CBT and Getting through January

How a CBT Therapist Uses Cost-Benefit Analysis

Now that Xmas is over, and people are struggling with New Year diets and other depriving resolutions, you may not feel at your jolliest, but CBT can help you. Your next break is likely at Easter with the nights still drawing in very early and the wintry weather, January can seem a bit of a struggle. You might feel anxious and possibly depressed, and CBT is the recommend evidence-based therapy to deal with these mental health problems.

However, most of us get on with it, looking forward to increasing light and pleasant plans later in the year.  But what if that’s not working for you?

Winter blues

Many people feel a bit down at this time of year.  We may have spent more than we intended at Xmas and the sales and be paying for it now.  A lot of people are paid early in December so that they have money before Xmas, so January seems a very long month before payday comes. Finance trouble is a known cause of stress and anxiety in CBT Therapy.

On top of that, the days seem to be over by around 4 pm or 5 pm, and some people feel low with a smaller dose of natural sunlight than we get the rest of the year.  If you feel this way, try natural daylight bulbs and see if it helps.  If you suffer badly, it may be worth asking your GP for further help or see a CBT Therapist experienced in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which can be what you are suffering from.

Xmas rows

Expectations can be unrealistically high for Xmas, so things can seem worse afterwards than they are.  Family rows can often explode over Xmas, so if there was more Xmas tension than cheer, you might still be dealing with the aftermath.  Perhaps you’re not speaking to someone in your family, or two other members of the family are not talking to one another. CBT is a talking therapy, and one element is to improve the way you and your partner or family communicate.

CBT, among other areas, recommends you try to think about the root of the row.  There are only two ways to deal with difficulties in CBT – problem-solving and adjusting our attitudes.  If there is a difference between two people, CBT recommends thinking about solutions that might satisfy each one.  Or maybe one person (perhaps you) needs to learn to accept that some things will not change and to find a way to live with them.

Making up

After rows, people often care very little about the actual issues but have had their feelings hurt.  Feelings are a core element in CBT together with thoughts and behaviour. Genuine apologies can go a long way to soothing ruffled feathers.  Try just saying sorry for what you did (or asking the other person to do so) and acknowledge the hurt that has been caused.

Preventing future rows

While it’s unrealistic to expect never to argue with other people (we all have different views and wishes), according to CBT it is possible not to have full-blown rows.  The best way to avoid future family major blow-ups is to deal with issues as they arise.  As disagreements occur, try to spend time later when you are calm thinking around possible solutions. CBT instructs to take your counterpart’s perspective if possible. Suggest them to the other person/people and try to discuss the pros and cons for everyone.

And if you really can’t stand being around certain people, you may need to plan in future to spend less time with them.  In some countries, a significant number of divorces are filed for between Xmas and Valentine’s Day as couples have struggled through Xmas “for the family” but cannot bear pretending for the traditional lovers’ day.  This is the end of the spectrum, but it may be that this is a good investment to talk to a CBT Therapist who can help you (and your partner) address your problems so that you don’t have to get to this end unless it’s necessary.

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