Living functionally with a mental illness is largely about behaviour modification as part of your wellness routine. By definition, if you are mentally ill, many aspects of your behaviour can, at times, be out of your control.
This can be helped through helpful therapies like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) or a mindfulness practice. I plan to write extensively on these topics in the coming weeks and months, as these practices have been extremely helpful in my life.
I don’t have much experience in DBT, as it is most frequently used for individuals with personality disorders, however, in instances of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse, it can be effective by helping people to increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states. From that point, you are given tools to help yourself better cope with thoughts, feelings, and events so that you may adjust your behaviours and avoid undesired reactions.
CBT is considered a psycho-social intervention that is extremely similar to DBT and is the widely used evidence-based practice for improving mental health. Like DBT, the practice of CBT is focused on the development of personal coping strategies that target immediate problems and changing unhealthy patterns in cognition.
Mindfulness is defined as the “quality or state of being conscious or aware of something” or “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations”. It is commonly used as a therapeutic technic.
I would love to let you in on a few resources that I’ve discovered:
The first is a CBT app called Moodnotes that is available in the Apple itunes store, unfortunately, it is only available for IOS.
The app works like this:
- First, you are encouraged to record your mood daily, or as often as you’d like, by swiping up or down.
- Then you are given the opportunity to describe what’s happening at the moment.
- The next step is to chose what positive and/or negative feelings you are experiencing that fit your current mood.
- Next, you are asked to analyze whether or not you have fallen into any “thinking traps” out of a list of various trap options.
- You are then given the opportunity to “rethink” your situation without traps.
- Finally, you are asked if you’d like to reassess your feelings.
Once you begin tracking on a regular basis, the app provides insights like your mood trends, mood over time and more! My favourite feature is the fact that you are able to export app data and email reports to your doctor, social work, or other mental health professional.
The app is a one time payment of $5.49USD and I am telling you that it is of great value!
The second resource that I have found is the Calm, that is available for both Android and IOS. If you follow the link, you will find several free things available with the site on the meditation and sleep stories page and I believe that you may even have access to the Calm Masterclass about ‘Breaking Bad Habits’ by psychiatrist and addictions expert Judson Brewer.
If you’d like even more, then you can subscribe to the Calm app for $59.99/yr USD, which translates to about $67CAD. I know that this might sound expensive for an app, but I have to say… I LOVE THIS APP!
It is packed with 100+ meditation practices, sounds, music, and sleep stories and their library is growing all the time. I use it as often as I remember to, which had been everyday, but now that I am going into the office everyday, I am finding that I don’t use it as much as I’d like to.. but I still get a ton of use out of it.
I have a number of favourite features within this app, including the ‘daily calm’, which is a guided meditation, the nature sounds, that I sometimes listen to all night long, and some select music, which is sometimes layered with nature sounds.
If I’ve got you curious, the app offers a 7-day free trial for you to download and explore. I absolutely suggest that you give it a try.
So if you find that you have trouble controlling unwanted behaviours or falling into “thought traps”, try out some of these resources. I can assure you that I have experienced them in their entirely and I stand behind everything that I have recommended in this post.