I have written in a previous blog about relapse prevention plans. Once a person is feeling better, no longer unduly anxious or clinically depressed, it is important to look at ways of keeping well. This can include how to respond if the anxiety re-emerges or the mood dips again, but hopefully we can go further than this and consider what for us constitutes living well.
The people I have seen for CBT often find it helpful in the latter stages of therapy, and sometimes as an integral part of therapy, to consider what their values are so that they can make wise choices in keeping with their values. Commonly the aspects of our life we might consider when exploring values would be:
- Family relations
- Intimate/romantic relations
- Education/training/personal growth
- Physical wellbeing
(Psychology Tools do a useful worksheet for this which you can download if you are interested).
Emotional well-being is missing from the list because the idea is that if you use your values as a guide to how you behave in these areas then you are naturally attending to your emotional well-being. This one of the premises of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which is a close cousin of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and comes under the same umbrella of the Behavioural Therapies.
When I talk to people about their values in these areas of their lives a strong theme which emerges is one of wanting to feel connected. To feel connected to others, nature, to beauty, to oneself. When we avoid difficulties in relationships we may think we are doing so in order to stay connected, but the effect is often disconnection. Having difficult conversations is hard but often ultimately rewarding, and can deepen our connection with others. Finding the time to get out into nature can seem like something to fit in once we have completed all our tasks, i.e. rarely, but when we do it the connection with the wind, seeing the trees, the crunch of leaves underfoot is replenishing. Appreciating the aesthetic of the things around us such as architecture, a picture, a mug, a slim device, connects us with beauty.
These things, and more, allow us to feel connected with ourselves in some way, allow us to have a life of richness rather than a life of fullness.