Originally published in She Does The City, on January 30, 2019 by Dr. Khush Amaria
You’re on an overcrowded subway train. You’re totally packed in. At the next stop, people are pushing their way through to the door, and you get shoved pretty hard, feel really hot and a bit faint. You’re beyond stressed.
You worry this might happen again. Maybe you start avoiding the subway; maybe you switch to Uber. It’s not sustainable—you just don’t have the budget—so you work from home when you can.
How are thoughts, feelings and behaviours connected?
We often notice our feelings first. Feelings of anxiety can come from a desire for control, over our environment, over people, and it’s hard to feel in control when you’re packed like a sardine into a subway.
Your thoughts about taking the subway, such as “I’ll pass out if I ride it again” or “I can’t handle the crowds,” lead to feeling anxious. Feeling anxious leads to altering your behaviour—like finding a new way to get to work.
Our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all related. This is the core principle behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). If you can recognize and change your thinking about something that’s upsetting you, you can start to change how you feel about it and your behaviour toward it.
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that can help with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and a number of other mental health concerns. It’s most effective when guided by a qualified mental health professional who tailors your therapy to you and your progress. Unlike other forms of psychotherapy, CBT focuses on developing a skill set so that you learn healthier patterns of thinking.