CBT – Specific Goals

Are your goals specific? If your goal is to be more positive, begin by choosing a specific aspect of your life which you want to be more positive in. Is it your goal to travel somewhere? If yes, where? When? If you’d like to be less anxious or would like to be able to cope better in social situations, begin by choosing a specific situation in which you want to be less anxious or more at ease. Would you like to change your job? If so, what would you like to do? Would you like to work freelance? Or maybe be your own boss?

If your goal is an issue or a problem that you would like to deal with, think about the outcome once the problem had been solved. What do you see yourself doing?

The more specific your goals are, the better your chances of achieving them!

Write down your specific goal or goals.

CBT exercise – Goal Setting

In order to work with CBT you need something specific to aim for, perhaps a situation you’d like to change for the better or maybe you would even like the confidence to be able to do something.

Long story short… you need a goal.

The benefit of having goals is having a positive path you can follow. As you achieve each of your goals it creates momentum that helps you to develop good habits.

Think about what you would like to achieve, maybe within a month, three months, six months or even in the next year.

Ask yourself:

“What do I want to achieve?”

“How would I like things to be different?”

“What do I want to be able to do, but don’t have the confidence yet?”

Whatever your goals, write them down. They can be anything!

MH370 – What Happened?

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, after taking off from Kuala Lumpur airport bound for Beijing. It lost contact with air traffic control just 40 minutes after take-off, over the South China Sea and disappeared from radar. It was never seen or heard from again and has since been dubbed one of aviations greatest mysteries.

So what happened to MH370?

In the the five years following its disappearance, theories have spread like wildfire, ranging from technical issues to on board involvement. Unfortunately we live in a world where hijacking a plane is a very real possibility, and the captain of MH370 has long been suspected as being responsible for the planes demise. I feel as though it is safe to assume that five years without the plane resurfacing anywhere on the planet and no contact at all from anyone on board in an age where technology is everywhere, MH370 is resting at the bottom of the ocean, most likely an incredibly deep part of the ocean. There have been searches which so far have failed to locate any remains of the aircraft. However, during October 2017, twenty pieces of debris believed to be from MH370 had been recovered from beaches in the western Indian Ocean; eighteen of the items were “identified as being very likely or almost certain to originate from MH370”, while the other two were “assessed as probably from the aircraft.”

Media reports named the aircrafts captain as being the most likely responsible for the disaster citing that the ”troubled and lonely” captain was depressed and deliberately killed himself as well as the other 238 people on board the Malaysian Airlines jet by climbing to 40,000ft so his aircraft would depressurise and those on board would slowly die of suffocation before he crashed it into the Indian Ocean.

Until the day MH370 is located and we are able to retrieve the information from her flight recorder and black box I don’t think we will ever truly know what happened on that fateful day.

Mental health and exercise

There are lots of reasons why being active is good for your body – having a healthy heart and improving joints and bones are just two.

But, did you know that it is also beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing?

We need to change the way we view being active in the UK in order not to see it as something we ‘have to do’, ‘should do’ or ‘ought to do’ for our health, but as something that we do because we personally value its positive benefits to our wellbeing.

Being active doesn’t have to mean doing sport or going to the gym. There are lots of ways to be active; find the one that works for you.

What impact does physical activity have on wellbeing?

Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even just a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Regular physical exercise can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people who are experiencing mental health problems.

Mood

It has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood. A study asked people to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity (e.g. going for a walk or doing housework), and periods of inactivity (e.g. reading a book or watching television). Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity. They also found that the effect of physical activity on mood was greatest when mood was initially low. There are many studies looking at physical activity at different levels of intensity and its impact on people’s mood. Overall, research has found that low-intensity aerobic exercise – for 30–35 minutes, 3–5 days a week, for 10–12 weeks – was best at increasing positive moods.

Stress

When events occur that make us feel threatened or that upset our balance in some way, our body’s defences cut in and create a stress response, which may make us feel a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms and make us behave differently, and we may also experience emotions more intensely.The most common physical signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, and loss of appetite. Symptoms like these are triggered by a rush of stress hormones in our body – otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. It is these hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which raise our blood pressure, increase our heart rate and increase the rate at which we perspire, preparing our body for an emergency response. They can also reduce blood flow to our skin and can reduce our stomach activity, while cortisol, another stress hormone, releases fat and sugar into the system to boost our energy.

Physical exercise can be very effective in relieving stress. Research on employed adults has found that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active.

Self esteem

Not only does physical activity have a positive impact on our physical health, but it can also increase our self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our self-worth. It is a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors.

Physical activity has been shown to have a positive influence on our self-esteem and self-worth. This relationship has been found in all age ranges and across both males and females.

