That is, can you quickly determine whether or not you have accomplished a task? If the answer is "no," then the activity you identified is likely too vague. For example, let's say that you came up with the activity, "Get organized.
What do you want to organize? If you organize your bills, does this mean that you have accomplished this task, or is there more to organize? Instead, you may want to come up with the activity, "Organize my kitchen. When activities are specific and measurable, it can give you more direction in doing behavioral activation. Although behavioral activation may sound easy, it can be hard to do when you're feeling down or very anxious.
Therefore, you want to make sure you can see progress quickly. If you're experiencing very low motivation or high levels of anxiety, the most important thing is to get moving to make sure that avoidance behavior doesn't set in. You can do this by ranking your list of activities from easiest to hardest. Once you have this list set up, choose a couple of activities that are going to be very easy for you to accomplish.
In doing so, you can make sure that you get active but also don't stress yourself out too much. It's important that behavioral activation doesn't become overwhelming or a source of stress for you. By starting out with some easy activities, you can also foster motivation that can eventually make it easier to tackle the harder activities.
You also don't want behavioral activation to become boring.here
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Mix it up when it comes to the activities that you choose. The more variety you have, the more balanced your life will become and the more likely your motivation to continue to use behavioral activation as a coping strategy for your PTSD and depression will continue. If you're finding that it's difficult to be motivated when it comes to behavioral activation, ask others for support. Establish a contract with a friend or family member. Let him or her know about your activities and what you would like to accomplish during the week.
Your friend or family member can then help you accomplish that activity or check in with you during the week to see how your progress is going. He or she can also serve as a cheerleader for you, increasing your motivation. Even when people are active and engaging in pleasurable activities, they can still exhibit avoidance behaviors. They may be stuck in their heads, worrying, or ruminating about the past. This is going to make it difficult to connect with the positive aspects of engaging in a meaningful activity.
Behavioral activation is an excellent way of addressing some of the symptoms of PTSD, including avoidance behavior and symptoms of emotional numbing. In addition, behavioral activation can reduce your risk for depression and, if you have depression, help treat it. Although behavioral activation may sound simple enough, it can be difficult to do, especially if you're experiencing low motivation or a high level of anxiety.
In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Therefore, it's important to set reasonable goals and take things slow. Start off with just a few activities and from there, slowly build up the number of activities you engage in each week. Even engaging in a small number of activities can have a big impact on your mood. Finally, remember to reward yourself for the progress that you make.
Recognize your accomplishments. Doing so can increase your motivation to keep moving forward, especially during those times when your mood is down. With one step at a time, you can use behavioral activation to build a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Learn the best ways to manage stress and negativity in your life. More in PTSD. List Activities From Easiest to Hardest.
It may be possible, but is it likely? Finally, after challenging a negative thought and evaluating it more objectively, try to come up with an alternative thought that is more balanced and realistic. Doing this can help lower your distress.
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In addition to coming up with realistic statements, try to come up with some quick and easy-to-remember coping statements e. It can also be particularly helpful to write down your realistic thoughts or helpful coping statements on an index card or piece of paper. Then, keep this coping card with you to help remind you of these statements when you are feeling too distressed to think clearly.
So, in this case, taking the stairs prevents you from learning that nothing bad happens when you do take the elevator. Exposure involves gradually and repeatedly entering feared situations until you feel less anxious. You start with situations that only cause you a little bit of anxiety, and you work your way up to facing things that cause you a greater deal of anxiety See Facing Fears: Exposure. The first step involves making a list of the situations, places or objects that you fear. Once you have a list, order it from the least scary to the scariest.
Starting with the situation that causes you the least anxiety, repeatedly take part in that activity or face that situation e.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT stresses the importance of facing fears on a regular basis. The more you practice, the faster your fears will fade! Having successes and feeling good about your progress is a powerful motivator to keep going.
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A relapse is a complete return to all of your old ways of thinking and behaving before you learned new strategies for managing your problem. Here are some tips on how to prevent lapses and relapses:. Keep practicing your CBT skills! This is the best way to prevent a relapse. Know when you are more vulnerable to having a lapse e.
It also helps to make a list of warning signs e. This might involve, for example, practicing some CBT skills like calm breathing or challenging your negative thinking. Remember that, like everyone else on earth, you are a work in progress! A good way to prevent future lapses is to continue working on new challenges. If you have had a lapse, try to figure out what situation led you to it.
This can help you make a plan to cope with difficult situations in the future. How you think about your lapse has a huge impact on your later behaviour. If you have a lapse, you can get back on track. Remember that lapses are normal and can be overcome. Be kind to yourself, and realize that we all make mistakes sometimes! A reward might be going out for a nice meal or buying yourself a little treat. Managing anxiety is not always easy or fun, and you deserve a reward for your hard work!
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