The Fit Student – Monkey Mind at Work and School

Did you ever fight a terrifying setback?

I did. I reached the end of my work-life because of daily seven-hour panic attacks. After my work contract ended, I continued having those seven-hour panic attacks every three days.

I trembled. I feared misplacing my wallet. I spaced out when someone spoke to me. And this happened for years. Like having your brain bubble in flames. Only worse.

But I kept my hope. I read book-after-book on anxiety until I discovered a solution: self-talk, otherwise known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Psychologists tend to agree: CBT is the most effective form of anxiety management.

For me meditation didn’t work. Neither did muscle relaxation, medication, or psychiatric consultations. Just self-talk. Self-talk stopped me from experiencing panic and anxiety for over-a-year-and-counting. I’ve re-entered the regular workforce?four days prior to writing this article. Yikes!

Congratulations, right? Well, now I need to ensure I don’t spiral back into workplace anxiety. And I think I found the solution: a book?CBT at Work for Dummies by Gill Garratt. Yes, self-talk.

It helped me, and so, in the Fit Student, I’m going to give tricks for applying CBT to your student life. Below, Gill Garratt’s CBT advice shines in bold. My student life parallels follow:

Everyone experiences negative feelings associated with work. Similarly, students experience negative feelings associated with student life, from conflicts with instructors to struggles with exams. How do you shut off negative emotions? Use CBT to control anger, depression, anxiety, panic, frustration, and low self-esteem. CBT helps you achieve a calm mind.

Fight irrational thoughts at work to stop fear and negativity from consuming you. If you feel anxiety overwhelm you prior to an exam, stop and consider. Tell yourself you don’t want to feel anxious. Credit yourself for exam preparation you did do. Then reassure yourself: even if your grade sucks, you may not like it, but you have the ability to deal with it. That’s CBT!

Only you are responsible for your emotional well-being, according to CBT. don’t blame Mom and Dad for your anger or anxiety with your school performance. You hold the key to your emotional well-being. So, if your emotions cause you hardship, fix them. CBT can help you do so.

You are never helpless. You always have choices?even if they all suck. If you feel you have no choice but to drop out of school, reconsider. You always have choices. If you feel stuck in a course you despise, know that you have choices: continue, withdraw, pay for extensions, and so on.

Take note of your emotional triggers with the ABC Model; in the ABC model, A stands for activating event, B for belief or thinking, and C for emotional consequence. To illustrate, if you believe that people should express appreciation for your high grades (belief), and a professor criticizes your essay (activating event) you may feel angry or anxious (emotional consequence). CBT teaches you to rationalize your negative emotions so they don’t consume you. After all, life isn’t fair. Accept this.

don’t ignore the negative emotions. Address them before they consume you. If you feel stressed or embarrassed or angry or guilty?any negative emotion?don’t ignore your feelings. Rationalize them. Say to yourself, I don’t want to feel embarrassed. I got a C-, and I feel ashamed and unhappy. But I can always ask my prof for advice on how to improve my grade or request an extra project for bonus marks. Even if I am stuck with this grade, I know I have the ability to cope.

So, we’ve just touched on the basics of CBT. I will reveal more of CBT’s framework in the next several articles.

Why? Because CBT can help you stay calm during even hurricane season. And like learning a language, CBT gets easier with practice. So, stay calm—study with CBT self-talk.

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