5 Common Cognitive Distortions
March 29, 2017
The term cognitive distortion was firstly introduced by Aaron Beck in 1972 and was researched further by his student David Burns in 1980. Cognitive distortions are thinking patterns that are associated with negative thoughts and emotions, as the individual perceives reality in an inaccurate way. As a result, one might avoid certain situations or experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. If these thoughts persist they could create more permanent thinking patterns, which are difficult to break. This happens when they are associated with certain behaviours and end up creating dysfunctional vicious cycles of reciprocal cause and effect.
- All of Nothing thinking
This type of distortion refers to thoughts that are either extremely positive or extremely negative. Things could either be black or white, there is no room for grey or a different shade. Typical words that match this pattern are “Always” or “Never” and they both tend to be emphasized by the individual.
This happens when someone makes a broad conclusion based on insufficient evidence. This is mostly based on a single incident or minimum information. Overgeneralisation could result in fear of certain things, especially when it is not challenged over time and remains unchanged. For example, if someone once had a negative experience with a blood test, he/she might end up fearing tests in general, if the perception that “Bloods tests are frightening” is unaltered.
- Minimising or Magnifying
When someone gives proportionally greater way to a value, thought or situation then they tend to magnify it. Contrary to this, when one tries to lessen the impact of something, then they tend to minimise it. Magnifying could result in symptoms of depression when it occurs over a period of time, as the negative experiences tend to be perceived as “disasters”. Another example of this could be a patient with a diagnosis of anaemia due to borderline low iron levels. On the magnifying scenario they might believe that they need blood transfusion urgently, even if they have not tried yet any other type of treatment.
- Jumping to Conclusions
This happens when an individual reaches a conclusion based on little evidence. This could be in the form of fortune telling, when they feel they can predict the future. As an example, a patient might not have a scan because they believe they already know the outcome. On a similar note, they might avoid seeing the doctor because they feel he will give them a distressing diagnosis.
Based on overgeneralisation, the individual tends to think that a person’s actions are attributed to their character or personality and are not accidental. This could also be associated with their evaluation about theirs or other people’s worth. An example of that could be when someone makes a mistake, instead of letting go and carrying on they might feel they are “losers” or “incapable”.
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
The alarming signs of Burnout
March 2, 2017
Burnout is a syndrome which is caused by emotional exhaustion, fatigue and failure to meet the demands of work and daily life. It results in depersonalisation and a feeling of decreased personal accomplishment. It could be described as a type of chronic stress which, if not addressed, will at some point lead to physical and mental exhaustion. It is unfortunately quite common among healthcare professionals due to the nature of their work, the characteristics of the health care environment, time pressure, lack of control over work processes as well as the intensity and frustrations of clinical work.
A recent study (2015) conducted by the Mayo Clinic, in partnership with the American Medical Association, found that more than half of American physicians have at least one sign of burnout. This signified a 9% increase from previous results of a similar study conducted in 2012. These statistics are not expected to be significantly different for other countries.
There are some signs which could indicate the beginning of burnout. If you notice that you have the majority of these signs, it is advisable to consult a mental health specialist. However, it is not only the existence of these signs that determines burnout, but also their intensity. The higher their degree the more possibilities you have in experiencing this condition. Some of the warning signs are:
- Insomnia: You may have trouble falling asleep or waking up several times during the night, without being able to go back to sleep. Insomnia might get worse with time and might end up as an inability to sleep, even though you feel extremely tired. Anxiety and depression are the main causes of insomnia.
- Impaired concentration: Your mind is overwhelmed with information and responsibilities you need to fulfil. You are constantly thinking of something or trying to get jobs done. At some point, you will start feeling that your concentration worsens and this will gradually result in incapability to carry out your work.
- Physical symptoms: The most common ones are headaches, stomach pain, heart palpitations, chest pain and/or dizziness. This is a consequence of emotional factors being somatised and expressed by our body. Loss of appetite could also be related to these.
