#0009 — You have to practice

It makes all the difference.

I usually write about a different mental health exercise each week. This week I want to write about why recurring practice of these exercises is so important.

🛑 Problem

Happiness is a skill that has to be actively practiced. You can read all the self-help content in the world but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do the work.

Imagine that you wanted to lose weight. You can’t lose weight by only reading diet books. You lose weight by eating right and exercising, everyday, for a long time.

✅ Solution

Do mental health exercises, repeatedly, over the longterm.

🔎 Why practice matters

Therapists assign “homework” for clients to practice at home because it improves mental health outcomes.

A 2010 study determined that people who did homework as part of their therapy reported better outcomes than 70% of those who did not do homework as part of their therapy.

Another study [pdf] found a correlation between homework compliance and treatment outcomes. The people who completed their homework assignments saw “significant positive effects on therapy outcome”.

There’s 168 hours in a week. Most people in therapy only see their therapist for 1 hour per week. Is an hour (or less) of therapeutic work enough to create change during the other 167 hours in a week?

✍️ Try now

Consuming self-help content isn’t enough, you gotta actually practice.

Here’s a couple exercises you can do right now:

And if you’re worried about not being able to make these exercises into a repeatable habit then I recommend you read about identity based habits.

🌆 Conclusion

A trick that political campaigns do to increase voter turnout is to ask voters about their specific plans to vote on election day. “Do you know where your polling place is? What time will you get there? Are you going to walk or drive to the polls?”

So I’ll ask you the same: Which mental health exercise do you wanna try? What time do you want to practice each day? Where will you practice it? Are you going to use a pen and paper or a mobile app?

📖 Read more

Homework in psychotherapy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homework_in_psychotherapy

How therapists think about homework: https://www.goodtherapy.org/for-professionals/software-technology/practice-management/article/assigning-homework-in-cognitive-behavioral-therapy

How much does homework matter: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cbt-and-me/201704/how-much-does-homework-matter

📱 Practice more

Download Bold CBT. It’s an iOS app that I made with a lot of mental health exercises like this.

🙏 Thank you

I’m grateful that you read this far! Please send me an email to tell me what you think. Your feedback makes the newsletter better for everyone.

  • john@boldCBT.com

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