boost their self-esteem and build confidence. It is essential to remember that patience is critical, and changes take time to become noticeable.