Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thought Monitoring

When you are depressed, it may seem as though your mood is uniformly down-in-the-dumps and low. It’s not, it rises and falls. You may not notice, however, as you are focused on the negative aspects of your life and situations. Also, when you are depressed, you are likely to fall into the downward-spiral trap making it even harder to notice the rises.

            You might not believe me that it rises, but if you think about it, maybe it’s a 2/10 right now, but earlier it was a 3/10. A good exercise for noticing when and what triggers your dropping mood, carry around a pen and pad of paper for a week and whenever you notice your mood dropping (even a little) write down what was going through your mind. It also helps to write down the situation in which you noticed the mood drop. You don’t need to wait for obvious traumatic experiences, just whenever you notice yourself feeling worse.

            Initially this might be frustrating as you draw blanks when questioning what was going through your mind – settle with answering in guesses “uhh... maybe I didn’t want to get bit by the dog I just saw”. That’s fine, work with the guesses for now – it gets you into the flow of noticing your thoughts and your feelings and how they correspond. Eventually it will get easier (as all things do with practice!). These automatic thoughts will gradually start to show themselves. You may start noticing a pattern (which will reveal some distorted beliefs you hold) as you recognize the same thoughts over and over – these are your primary negative automatic thoughts.
            If it gets too redundant to re-write the same thoughts, just put checks or x’s beside the thoughts and tally them up at the end of the week! You will then notice which of these automatic thoughts contribute the most to shaping your mood.

                                                                        Conquer on!

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