When speaking to clients, I often remind them that mental health is an important part of their overall health. This is reflected in the stats that are often found in popular media: that one in five individuals has a mental health condition. Many people find this especially true in the winter months, it can be common for individuals to experience increased depression and anxiety.

On January 30, people across Canada will be talking about mental health as part of the Bell Let’s Talk Day. In anticipation of this day, I recently had the opportunity to speak with April Anderson of AM800 to discuss Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and how we can each challenge our thoughts as a means of addressing challenging emotions.

You can listen to the conversation here, but I also wanted to provide you with three take aways from this conversation.

1. Acknowledge and identify your emotions in the moment

When you notice that you are having a strong emotion, like a feeling of anxiety or depression, it’s important to note it.  We all experience these emotions – they are normal – and acknowledging them can be a good opportunity to begin addressing these emotions.

2. Try to identify the associated thought

Whenever we experience strong emotions, it isn’t necessarily the situation that leads to our emotional response, but rather than kind of thoughts we have in the moment about the situation we find ourselves in. By taking a moment to examine these thoughts, we can often find important information that can help us better address the emotions we’re feeling.

3. Thoughts are not facts

Once you have identified the thought – treat it as a hypothesis.  Your hypothesis may be accurate, but it also may not be. Try to challenge your thought by looking at the evidence – both the evidence that could support and not support the thought. Once you see both sides of the equation, you can determine the accuracy of your thought in the moment and make an informed decision about how to address the thought.

Its important to remember that everyone has intense emotions, and that they are natural human experiences. If you’re struggling with strong emotions, anxiety or depression, it can be helpful to speak to someone about them. Reaching out is the first step in taking charge of your mental health.