I want to show you a little creative project I spend a day making for myself.
I call it "My Little Book of Therapy" and I go to it when I feel anxious, to remember the exercises I can do help with that. At the beginning of mastering a new mental tool, it's difficult to recall in the situations (especially when you're distressed and can't think as rationally). It's good to have something easily at hand to remind you.
I tried to make it very visual by adding models and cute drawings that make me smile, as that gives it less of a 'textbook' feel. It's my personal book, and I curated everything based on my situation.
And yeah. Most of it is in Danish. Which I guess could subtract from how helpful you find this post. Sorry.
But this can still encourage you to make your own book in whatever language you prefer (if Klingon or Dothraki is your thing, then good luck).
Often times I find it really hard to put what I'm feeling into words. I find using words from this wheel as the starting point of a journal entry to be really helpful.
My emotions and urges are like ocean waves. They crash and flood, they settle and they can be calm. Low tide always return.
I want to highlight the exercise from these two pages, as it's really one that's helped me and that I refer to frequently.
This is going to be a translation of danish from a translation of english, so I hope the original meaning remains.
- Observe: Focus on your breating. Then on what you're feeling inside. Expand to the outside, what you're doing.
- Willingness: Are you willing to do something that's important to you, even if it's uncomfortable? If yes, allow the distress to take up space. Notice it. Breathe around it. Make space for it.
- Live by your values: Think about the kind of qualities you want to display at the moment. Is it discipline, kindness, perserverance, love?
This helps me find a balance between working and resting. Instead of asking myself what I want to do, I ask myself what I'm willing to do. Because you (well, at least me) rarely want to spend hours studying, cleaning, cooking and so on – but you're willing to do it because it's necessary or important to the life you want to live.
The values I want to display are both perserverance and self-care. Which one I choose in a given situation varies, but not studying is never failure because it means I'm practising self-care – and that's important too!
These are the most important principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT. My therapist made me aware of this branch of therapy during our last sections, and it's something I've been reading up on since, as it really makes sense to me. A lot of the drawings and text snippets are from a the book The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, which is a good introduction to ACT.
I also have a little section on intuitive eating and emotional eating. The last one is a bit of a problem for me, as food sort of has become my go-to for coping with my chronic pain and anxiety. That's something I'd like to get better at handling, but its section in the book is still small.
I'd also like to expand the book with coping tools for chronic pain. I've read ACT can be used for this too, but I've not yet found a ressource that apply it in detail. That'll be the next step in this project!
If anyone is interested, I'm willing to spend a little time digging up the links to the individual drawings, so you can add them to your own therapy book.
What's an important reminder you'd add to a book like this?
Note: I originally posted this a few days, but it was acting weird so I had to repost it.