This post is the seventh in a series that accompanies each week in my book, Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks. Week 7 begins on page 186 in the print edition.

At the end of each chapter you’ve been taking stock and summarizing your most important take-aways. In this final stretch of the 7-week program, it’s time to pull together all the things you’ve done and build a plan for your ongoing work.

Back in Week 1 you invested significant time in identifying your needs. You considered various parts of your life—your physical health, your spiritual well-being, your relationships, etc.—and identified goals to work toward that would bring you a greater sense of well-being.

Each chapter in the book is designed to give you tools to help you move toward these goals. As such, you’ve been identifying the actions that will help you feel better and stay well.

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Weeks 3 and 4 address thought processes, while Weeks 2, 5, and 6 focus primarily on behaviors.

You can think of this final week as a time to identify what you’ll want to remember that will help you continue to recognize and meet your needs. This week you’ll be answering questions like:

  • What activities do I need to do to enjoy life and feel productive?
  • How can I recognize unhelpful thoughts?
  • What helps me to correct errors in my thinking?
  • Which strategies are most important for managing my time well?
  • When I’m tempted to run from my fears, what will encourage me to face them?

When you have a solid plan for continuing this work, you’ll be making your thoughts, actions, and feelings work in concert to your advantage. “Integrating” everything from the past 6 weeks makes me think of the related word integrity, which has two meanings: One refers to being honest and moral, while the other is about being sound or complete. A building with structural integrity can withstand a hurricane or an earthquake—it doesn’t fall apart.

In the same way, a strong plan for physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness gives us a kind of integrity so we don’t “fall apart” when we face major tests. Our structure holds, and we come through the storm.

With that idea in mind, I don’t think of this 7-week plan as just a way to manage anxiety and depression. Consistently using the tools we need to prioritize our health can allow us to move beyond “not feeling bad,” toward being the person we want to be. There’s no need to impose an unnecessarily low ceiling on our own experience.

As I was preparing to write this week’s post I had a nice opportunity to discuss my book with Dr. Suzanne Phillips on her Internet radio show, “Psych Up Live.” I really enjoyed our conversation, which covers a lot of the book. You can listen to it on the VoiceAmerica website (or download to iTunes).

I wish you all the best for Week 7 as you continue to move toward your goals. I’m pulling for you.

I’ll post the next and final installment in this series on December 19, 2016. 

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