Thinking About How You Think

Thinking About How You Think

by Cynthia Bryant, LICSW

The COVID pandemic has obviously impacted everyone’s life. Just when you think you have adapted to the current reality, new information and recommendations emerge.

Every day there seems to be a new report about vaccine effectiveness, mask guidelines and daily totals for active cases and mortalities. In addition, we hear of new COVID variants which may be more dangerous or contagious than previous strains. For many of us, being exposed to wave after wave of new information about this frightening virus has added stress and uncertainty to daily life.  

How does one continue to cope in a healthy way?  By now, you have likely heard how important it is to talk to others regularly, as well as getting fresh air, exercise and sufficient sleep – and all of these are vital to our well-being. However, In times of stress, it is also important to think about the way we think. The pandemic has put many of us in a state of “high alert”, which may cause us to assess every situation through a filter of caution, worry and fear. Interpreting daily life through such a negative lens can lead to depression and/or anxiety.

So how can we prevent these thoughts/concerns from damaging our mental health? Through the framework of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a person can learn how to identify ingrained assumptions and negative thoughts. Once we have identified these assumptions, we can then “challenge” them with alternative interpretations of the same events.   

Here are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to defuse “automatic negative thoughts” related to the pandemic or other troubling situations in our live:

-Am I making assumptions about the situation? Am I assuming the worst?

-Is there a way to look at the positives in the situation? What can I accept about the situation?

-Is the way I am thinking helping the situation? Or making it worse?

-How much of the situation is in my control?

-Do I have a trusted friend with whom I can check in about my anxious/depressed thoughts?-How can my religious or spiritual beliefs help me with this?

-How have I made it through stressful times in the past?

Asking ourselves these questions may enable us to:  

-Release matters that are beyond our control.

-Feel empowered in the things we can control.

-Gain a sense of balance rather than becoming mired in “all or nothing” thinking.

-Accurately assess a stressor and recognize our own strengths and resiliency.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help individuals find a healthier way to respond to many of life’s challenges, past or present. The Licensed Clinical Social Workers of CJFS offer CBT as well as other approaches to overall wellness and improved mental health.

To learn more or make an appointment, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, marcy@cjfsbham.org or 205.879.3438.