Finding Effective Ways to Empower and Express Yourself
Written by Katie Dobinson, clinical psychologist at THIS WAY UP
Sometimes when we’re struggling we don’t always understand what’s really going on under the surface. But, knowledge is power.
Understanding more about our emotions can empower us to navigate our emotional worlds. It also empowers us to express ourselves when we would like our needs met or heard. The more we can learn to recognise, define and label our emotions, the more connected we can start to feel with ourselves – and each other.
Build your mental health literacy
Think about how you address a problem with physical health… the process of recovery when you’re physically unwell starts with identifying that something is wrong and labelling the symptom. For example, you might notice having a sore throat, then you visit your doctor and describe the symptoms you’re experiencing. Our mental health is much the same, but often it’s much more difficult to define or find the words to describe how you’re feeling.
A helpful place to start is by expanding your mental health vocabulary for the range of emotional experiences you, or your loved ones, might be experiencing.
We are all familiar with the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and fear – but these don’t always accurately describe your inner experiences. We’ve put together a resource that takes you through the alphabet of emotions from A-Z, listing different emotions and helpful skills to manage that particular feeling (free to download and save here).
CBT: what you think and do affects the way you feel.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based intervention that is effective for the treatment of many common mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression. In CBT, you learn practical skills to manage unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, as well as how to reduce intensity of negative emotional experiences.
Some of the terms you may hear or learn about in CBT include:
- Thought challenging: Examining your thoughts against the facts and reality of a situation, then developing an alternative, balanced thought instead of negative or unhelpful ones. You learn to consider alternative perspectives and think of the bigger picture, rather than instantly believing unhelpful thoughts.
- Exposure: Means facing your fears. Exposure is a core part of CBT, where you learn to gradually, one step-at-a-time, reduce unhelpful behaviours like avoidance and learn that you can face and overcome the things that lead to anxiety.
- Worry Time: Rather than getting caught in worries throughout the day, this skill involves setting aside a specific time each day to allow yourself to worry. This frees-up the rest of your day to re-focus on other things that matter to you.
- Activity Scheduling: Involves planning out activities to complete, that bring a sense of achievement, pleasure, or connection. When we are depressed, it can be hard to engage in activities. Activity scheduling helps to break the cycle of depression by planning achievable things to do each day.
For a taste of CBT skills to manage various emotions, take a look at our new resource: ‘The ABC of CBT’. Understanding the ABC of CBT can be the first step to help you find the right words for how you’re feeling, to then identify what actions can help improve your wellbeing. It also provides you with the language to use with others, be that a trusted loved one, or health professional, to describe how you’re feeling and accept support.
Have the confidence to label how you feel – and share it too
Language empowers us to communicate our struggles more effectively. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to describe a painful, confusing, or unfamiliar emotion. By learning more about emotions, this can bring an ease and confidence to label how you’re feeling, notice when others might be going through a tough time, and give you the language to be able to talk about it together.
Conversations about our emotions and inner experiences promotes connection and compassion in relationships, helps us to feel understood, and reminds us we are not alone.
CBT… it’s (almost) as easy as 1,2,3
You can start building up more mental health literacy today with a THIS WAY UP evidence-based Mental Health Treatment Program.
Our interventions are available online and they are ready when you are.
If you’re not sure where to start, take our anonymous online test to check how you feel and see which program may be suitable.
Don’t forget to download and save our ABC of CBT resource!
Not Sure which program is for you?
Take a Test to Help You Choose a Program
If you’re unsure which program to pick, take our anonymous online test to check how you feel and see which program may be suitable. This test will show you your levels of stress, anxiety, or depression and will make suggestions on what you can do next.