Many people develop unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors over time, not realizing how simple things like a single unhealthy coping mechanism in response to a traumatic event can have long-term and far-reaching impacts on their overall health.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to change your behaviors and thoughts for the better.
Change Your Behaviors and Thoughts with CBT
Cognitive behavioral therapy gives you an opportunity to change your behaviors and thoughts. Sometimes, people don’t realize how they have developed automatic, negative thoughts over the years or the impact those thoughts have on aspects like:
Let’s look at an example:
Growing up, Isabel faced many difficulties. She dealt with physical abuse from her stepfather, and her father was emotionally distant toward her. Every time she called her father as a child, he was always annoyed and asked why she was calling him, because if there wasn’t a reason, he didn’t want to talk to her. Her family was very poor, so there were constant money issues. When Isabel was only 13, her mother started experiencing severe health problems and nearly died several times over the next three years.
Because of all of this, Isabel developed a viewpoint that nothing good ever lasts and that something terrible is always waiting around the corner.
Now, as an adult, Isabel catastrophizes. When her boss asks to speak with her at the end of the day, she automatically assumes it’s because she’s being fired. After all, in her mind, she has had good luck so far in her job, which means something terrible is waiting around the corner.
But in reality, her boss wanted to give her a promotion because of her good work.
In another instance, Isabel’s partner texted her, saying they needed to talk later that evening, and she assumed that because things had been going well in her relationship, the talk would be nothing short of a breakup.
But in reality, her partner wanted to plan a vacation for Isabel to congratulate her on the promotion.
In Isabel’s example, it’s very likely that she has gone through her adult life and her relationships unaware that she automatically assumes things are going to fall apart. But with cognitive behavioral therapy, she could learn:
- What these automatic thoughts are
- Where they come from
- How to change them
You can change your behaviors and your thoughts by simply identifying harmful automatic thought patterns and transforming them into supportive, positive thought patterns.
Use Recreational Activities to Change Your Behaviors and Thoughts
Recreational activities offer another avenue to change your behaviors and thoughts. Research proves that engaging in recreational activities can reduce stress and improve mood.
- The more you engage in recreational activities, the less often you have negative moods, and the more often you have positive moods
- Recreational activities can help you avoid boredom or unhealthy behaviors, protecting you from external stress
- Recreational activities can improve your intrapersonal skills by teaching you new skills and helping you become physically healthier
- Physical activity directly contributes to better physical health, interpersonal skills, and self-esteem
Let’s look at another example:
Dave has struggled with low self-esteem most of his life. He doesn’t have much support in terms of friends or family. While he does have a good job and makes a decent living, he has also struggled with severe depression and anxiety disorder.
Dave has a hard time maintaining relationships because he is constantly assessing how he thinks other people perceive him and voicing self-deprecating doubts he has about his own value or worth.
In Dave’s example, recreational activities like rock climbing could teach him new skills and help boost his self-esteem. Dave would learn that he has value not just because he can do a new skill but because of the self-reflection and mood boost that comes with that skill. A recreational activity in a group setting would help Dave meet new people, have a chance to build friendships, and work through his anxiety.
Water Gap Wellness Center Can Help
Holistic treatments and therapies can provide you with the skills you need to assess your thoughts and behaviors and change them for the better. With professional resources like those offered at Water Gap Wellness Center, you can participate in outpatient mental health services that give you these tools. Our drug rehab and mental health treatment center, conveniently located near New York and New Jersey, offers holistic care.
Reach out to our Pennsylvania mental health retreat today to learn more about CBT or recreational activities as an avenue for personal change.