This week, fully understand why self-care can seem so hard (and what to do about it, determine if yoga more effective than cognitive-behavioral therapy, and how to deal with intrusive thoughts.
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The 3 Things You Need to Know This Week
Why Does Self-Care Sometimes Feel So Hard?
We are inundated with self-care tips. This long list of to-dos that are meant to make us feel good instead triggers stress. A big reason for that feeling is a psychological phenomenon called negativity bias, according to Psychology Today. Knowing you should take care of yourself is different from actually doing it, and this can cause your perspective around wellness to be negative rather than positive. Negativity bias stems from cognitive distortions. Learn how to spot your cognitive distortions and how to overcome them in this video with psychiatrist and APA fellow, Dr. Sue Varma. There are other factors that make self-care feel so taxing—but there strategies you can use to make it more bearable:
Here they are, and here’s what to do.
- Confusing self-indulgence with self-care. Activities that make us feel good may actually be negative coping mechanisms that we’re mistaking for self-care. These can lead to self-sabotage, but there are ways to identify self-sabotaging behaviors and overcome them.
- Shame. Not doing something you know is good for you can trigger shame. Recognizing shame is the quickest way to dismantle it. Here’s how to dismantle the cognitive distortions that cause shame.
- Setting yourself up to fail. According to clinical psychologist Alicia Clarke, “we set up expectations that might seem reasonable on a really good day, but just aren’t possible when we are tired or extra stressed. We don’t mean to set ourselves up for failure, of course, but we do when we allow our hopes to become our expectations. Predictable feelings of frustration, guilt, and shame can leave us without our optimal coping during the very times we need it most.”
The first step is being honest with yourself about what you can and cannot achieve. Accept the fact that you may be overburdened, and focus on what you can achieve. This fresh perspective can make all the difference.
Source: Psychology Today
Is Yoga as Effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety?
A new study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine sought to understand the impact yoga can have on anxiety compared to traditional talk therapy. 226 men and women with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were given a 12-week treatment of one of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, or information on stress management. The study concluded that CBT was the most effective treatment. However, CBT wasn’t the only technique that worked to some degree.
After those three months, yoga was significantly more effective than the standard stress management instruction. Here’s what else you need to know from the study:
- After six months of follow-up, yoga was no longer significantly better than stress management information.
- After six months, CBT remained significantly more effective, showing that anxiety reduction may last longer with CBT.
- The CBT included psychoeducation, cognitive techniques, and muscle relaxation practice.
- The yoga included postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness.
Whether it be CBT, another kind of talk therapy, medication, or even yoga—different treatments work for different people. Get a comprehensive overview of your treatment options in our original series, Understanding the Anxious Self.
3 Ways to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts
Many of us deal with some degree of intrusive thoughts from time-to-time. However, according to one of the country’s leading OCD experts & MedCircle Educator Dr. Jenny Yip, intrusive thoughts are one of the cornerstones of obsessive-compulsive disorder. She notes,
“Obsessions consist of intrusive thoughts, disturbing mental images or irrational impulses that happen repeatedly & create enormous anxiety. Of course, just because a person has a bad thought doesn’t mean that they have OCD. Yet if the person spends at least an hour every day focused on these intrusive thoughts, then they may have OCD.”
Here are 3 ways to deal with intrusive thoughts:
- Confront your fears. Learning how to confront your fears in a stepwise manner allows you to assess the intrusive thoughts and recognize that they are not truly threatening. Exposure & response therapy walks you through how to do that and how to resist engaging in any resulting compulsive behaviors. According to Dr. Yip, “if you don’t confront the fears, you never get the feedback to confront your mistaken belief, and you give credence to the fear itself.”
- Understand that the resulting compulsions only provide short-term relief. Resist engaging in compulsive behaviors that provide (very) temporary relief from intrusive thoughts. Otherwise, they leads to even more intrusive thoughts. By not engaging in compulsions, your body has to get used to the sensation, which in turn, slowly decreases fear, anxiety, and your fight-or-flight response. According to Dr. Yip, “it’s like exercise for your brain. You have to keep it up, over and over again, so that your resistance to these behaviors gets stronger.”
- Remember that you’re not the only one suffering. At least one in 100 adults are currently living with OCD—and those are just the people who are correctly diagnosed. When you realize you’re not alone, it becomes easier to overcome the stigma and take advantage of the many support systems available.
Intrusive thoughts aren’t the only behaviors of OCD. Discover how to spot them all in our original series, Freedom from OCD. You’ll also learn all the treatment options, and how someone can effectively support their loved one with OCD.