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Financial Stress

Readers Respond: Cognitive Reframing Techniques That Work

Responses: 18


Updated February 15, 2010

Cognitive reframing--the wonderful practice of looking at things in a more positive light in order to experience them as less stressful--is a simple and effective stress reliever. And there are unlimited opportunities to practice cognitive reframing to maintain a more optimistic world view. Sometimes it helps to see how others can take lemons and make lemonade; sometimes it's nice to get a pat on the back for a brilliant example of cognitive reframing you've used in your own. Either way, I invite you to share your best examples of cognitive reframing in your own life, and get inspired by the stories of others.

Be a Friend to Yourself.

Whenever I've had a particularly bad day I find some time to be alone at the end of the day and I talk to myself. I speak as if I just listened to a friend tell me about their bad day. I say things like "Don't worry, tomorrow will be better. Next week you'll look back and laugh on this. It'll be okay. What matters is that you're healthy." etc. It works! We wouldn't speak negatively to our friends so why do it to ourselves?
—Guest Sarah


I recently bought a little "BELIEVE" sign. When I start to think that I can't do something or something is just to hard to do I look at this sign. This has become a sign for me to believe in myself and that I do have the ability to do whatever I choose! I recently purchased one for my sister for her 50th birthday as well. We all need to believe in ourselves, the rest will fall into place, just as it is supposed to.
—Guest Michele


Today I was feeling low as my relationship of 22yrs. ended a few months ago, so I decided to go out for a walk in nature and all was right with the world when I got back! :)

Do Something Differently

At my lowest point in 2009 I took a class on Anxiety through health insurance. The most profound phrase I learned to combat intense anxiety is "Do Something Differently" at the very moment I'm feeling anxiety. I learned that anxiety is usually from the same negative thinking over and over "renumerating" which triggers the same behavior patterns; i.e. no matter how small I tried to enjoy myself while money is tight I tended to obssess about enjoying myself so I became very conscious of my "inner dialog": I "shouldn't" be buything this ice cream or plants for my yard. Then I would catch myself being very anxious and remind myself of the phrase I learned in my class DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY so I would take some deep breaths, close my eyes and change my thinking to "I deserve this moment", and I am not going to go broke from it. It was hard for a few months. But after daily journaling and working on my inner dialog it became much easier. The phrase is on my cell phone for me to see!
—Guest Pamela

Dig in dirt!

Working in the garden can be such a physical and emotional booster! I can well remember when my mother heard the news that she had cancer. We all were in shock and very scared. Since it was early spring at the time, I came over to my parents house with potting soil, seed starting trays and plenty of vegetable and flower seeds. We had spent the evening planting our seeds in small growing trays. The positive effect on my mother was miraculous! Planting seeds, watching plants grow also creates such genuine optimism. You don't even need a big space to grow a garden...any little patch (or growing pot) will do. When I feel overwhelmed or exhausted by something stressful, working in my garden is so restorative!
—Guest Kacy

Being Here

Sometimes when things get stressful, at home or at work, I take a 2 minute time out to sit and close my eyes and take a few deep breaths or step outside if it's nice. Meditation keeps me sane, and even if I don't have any time to stop and meditate, I make a conscious effort to be here, just be present in whatever task I'm doing at the time. It's easier said than done, but that's why they call it "meditation practice."
—Guest Jan in RI

Nothing is Worse Than Losing a Child

Eighteen years ago, our older son died in a car accident at the age of 19. When things start to get crazy, I remind myself that nothing is as bad as the day the coroner showed up at my doorstep.
—Guest Elizabeth

Running a Marathon Makes You Feel Strong

There has never been a more touching moment in my life than when I finished my 1st marathon in Houston, TX, at age 17. It captivated me by looking at all 6 of my family members fawning at the jaw when I completed that 26th mile, in contrast to my mother, who felt nothing new. She was confident I could go the distance. Following my head injury at 9 and seizures meds. made this astounding to brothers and sisters, but not to her. My mom and I used to go to the track and she knew that I had the tenacity to finish. I picked up on some tips from listening to this man from Kenya, who won the Boston Marathon in '89, on how to train 6 months in advance and eat certain foods. And his routine on running those 26 miles made my family go into that state of shock. But my mother just thought it was another lap around the track.
—Guest Ashton Bishop

A Walk in the Woods

A few years ago, I experienced major stress is my life. Feelings of dread over my job and some of the people I worked with left me drained, overwhelmed and full of anxiety. Most days I couldn't shake it off and brought it home with me. One day I decided to go for a walk in the woods next to my house. The quietness, swaying of the trees, being alone to drink in the beauty of the woods, awakened a flood of graditude for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowing He is with me always and wanting the best for me, flooded my soul and gave me the reassurance that I'm loved no matter what. Over time, I have a much better attitude even though I am still working at the same job with the same people. I go to the woods every chance I get to pray and give thanks. What a wonderful feeling of being safe and secure in the arms of Jesus.
—Guest Sandy

Glass is Half Full

One of my closest friends had an absolutely horrible day and recounted it: car broke down, unexpected bill came in the mail, she was forced to wait at an event that was cancelled. To me, it would have been a day from hell. Yet, she looked on the bright side and clung to the few positives that occurred. Then I realized that a lot of life is just how you perceive it. I like to read novels and non-fiction because you can see how other people's lives get messed up and how they deal with it...which makes my problems seem solvable. Reaching out to other people or learning about problem situations are healthy responses to bad times.
—Guest Lila

Wind in My Face

When the weather permits I grab my helmet and ride my bike! I let the wind hit my face! I feel free and strong. I feel like I did when I was a teenager (I'm 48). When that doesn't work, I resort to my blue wig and red lipstick and just hang out in the house. I forget I have it on and it really gives me a laugh all day as I walk pass the mirrors...LOL..


Several people, including Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, have written about the benefits of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what's going wrong, we can focus on what's going right. A friend of mine was complaining that nothing went right one day. I said, "You have to look at things correctly. Lots of things went right. Can you walk? Can you see? Do you have a roof over your head?, etc." She answered yes and then thanked me for giving her "a gift." We all have so much to be grateful for and by concentrating on the daily miracles in our lives, we will have the strength to get through stressful times.

The Other Side

I find that relationships can be really challenging at times and cause a lot of stress and drama. I really have had good success with trying to reframe by trying to see things from other person's perspective and trying to understand why the person is doing what they're doing (which needs they are trying to fulfill) instead of just assuming that they are trying to do something "bad" or "evil".
—Guest Elmarie

Learning to Reteach a Disabled Teen

My daughter at 18 years old developed a seizure disorder that turned her back into a child of about 2 years old. I had to reteach her everything. I had to potty train her, teach her to care for herself and even how to feed herself. Everything. She had to learn to behave properly in public and at home. I had to retrain myself to turn the negative behavior of hers to a positive. And correct her using positives instead of negative. This was a major challenge. It took over a year of hard work on both of our parts. She is now as close to normal as you or me. (From Elizabeth: That is indeed a major, MAJOR challenge, and truly amazing that you've come through it and only a year later she is back to normal. It sounds like you've become stronger and wiser from the experience, too. Thank you so much for sharing your triumph with us.)

Look for the Lesson

When I face challenges in my life, I always ask myself, 'What's the lesson here?' Once I 'get' the lesson and learn from it, I don't find myself facing the same stresses over and over anymore. (Then it becomes something new, haha!) But this allows me to look at things not as stressful, but as helpful.
—Guest Kelly

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