- Tiredness: This starts by feeling tired and lacking energy at certain times. As the symptoms get worse you reach the level of feeling emotionally and physically drained. Your motivation is decreased to a minimum and performing simple tasks seems quite challenging.
- Depression: This is the outcome of chronic stress as well as depletion of energy. By considering yourself as unproductive your self-esteem is affected. Reduced self-worth could lead to guilt, remorse and loss of incentive.
- Anger: This could act in combination with depression as a form of passive aggressive behaviour. It may be towards your family, friends, work colleagues or yourself. Lack of sleep, loss of appetite and anxiety may trigger anger, which in combination with emotional factors may lead to a vicious circle of helplessness.
Burnout is a serious condition, which needs to be addressed. The positive news is that the earlier we detect it and work on it, the better and longer lasting results we can get.
Health and Wellness Coach
How to boost your self-esteem and feel better
March 1, 2017
Read my new article as published on the online wellness magazine Wellness in Dubai!
How to boost your self-esteem and feel better
WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?
Self-esteem is a psychological term which describes one person’s perception about their self-worth. It is a mixture of beliefs, which include appearance, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and is affected by several factors, that are mainly environmental and to a much lesser extent genetic. Hence, self-esteem is created and developed from our own life experiences. Finding ways to increase self-esteem will have a positive impact, not only on our behaviours and our willingness to start a new challenge but could also lead to higher levels of satisfaction and wellness.
Self-esteem is built on our life experiences. Either positive or negative they all contribute to our perceptions. The critical part is to learn how to assess past experiences in a positive way, regardless of their outcome.
While reminiscing the past, we need to gain strength from our previous successes but also see our failures as instructive examples and skills for the future, not as mistakes. If we succeed in something for once, we usually gain the confidence to try it again. However, it is also important, even if we have failed in something before, instead of avoiding it, to re-assess it, find out what we omitted and give it another chance. Fear of unknown could also trigger behaviours of avoidance. Strong motivation and firm belief in self-worth could help overcome this obstacle.
5 SIMPLE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
DON’T BE AFRAID TO START
The beginning is the most crucial step. One of the best ways to build on self-esteem is to try new things, especially those that seem inconceivable. Break down a bigger goal into smaller and start with the easiest or smallest of these. In most cases approaching what we would like to achieve, but are afraid of, helps us realise it is less complicated than we initially perceived. Hence, the first step is building on the second and this goes on until we reach the final goal!
THE ROLE MODEL
One of the ways to feel stronger and more confident in our ability is to watch the success of a role model. This person could be one of our friends or relatives, with whom we identify with, or a fictional character. The fact that someone, who we believe shares something in common with us, has succeeded, is boosting our positive attitude. The belief we can accomplish something is getting stronger and so does our readiness for action.
THE “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”
The “significant others” is a psychological term for the people of importance in our lives. When these people are supportive, our self-esteem increases as they reassure us of our capabilities. The more meaningful someone is to us, the more the effect his views have. If you have a friend, partner, relative or colleague who is supportive and encouraging, it would be beneficial to share your goals and ideas with them so that you can gain a self-esteem boost.
FEAR AND STRESS AS CHALLENGES
Fear and stress are working against self-esteem. They could transform the simplest action to a maze, even if the action is as straightforward as getting out of the house. This could potentially result in low self-esteem. When we feel stressed it is very important to take a step back along with a deep breath and try to view the situation in realistic terms. At that point, the assistance of someone we trust could be effective. Another effective strategy is to write down our thoughts and then re-assess them.
REMEMBER THE SAND CASTLES
Build you self-esteem just as you were building sand castles in childhood. They were not castles from the beginning and certainly, there were not made on their own. You dedicated time and creativity. The same concept works on self-esteem, as it is built on daily victories. When we acknowledge our little everyday successes, even if we perform a simple task, we reinforce the belief that we are capable and confident. Our personal castle could be a life of wellness and fulfilment!