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4 Self Help Techniques to a Healthier You

4 Self Help Techniques to a Healthier You

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Seeing a shrink is not always the most comfortable situation to be in. Many people hold social stigmas (irrational as they may be) against psychological treatment. For those of you who are trying to gain a better understanding of yourself, overcome irrational fears, or better control your behavior can give the following psychological techniques a shot. These exercises do not require the help of physician and can be done entirely on your own.

WARNING: This list is not intended to completely replace psychological treatment. If you feel that you have a serious issue that both distress and impairs you in your every day life, seeking professional psychological help is far better than attempting these "at home" techniques.

Free Association

Free association is a process by which the client speaks freely, saying whatever comes to mind. There is really not much need for a clinicians help in this process. If you find yourself distressed and/or impaired by inner conflict, try the following process:

Sit alone in a quiet, comfortable atmosphere.

Begin speaking aloud about anything and everything that is on your mind. Try to avoid pausing.

Let your thoughts flow freely, do not try and think about what you are saying, simply begin talking. After some time you will find yourself speaking in depth about the situation that is bothering you. This becomes therapeutic when your mind naturally begins telling you exactly what about the situation is causing you distress, and what you wish you could change.

It may help to tape record these sessions and/or write down important notes for later review.

Dream Analysis

Have you ever had a dream that you felt was trying to tell you something? Or perhaps the dream had a lasting effect on you throughout the day, either eerie and negative or exciting and inspiring. Many believe that dreams are actually caused by your mind trying to analyze and make sense out of important aspects of your life while you sleep. There is much evidence to this claim, and dream analysis can provide some valuable insights into your mind.

Get a notebook. It doesn't have to be a particularly special one, any one subject notebook will do.

Keep this notebook very close to your bed-side so that you can get at it without having to get out of bed.

Whenever you awake from a dream and it's details are still vividly in your conscious, grab the notebook and begin writing it out. Start at the beginning and write as much as you can remember. Try writing it as though it were story.

Re-read the dream throughout the day after you have fully waken up. Try to think long and hard about the aspects of the dream that stick out to you the most and make an attempt to relate important symbols to situations in your life. As an example, if you dream that you are fighting an adversary, yet your blows are weak and inflict no damage, it is thought that your mind feels that there is a conflict in which it has not yet figured out how to overcome. Similarly if you have the same dream a week later and now you're holding your own against the adversary, you may conclude that the decisions you are making are beginning to overcome the conflict in a successful manner.

If you are too confused by the symbolism, try looking at dream analysis websites online. Reputable ones can be very helpful.

Systematic Desensitization

Systematic Desensitization is very useful in treating irrational fears, for example, the fear of dogs.

Gather supplies relating to your fear in varying degrees. For example, pictures of animated dogs, pictures of real dogs, stuffed dogs, etc.

Sit in a chair and begin looking at the materials, starting with the least stressful and moving on to the most stressful ones. (In this case, the pictures of cartoon dogs would be least stressful.)

Try your best to maintain a good sense of your body's fear response as you move through the materials. As you begin to feel fear, pause on the material and begin breathing deeply. Focus on positive, relaxing thoughts and do your best to return to a calm state. You may even consider moving back to a less stressful material until you regain a relaxed state.

It is a good idea to stop the process for the day once you reach a stimulus (material) that is very upsetting. Throughout multiple sessions, you should find that you can progress to more and more stressful materials and control your fear response easier. Once you feel you have mastered this, you may want to enlist a friend's help to bring over the real deal (in this case a live dog) and see how much you can handle.

The important thing to remember is to take this process slowly and don't overdue it. Overdoing it may result in a panic attack, which is extremely undesirable. If done properly and slowly over a long span of time, you will notice a drastic decrease in your irrational fear.

Operant Condition

Operant conditioning is a great way to reinforce behavior that you wish to acquire. For example, if you find that you would like to stop exploding on your mother every time she hassles you, operant conditioning can help you reach that goal.

Determine what behavior you wish to acquire and practice (We will use the example of not screaming at your mother anymore.

Identify what circumstances trigger the unwanted behavior that you are trying to replace with the desired behavior. In this case, it would be every time your mother gives you a hard time.

Maintain a close monitor on your inner emotions that trigger the unwanted behavior. The next time your mother begins to yell at you, you should actually feel something inside you try and get you react in the traditional fashion of yelling back. Do your best to ignore these triggers and act in a calm, respectful manner.

Every time you perform the correct behavior, reinforce it with some kind of personal reward. Take yourself out for an ice cream sundae, or a cool new pair of jeans. Anything small, yet desirable will work great. When behavior is reinforced by positive and pleasurable rewards, the mind begins to associate that behavior with the reward, and the behavior becomes second nature.

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