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Conitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy which encourages individuals to reflect on their own positive and negative traits, in an effort to change one’s thoughts, feelings and reactions when a potentially stressful event occurs, under the assumption that the cues of stress cannot be avoided, pressure will always be present, but an individuals approach or reaction to it can be changed.  In effect the theory simply believes people can learn to not react to stressful cues as they otherwise might.
People need to have interests outside of work, to take their mind from the stresses of work and have things to look forward to at the end of the day.  Employees also need to have a sense of humour for when things go wrong.  A sense of humour is a very important self-defense mechanism.

Stress can become an illness when individuals cannot rationalize their problems, by going over them constantly in their head and also if they pretend everything is ok when it’s not.

It is important that employees feel a sense of achievement, feel important and valued, in order to develop their self-confidence, otherwise they can feel helpless.

An ability to be approachable and work as part of a team is essential to the health of the organisation as employees need to feel they can be open and share work if necessary with their team.  If stress becomes usual for employees, they will become cynical with other employees, stress catches on like a virus.  An indicator of this can be the general mood within the staff room.

People often don’t feel they can admit they are stressed, as people expect them to say they are fine.  Also, stress can catch on like a virus, so people may try to suppress because they believe that would be to the benefit of others.  However holding stress in is maladaptive, it is important that people share problems and work loads if they become unmanageable.  When individuals take everything on themselves their health and interests are forgotten about and this makes their work or stress the one thing or main thing they end up thinking about.  The stress can then make them cynical and insular.

Stress produces adrenalin, and anxiety is a result of stress.  Depression lowers serotonin, so people can loose the ability to be happy and may not respond to kindness.

A certain amount of stress is good, but past a point it becomes distress, at this point people need to rest and reflect.  If they fully burn out they can develop depression.  Many people have episodes of mild depression, but if it lasts for more than two weeks it could become clinical.

Stress can come about from having too many things to balance, with less time for life, tiredness, and perhaps minor illnesses and/or self-medicating.  It gets more serious when people then lose their sense of humour and become erratic and withdraw, short fuses can begin and individuals can become very anal or angry e.g. road rage.  If this continues the individual can stop caring, they become miserable, complain constantly and become rude, this is when stress has taken over as a disposition.

Stress is severe, it takes moments to produce but can take a long time to reduce, it causes physical symptoms, increased blood flow, headaches etc.

A way to counter stress is to gain an understanding of yourself, so that you can concentrate on your positive behaviour and imbed this into your reaction and to avoid the negative behaviour you may have.  Understanding yourself and your reactions as well as the reactions of others leads to assertiveness.  We are said to have a child part to us, with positives and negatives (e.g. open-minded, laughter, honest vs. blaming others, thinking things aren’t fair, selfish, impulsive, shyness), an adult side (the sort put on in meetings, serious, nod a lot, logical, sensible, not being totally open) and you have a parental side, with positives and negatives (caring, being a role model, morals, being able to accept things, wisdom vs. being controlling, aloof, snobby complaining, aggressive, being concerned with rank and status).  When in meetings or giving training etc. we should use these different parts i.e. not be in boring adult mode.  The state we are in changes with those around us, so can be very stimulus driven.

People can be seen as drains or radiators.  Radiators are often to always happy and positive and make people feel good.  Drains don’t smile, are miserable about things and try to make others feel the same.  Both are contagious.

Thoughts, feelings and behaviours can take a long time to change, they are imbedded habits we may not even be aware of.  It is important for us to look out for our own symptoms, as people are unlikely to say something to you, in case they offend you.  Negative thoughts need to be rationalized.

Men and women differ slightly, in that men say 4-5000 words a day on average, while women say 7-8000 words a day, and more of their brain is active when they speak.  So women may be better at sharing problems.

Assertive people will analyze themselves which will help them become more like radiators and able to deal with stress from other people.  People will do better id they learn to balance their child, adult and parental side, and know what they should be e.g. an adult should be respectful not rude, have empathy, not try to prove yourself to everyone or act in a certain way, in order to be more genuine.

If negative emotions are not stopped they will lead to stress and maybe a depressive illness.

I think that the early stages of stress can be seen in everyone, we all have stressful days, what needs to be noticed is if an individual is constantly like this or if it develops to more aggressive behaviours.

What do we do with this?  Maybe in Staff Forum, ask staff to write down things to make them reflect on how they react e.g. what makes you stressed and why?  How could you change your reaction to this?  List 3 positive traits you exhibit at work and list 3 negative traits.  What do you think you could change about your behaviour at work that would make you happier/less stressed?  What behaviours do you think others around you would like to see changed?  What two things will you try to do as a result of these questions?