The worry box technique is a simple skill used to help you manage when and how you worry. This sounds simplistic, and on its face it is. However, the results can truly help you place and pace worry better than simply allowing the random worries to crawl around in your head in the unending, unresolved circular pattern they tend to create.
Why Bother Using Coping Skills?
If you aren’t practicing coping skills you learn in therapy regularly while calm, there’s a good chance a skill such as deep belly breathing won’t be as effective as you’d like. When the nervous system dysregulates quickly to fight or flight, instantly really, that lets me know you may need to work on stretching the threshold for your fight or flight response, which requires practicing coping skills when calm.
Your OCD thoughts (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) are false alarms, and you have to treat them as such. What research from Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, UCLA School of Medicine shows: Bio-behavioral treatment works for retraining the brain that is stuck in OCD thought patterns. It’s not easy, but it is longer lasting and more permanently effective than relying on what he calls the “water wings” approach to treatment—that is meds only. There is no medication on the planet that will retrain your brain. Schwartz describes doing this training in the four steps below.
There is no medication on the planet that will retrain your brain.
How often do you dump your spam? If I asked you how often you get spam, I bet there would be a different answer. I could go to my spam folder daily and see dozens of useless offers, from site SEO “experts” to weirdo names like “instrut” or “esiff”, and many foreign language offers to do who knows what. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I never look at the content.
Not looking at the content is a normal behavior for those who receive a lot of spam emails. But what about those of you who receive lots of unwanted spammy thoughts, intrusive thoughts that make you cringe, or ones where you genuinely fear that you might carry out some heinous deed? Frequent, frightening, obsessive, or disturbing thoughts are the hallmark of obsessive compulsive disorder of the thought variety, aka OCD. I’m going to name some frequent fliers that occur for people with OCD, and give examples, because so much shame permeates this disorder. It needs to be said out loud to remove the stigma. You are not alone. Good, kind people have these tormenting thoughts, and I want to help them, possibly you.
I’m sorry. Estrangement is truly heartbreaking. The stories I hear on this topic are always heartbreaking, and include much ongoing, unresolved loss. The stories hold such longing for what could have been rich, healthy, and loving relationships. It happens between siblings, parents and children, and in-laws.
These are always stories about wretched boundaries and differing belief systems, from political parties to substance abuse, and to mental health disorders that disrupt even the possibility of “normal.”
The issues will often be generational as well, passed down in a chain that is among the hardest to break. I often tell clients that the very difficult work they are embarking on is heroic. It requires So. Much. Courage.
I’ll offer some examples of what this can look like.
Sooo many times, we need to complete a task, and the first thought is “I don’t feel like it!” Thinking in opposites is a strategy I want to offer you to challenge this thought. Here’s why.
Why so guilty? Or maybe I should ask ‘Why are you so afraid of being yourself?’
Connection or protection? How are you wired? Did you know that love wires us for connection but trauma wires us for protection? Sometimes over-protection. Sometimes under-protection. Here’s how.
If you have anxiety sensitivity, here are 10 factors that contribute to “Sticky Thoughts.” Sticky thoughts are the ones you just can’t shake loose. Sticky thoughts predispose your mind to anxiety and hyper-vigilance. They tend to keep you stuck in your own personal anxiety loop that is both unproductive and self-shaming. That is why learning to identify and talk back to them is critical to your good mental well being.
The 10 Sticky Thoughts Factors
- Sleep deprivation/insomnia
- Drinking alcohol
- [Some] OTC medications
- Steroids of any type, asthma meds
- Your genetic inheritance is a factor
- Any illness, a cold, for example
- Caffeine or sugar intake—notice what affects your body
- A natural cycle upon wakening that many feel as a sort of dread of the day, which lessens over the course of the day
- Hormone fluctuations
- Hyper-vigilance, or monitoring of the content of the mind is the most prevalent factor of all.
BONUS ROUND!!! Social Media! Devices! They are the trigger for so many of our sticky thoughts.
I am a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), and they often publish articles of value that I like to share with you. The following “Ten Tips For Dealing With Mental Exhaustion” is one such article.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Couples Counseling
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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