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Mental Health Matters: CBT & the Hot Cross Bun Tool

As covered in That Nursery Life’s article Mental Health Matters: Is CBT Right for Me?, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on managing your mood by changing how you think.

A simple way to summarise the key aspects of CBT and apply them is through the Hot Cross Bun tool. Using this tool, you can examine how your own thoughts, feelings, physical reactions and behaviour are all interlinked. This can help you assess negative thoughts and behaviours and work out how to fix or improve them.

How it works:

Image by TNL

Your thoughts, behaviour, bodily sensations and emotions are often so intertwined that it’s difficult to be able to distinguish them from one another or be aware of all of them. Because of this, it’s also difficult to ascertain whether or not our actions are actually having a more negative effect on the situation that we might think.

Using this formula, however, can help you break down exactly what is happening at one specific point in time. In the case of anxiety, it can help to see what feelings and/or thoughts are exacerbating it and try to curb them. Our physical sensations, behaviour and how we think about ourselves all greatly impact how we feel. Therefore, changing one, two or even all three of these can significantly change our emotional state.

Image by TNL

Using this example, you could look at addressing different issues:

Behaviour

Lack of sleep is causing tiredness and irritability at work, distracting you from the tasks at hand. If more effort was put into maintaining a good sleep routine (e.g. being stricter with phone use before bed, reducing caffeine intake and using a sleep app to help drift off) you may start to feel better during the day and be able to focus on looking after your early years children more easily.

By dealing with the lack of sleep and reducing tiredness, your concentration, positivity and overall work performance will improve. This will increase your capability to get everything done, reducing the feelings of nausea and irritability.

Thoughts

If you feel like everyone else in work is coping apart from you, there are two possible scenarios. The first possibility is that they are coping with their work more than you are, in which case it is time to speak to your setting manager about what is happening to try and find a way to help. The second possibility is that your colleagues are all feeling the same way you are, in which case talking about it with your team will make both you and them feel better. Regardless of the outcome, addressing the problem is much better than suffering in silence. Sometimes just taking the action of talking about struggles can make you feel better, even if no definite solution is found.

By dealing with the negative thoughts and reducing your feeling of drowning or that you’re not as good as everyone else, you will be less distracted by those thoughts when trying to look after your little ones. If you have support from your manager or team, you will feel less frustrated through the day. This will lead to worrying less at night, allowing for easier sleep.

Photo by Ivan Oboleninov from Pexels

In summary:

While this is a simplified example and your situation may be vastly different, this technique can still be applied to help you identify how your behaviour or emotions are affecting your everyday life and help break the negative cycles you may find yourself in.