Stress

Rethink Your Thinking


Your thoughts can impact stress and well-being. It is possible to remove negative thoughts and restructure them to create more positive thinking and benefit your daily lifestyle. This is called cognitive restructuring.  It is the process by which irrational beliefs -- or cognitive distortions -- are examined and replaced with more rational and usually empowering thoughts.

 

Cognitive restructuring has benefits beyond the immediate situation you are dealing with. It reduces stress and improves your psychological resources and responses. As you practice cognitive restructuring, you may feel more empowered and a greater sense of control when dealing with challenging situations. Importantly, because of the mind and body connection, healthier thoughts can lead to a healthier you.

* Remember: YOU control your thoughts & emotions

 

Be on the lookout for

  • Cognitive distortions - overly simplistic, inflexible, negative habits of thinking that cause us more stress (Benson-Henry Institute, 2007). Try to become aware of how your thoughts and perceptions are affecting your experience of life.
 
  • Irrational ideas - outright misperception or perfectionist "should," “oughts”, and “musts.” Stray away from inaccurate self-talk and irrational ideas and replace them with realistic ones.
 
  • Worrying - Not all worry is negative. Unhealthy worry leads you to continually examine an endless list of all the potentially negative, catastrophic, “what if” outcomes of a situation. Healthy worry is focused on effective problem solving. You brainstorm alternative solutions, evaluate possible outcomes, make a decision, develop action steps, and form a timetable.

Apply cognitive restructuring to your life

  • Identify negative automatic thoughts - When you’re in a situation and your mind jumps to negative thoughts -- the first step is to identify the thought as negative.
  • Recognize the connection between your thoughts and feelings - How are the negative thoughts impacting your feelings?  Or how are your feelings impacting how you’re experiencing this situation? 
  • Identify the thoughts and attitudes that are distorted, exaggerated or illogical - Challenge these automatic thoughts.
  • Substitute more realistic and positive thoughts and beliefs,  which may reduce stress and negative feelings - By opening your mind to other ways of seeing a situation, you are also opening yourself to new options for addressing the challenges before you.
  • Forgive yourself when negative thoughts resurface - It’s natural that negative thoughts may pop-up during times of stress. Don’t get down on yourself. This is a learning process. Recognize yourself for catching the negative thought and return to the practice of re-thinking your thinking.

More About Rethinking Your Thinking

Websites:

MentalHelp.net - Cognitive Restructuring

MindTools.org - Stress Management - Cognitive Restructuring

Centersite.com - Cognitive Restructuring

Wikipedia - Cognitive Restructuring

About.com - Cognitive Restructuring Therapy