I’ve got 1 week until I start my new job and I’ve been working really hard to try and get myself physically better and in a mentally stable place.

It’s no secret, like many people, that work brings on a lot of our mental health triggers and admittedly, it’s probably one of my biggest fears going into my new job next week.

Instead of sitting and worrying about the ‘what ifs’, I’ve been trying to concentrating on the ‘hows’, such as ‘How can I prepare for a bout of bad mental health while at work?‘.

I thought the first step in this is to try and be proactive and get into some good habits. Eating well, exercising, mindfulness etc. That was quite ambitious and I most certainly did not pull it off – but it is something I aim to do in the future. What I did try, and am currently part way through a course of, is group CBT standing for cognitive behavioural therapy.

The course is free through a service called Mind Matters and was referred through my doctor. Every county will have a different sort of provider, but I guarantee if you ask your doctor about it, they can point you in the right direction.

When I first found out about group therapy – the panic set in… I imagined, AA style – ‘my name is Lauren and I have depression and anxiety’ introductions, listening to everyones heartfelt story and chanting ‘we’re here for you’ back at them, and awkward role plays and over-sharing. It was not like that at all.

I think everyone associates group therapy with what they see in the movies. No one ever really gets much out of it the movies, it’s often ridiculed by the protaganist as useless and below them. I went into my first session feeling very similar.

In reality, CBT group therapy is more like a lesson in school or a seminar at uni. We talk through different ways of thinking – like behaviours to thoughts and emotions and how everything is interconnected. It’s very logical and not very emotional which was really different for me. You are not forced to talk or contribute, you can happily sit back and listen.

We talk through ‘case studies’ and are invited to share our own strategies and coping mechanisms. It is not quite the emotional cult that appears in films and TV programmes.

The best thing we’re asked to do is reflect. We’re constantly reflecting on our own thoughts and behaviours as these are much easier to change than emotions and physical symptoms.

This is the 5 part model that CBT is predominantly based on:

cbt 5 step therory

I don’t want to bore you with details of how it works, but if anyone wants to ask me about it, it’s a really interesting way of looking at triggering situations.

I’ve got a couple of weeks left and I’m really excited to learn more about it and myself. I’d seriously urge you to consider CBT if you a) don’t want to use medication b) feel counselling isn’t for you or c) want to try something new and different.

Don’t listen to myths or preconceptions displayed on the big screen, give it a go and make a judgement for yourself.

Positive of the day: We walked Rufus last night and we have him all of Saturday afternoon (I’m so excited).

cats