Mind for Life

By Roberta Smith
Counsellor, Mind For Life
Proven techniques to help improve your response to stress in your daily life
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT, can help you to cope with stressful situations such as when studying for your exams through effective coping strategies
Cognitive restructuring or reframing
This technique involves changing negative thought patterns. Perhaps you take a pessimistic outlook whilst studying, such as becoming fearful that you are not taking in the information effectively, for example. Try focusing on what you are doing well in and be mindful of unhelpful thought patterns such as ‘I’m never going to remember all of this information’. Rephrase this thought with a positive comment about yourself such as ‘I don’t remember much on this topic but I can recall a lot of information about the human body’

Guided Discovery

Therapists tend to encourage patients to see the problem from a different perspective, such as, how would a child view this scenario? Try challenging your own viewpoint on a problem you may have, and provide evidence of why you have this perception.This can help you become aware of your feelings and the underlying reasons for your behaviour.
Exposure therapy

Have you ever heard of people undergoing therapy to overcome a fear of spiders (arachnophobia)? It is more common than you think. Sometimes the only way to overcome a fear you have is to be vulnerable and expose yourself to it. If your fear is compulsory gym classes at school, why not try joining a school sports team, so that you become more confident engaging in exercise at school?

Think of some of your own fears – How could YOU overcome them?

Journaling and thought records
Some people find it therapeutic to write down their worries into a journal entry. It enables you to accept your thoughts and feelings as your own. Reading back over your journal can also help you understand why you feel the way you do, as well as your behaviour and reactions to certain situations. It can also be helpful in assisting you to visualise an alternate solution or approach you could try in the future. It can also help you see how far you have come since you began writing about your thoughts and feelings.
Activity scheduling and behaviour activation

Record your daily studying activities, daily hobbies or interests that you engage in. I recommend devising a weekly chart to allocate the appropriate time to study each module or subject area. This will ensure that you assign enough time to study each topic.

Having a structured schedule encourages good habits of organisation and prevents you from putting off tasks that you find overwhelming. If you have scheduled it in your calendar, it will be harder to distract yourself from completing it.

Helpful hint: Have a checklist for topics you will study on each particular day. Ticking off subjects you have studied also makes you feel good about yourself.

By incorporating these effective CBT techniques into your daily life, it will help change your negative thoughts and behaviors to provide you with positive and beneficial solutions!
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