Cognitive Reappraisal: how you can reduce stress in your everyday life
Our ideas and experiences are the filter through which we interpret the world and ourselves. But is this filter always a good guide to live our lives? Challenging and reflecting on these ideas can lead us to a life of more compassion, ease, and spaciousness.
Behind the stressful feelings, there is a thought which may or may not be true after all. Once you begin the process of questioning the validity of this thought, you will realize that the stress caused to the brain and body begins to subside. This is the basic position of Cognitive reappraisal.
This practice leads us to change our way of being in the world. It is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, which prompts us to reframe a situation that stresses or worries us. Cognitive Reappraisal is essentially a way of dealing with stress but also a way of strengthening our resilience to it, by changing the filter through which we see and perceive the world. It ultimately helps us to open a door and live a life of new possibilities. What Cognitive Reappraisal ultimately calls us to do is to free our minds from what we think we know.
You only need 5 minutes to observe, change and readjust your thinking with Cognitive Reappraisal:
1. Close your eyes and allow your body to relax. Take a deep breath and let go of what you're carrying. Try to feel comfortable and at the same time alert, focused on the present.
2. Pick a thought that causes you anxiety and spend some time imagining yourself in a future stressful situation that this thought causes you. Notice yourself, where you are, who is around you and what is happening. Whatever you feel, let it go, don't try to change what's happening to you. Let the thoughts, feelings and everything else come and go.
3. Then think about the same situation from a different point of view. Think for example of someone close to you who might find this situation easy. How would he feel? How would he deal with her?
4. In this case, let your mind sink, allow yourself to imagine this future case experiencing it from another perspective. Notice how you feel in this situation.
5. When you feel ready, come back to the present. Open your eyes and notice from there on how your situation will be during the day. If you feel like you're still feeling anxious, try again to get into that different perspective, readjust your thinking with the same process.
The filter through which we perceive our social world is indeed useful as it allows us to deal with many situations as long as it is manageable. But when this causes more anxiety and stress, then cognitive reappraisal helps to redefine this filter so that it is actually helpful and manageable. Our life belongs to us and it is up to us to live it easily, effortlessly, with solidarity and love.
- iToocan Team
Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash