The audio-tracks in Feeling Good are centred around Positive Mental Training
Our research in the NHS shows that this can help recovery from anxiety & depression, helping you let go of worries, cope better with stress, and sleep better.
Positive Mental Training is a skills training programme that uses understanding of the workings of the mind to maximise our achievement of our goals. This evidence-based programme incorporates a number of proven techniques for Feeling Good.
Visualisation & goal-setting
One of the ways that athletes prepare themselves to perform well is to visualise their moves, setting a goal for themselves and visualising a successful outcome. For example, top skiers experience how their bodies feel moving down a black-level slope; tennis players experience how it feels doing an ace serve; and climbers experience how each move feels as they move up a rock face to the peak. When we visualise a performance in our minds, we are also experiencing how it feels in our bodies, physically and emotionally. Through Positive Mental Training, we can learn to apply these same techniques to visualise successfully achieving our everyday goals, be it for work, socialising, or relaxing at home.
Relaxation: The Body Shifts the Mind
Research shows that when our body is relaxed, our mind is relaxed also (not the other way around - like we mostly expect!). All of the audio tracks focus on relaxing the body along with slow, deep breathing. Relaxing in this way changes the physiological balance of our bodies (the autonomic nervous system) boosting our safety-based ‘rest and relate’ (parasympathetic) nervous system, which automatically switches off our threat-based ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic) nervous activation. Our relaxed body lets our minds know that everything is OK, and this allows our minds to step back from our negative thoughts and feelings, and to safely review and change these for the better. We call this the ‘body shift’. See our animation.
Positive Mental Training is based on the principles of Positive Psychology. This is about building on the positives in your life, recognising and focusing on what makes you happy and harnessing the best of yourself to feel fulfilled in life, helping to visualise yourself sorting out your current challenges. The audio tracks contain positive words and ideas that prime us to think positively about ourselves and our lives. Practising the Positive Mental Training techniques in the Feeling Good app can build your ability to feel a grounded sense of self-fulfilment, which is the true source of happiness and wellbeing.
Resilience and Self-Determination
Everyone experiences setbacks, but Olympic Athletes are brilliant at recovering from these and bouncing back, seeing the opportunity to learn and become better (they wouldn’t be in the Olympics if they didn’t!). This ability to bounce ‘forwards’ is the definition of resilience and the key to mental strength. Research shows that rising to life’s challenges makes us more resilient in the future. The more we practise changing our mindset, the better we become at rising to life’s challenges and this is a skill the app facilitates! Self-determination is the real key to wellbeing. The Positive Mental Training tracks have been shown to build the three core components of self-determination: autonomy: the feeling that you are not helpless but can act to change your destiny; competence: the feeling that you have the skills to change your life; and relatedness: the feeling of positive connection to those around you. By boosting positive feelings about your life in these 3 key areas, the Feeling Good app can build mental strength and help you become stronger from life’s ups and downs.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is based on the concept that thoughts, behaviour and feelings are interlinked. Traditionally CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts to alter mood and behaviour.
Positive Mental Training, instead, focuses on feelings, using positive feelings, to change thoughts and behaviour. We think of this as upstream CBT (uCBT) as we are focusing on the causes of negative thoughts. Neuroscience has shown that feelings drive thoughts and behaviours (not the other way round!). Positive Mental Training helps any negative feelings & memories by changing these, through integration, into a positive resource, generating positive feelings. This core technique can, over time and with practice, build mental strength and an enduring positive mindset.
To further understand the techniques in the audios, in particular the Feeling good for Life module, and how to use strategies, such as self-reflection, linked to CBT competencies, to aid self-awareness, understanding and self-development - see here.
Mindfulness is meditation that involves stilling the mind and body through focusing on the present moment. This involves acknowledging and accepting the experience of the moment, feelings and thoughts, bringing increased calm to the body and mind. This technique develops with practice. Feeling Good develops mindfulness through relaxation practice, although it is more structured and easier to engage with. Many people find that mindfulness mediation is easier to do after they have used the Feeling Good app.
How do I start?
Find a place you can make yourself comfortable and play the first track of your chosen programme. Follow the spoken instructions which will help you develop deep physical relaxation. Research has shown that there is considerable benefit after 4 weeks.
Feeling Good programmes consist of short tracks which are ideally listened to 5 times a week. Just in the way we repeat the same physical exercises to train our body, so by listening repetitively we can train our mind to think in a more positive way.
Make a routine
It does not matter when you listen, but it can be easier if you make it a habit by listening at a fixed time every day. To have the most impact, it is necessary to listen regularly. The tracks have been designed to build on each other so are best listened to in sequence.
It is important to start listening with the intention of persisting to the end of your chosen programme, this way you can get the most out of it. With regular practice your mind will become familiar with the mental skills and techniques which, in future situations, can be utilised without conscious thought.