Dementia and cognitive decline in older people

Improvements in healthcare have led to an increasing life expectancy and a growing population of people over 65 years. Alongside this increase in life expectancy, there has been an increase in the number of people living with dementia as well as people with cognitive decline. The main symptom of dementia is memory loss; it is a progressive disease that results in people becoming more impaired over time. Decline in cognitive functions, such as attention and concentration, also occurs in older people, including those who do not develop dementia. Physical activity has been identified as a protective factor in studies that examined risk factors for dementia. For people who have already developed the disease, physical activity can help to delay further decline in functioning. Studies show that there is approximately a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity. Physical activity also seems to reduce the likelihood of experiencing cognitive decline in people who do not have dementia.

Depression and anxiety

It can also be an alternative treatment for depression, it can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with medication and/or psychological therapy. Physical activity has few side effects and does not have the stigma that some people perceive to be attached to taking antidepressants or attending psychotherapy and counselling.

It can reduce levels of anxiety in people with mild symptoms and may also be helpful for treating clinical anxiety. Physical activity is also available to everyone, has few costs attached, and is an empowering approach that can support self-management.

Amy Winehouse

Her beehive and her unique vocals made her instantly recognisable but underneath that, Amy Winehouse was a troubled soul. Born on 14th September 1983 in South London, Amy’s love of jazz was influenced by her family. Her father would often sing Frank Sinatra to her. Amy was signed to Simon Fuller’s 19 Management in 2002. Her debut album Frank was released in October 2003 and entered the upper levels of the UK charts in 2004. Frank went on to achieve platinum sales and was also nominated for two Brit Awards. Back To Black was Amy’s next studio album, released in the UK on 30th October 2006. The album was an all out success, it was the worlds seventh biggest selling album of 2008.

But amid the stardom and the successful career, Amy was waging a war against herself. Some speculate that the mid 2006 death of her grandmother sent Amy into her addiction. Amy herself during interviews admitted to experiencing problems with self harm, eating disorders as well as depression. A US reporter writes that Winehouse was a “victim of mental illness in a society that doesn’t understand or respond to mental illness with great effectiveness.”

Amy experienced various legal issues, as well as harassment from the press. She abstained from drug but quickly fell into alcohol abuse.

At 3:54pm on 23rd July 2011, two ambulances were called to Amy’s home, where she had tragically passed away. After her death was announced, media and camera crews appeared, as crowds gathered near Winehouse’s residence to pay their respects. Forensic investigators entered the flat as police cordoned off the street outside; they recovered one small and two large bottles of vodka from her room.

A coroner’s inquest reached a verdict of misadventure. The report released on 26 October 2011 explained that Winehouse’s alcohol content was 416 mg per 100 ml (0.416%) at the time of her death, more than five times the legal drink drive level. According to the coroner, “The unintended consequences of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden death.” It was confirmed in a later investigation that Amy’s cause of death was alcohol poisoning.

Amy’s parents set up The Amy Winehouse Foundation to prevent harm from drug misuse among young people, and her brother Alex is an employee.

There was a large amount of media attention devoted to the 27 club once again. Just three years earlier, she had expressed a fear of dying at that age.

Cory Monteith

On July 13th 2013 a popular actors life was abruptly cut short. That actor was Cory Monteith. A star in the hit series Glee, Cory had the world at his feet. So what went wrong for this tragic young man that sent him into a spiral of self destruction?

Cory had a troubled adolescence, his parents divorced when he was 7, and he saw little of his father due to his commitment to the military. Cory also had social difficulties at school and was battling with substance abuse at age 13. An intervention from his family pushed him to enter rehab at 19. After breaking into show biz Cory had periods of stability and abstinence from drugs. However, during March of 2013 he sought treatment after being urged to do so by the Glee cast and crew. He completed his treatment on April 26th 2013.

Saturday 13th July, Cory’s body was discovered after he failed to check out of his hotel room in Vancouver, he was 31 years old. The final autopsy report, released by the British Columbia Coroners Service on October 2, 2013, confirmed previous findings of accidental death. It noted that Monteith also had codeine and morphine in his system at the time of his death, and that he was found with drug paraphernalia that included a spoon with drug residue and a used hypodermic needle, as well as two empty bottles of champagne. The coroner also wrote that Cory had experienced intermittent periods of drug abuse and abstinence throughout his life, and that “after a period of cessation from opioid drug use, a previously tolerated drug concentration level may become toxic and fatal.” His stay in rehab only months before his death, and his attempt to stay off drugs, was ultimately responsible for his lowered tolerance to the drug.

Such a tragic end to such a talented actor. It is clear that Cory had tried hard to beat his demons and incredibly unfortunate that his demons overcame him.

Just a thought…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I am about to discuss.

I witnessed an exchange recently between a parent and their son. Their son was cold so decided to go inside and the parent began making fun of him. Calling him what I am sure seemed like a harmless name and may have been joking, but my point is this… in a world where mental illness has reached crisis levels, we as a society need to be teaching our children, particularly our boys, that vulnerability does not make them weak, nor does it make them the name I heard this parent call their child.

I am not by any means trying to parent shame, we need to be conscious of the things we joke about with our children. The things we may deem as harmless fun could have a detrimental effect on their mental wellbeing.