Thoughts

There are many studies that show that psychological therapies can help us to manage the way we think and behave. These therapies recognise that if we can alter our thinking and look rationally at difficulties that arise, we can shift from negative or unhelpful thoughts and reactions to more positive and problem-solving approaches.


Ways to improve stress management

Thought monitoring 

A useful way to learn the connection between our thoughts and the way we feel is to take notes after stressful situations occur.

Situation

Recall a recent situation that you found upsetting or difficult: What happened? Where? Who was involved? When?

My colleague was abrupt and dismissive with me after I asked him to change something in a document.


Mood

What were you feeling? How strong was this mood? (0-100%).

Hurt 80% Angry 90% Frustrated 80%.

Unhelpful thinking

What was going through your mind? What thoughts did you have?

Why does he always make things so difficult? Maybe he doesn’t respect the work I do.

 

 

Man writing in journal

Helpful thinking

Write alternative, balanced thoughts that could have been more helpful.

He’s not always like that. Maybe he’s stressed about his divorce and it’s got nothing to do with me. Maybe I should just ask how he’s going at the moment.

New mood

Rate your moods again after practising helpful thoughts. List any new moods (0-100%)

Hurt 10% Angry 10% Frustrated 20%.

 


 

Addressing unhelpful ways of thinking

Sometimes the way we think or talk to ourselves is negative or unhelpful. Thoughts can increase distressing feelings or make us feel like we're not coping. Below are some examples of common unhelpful or negative thoughts that we're all guilty of from time to time.

Black and white thinking

I must get everything done today before I go home tonight, otherwise everything will be a complete disaster.

What ifs?

 

What if I put all this effort in and fail? I'll never be able to look anyone in the eye again.

Spiral of negatives

I'm not going to get the project finished on schedule, which means I'm useless. This will mean the company will get a bad reputation for sure. I'll end up losing the business at this rate.

Leaping to conclusions

 

My colleague was abrupt with me today. She must be angry with me about what I said at the meeting.

Over-generalising

 

That client has threatened to take his business somewhere else. Therefore all my clients must be unhappy.

One step at a time

 

I'm imagining the worst. I can't be worrying about things that have not happened and may never happen.

Strong, uncompromising words

 

I should ..., I must ..., I always ..., I never ....

Unkind or mean to oneself

 

I'm a failure, I'm stupid, I'm a fraud ... someone will see through me one day and see I'm not all that great after all.

 

Tips for challenging unhelpful thoughts

  • If a close friend or someone I loved was thinking this way, what would I tell them?

  • Five years from now when I look back will I see things differently?

  • Are the things I’m jumping to conclusions about justified by evidence?

  • What am I ignoring about the strengths or positives in me, and how I’m coping at the moment?

 


 

relax

Mindfulness

There a many benefits of mindfulness for wellbeing. Mindfulness exercises make you aware of what you're currently experiencing in the present moment and focus on the now. By doing this, distressing memories or fears for the future can be managed and allow our thoughts to not stray in unhelpful directions.

The Smiling Mind app has some great mindfulness programs you can access for free.

 


 

Monitor your mental health

Monitoring how you're feeling can help protect and nurture your mental health. beyondblue’s Anxiety and Depression Checklist (K10) aims to measure if you have been affected by depression and/or anxiety in the past four weeks. By answering 10 multiple choice questions relating to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, your responses are automatically calculated and an assessment is given on your mental health status. 

While this doesn’t constitute a diagnosis, how you score will provide a guide to how likely you are to be experiencing depression and/or anxiety. You will be given advice on any steps you should consider taking and links to useful information and support.

Your answers and results are completely confidential and none of your information is stored.