healing foundations

Stress Management

Reframing Movement

Sybil Cooper, WellTheory Health Coach

What is Reframing?

Reframing is the practice of taking a negative thought and turning it into one with a positive outlook. Specially for our purposes, it would be reframing our movement mindset toward movement being easier and more enjoyable.

Below are few examples of what reframing can sound like:

"A little progress is better than no progress, and every bit counts” instead of “If I can’t do it perfectly, why even do it or try?”

"I have a full schedule, but I can add in small easy movement throughout my day” instead of “My schedule is too busy, I’ll never be able to work out.”

Reframing our mindset is another great tool for making movement easier and more enjoyable. It may take some time to learn and practice, but it can be worth the investment in building up that skill.

In the next sections we’ll dive deeper into the “how” so you can get started or continue your reframing skills!

How to Reframe

Being AWARE of current beliefs or mindset is the first step to reframing and shifting them. From there we can take step to reframe. Below are three steps to guide you in reframing.

1. Identify Current Beliefs or Mindset

  1. With a non-judgmental lens, notice your thoughts, feelings or experience around movement (or a specific type of movement), what is that you are feeling, thinking or wanting to express about that movement?
  2. Once you have a general observation, again without judgment, dig a little deeper if needed and notice, why is it you feel this way or are thinking those thoughts?
  3. (eg. If we dislike it, what EXACTLY is it that we dislike?)
  4. For example, you might say “I hate exercising.” But do you really hate all of it? Or are there certain aspects of you really dislike, such as getting sweaty, or feeling like exercise means going to the gym or workout class which is inconvenient. If you dislike it because it’s inconvenient and a chore to drive to the gym, great! Then you’ve identified that and can find a different movement option that is more convenient and does work for you!

2. Adjust it with a Positive Outlook

Take what was identified in step 1 and reframe it, or adjust it with a more positive outlook.

“I’ll never be able to run.” to “I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to run again, but I am going to start with walking and work toward it.”

One question that can be helpful in adjusting to a more positive outlook is: “Is that really true” or “What else could be true?” You don’t have to believe it, the idea is to loosen and open up options of other statements or beliefs could possibly be true. This can help us expand our perspective.

Now, we realize this is sometimes easier said then done, especially when so many of us are our worst critic and harshest on ourselves so, in the worksheet for the next activity we’ve included a few tips for you to reference.

Tips for Reframing

Below are a few tips to help reframe things in a positive light or outlook.

Tip #1: Think about and focus on what CAN you do?  “I can’t X, but I can Y.”

Yes, there are many things we all cannot do, but there are still many things that we CAN do.


  • I can’t play sports, but I can and do enjoy hiking.
  • I can’t get up early to move, but I can at lunch.
  • I don’t have access to a gym, but I can lift smaller weights at home.

Tip #2: Focus on a positive or enjoyable aspect of that thing or the desired outcome or goal.

It could occur during or even after moving, such as feeling less pain therefore getting to play with your kids, grandkids, or going on more adventures with less pain or even pain free!


  • Stretching: focused on how much less stiff and in pain my muscles will be later and how I’ll be able to play!
  • Walking: focused on how much I mentally feel better and clearer mind which allows me to be more attentive and present with my family.

Tip #3: Think of a friend, another person, or even a fictional character who is positive and sees the world from a glass half full perspective, what would they say?


  • “I think if (person x) were in this situation they would say ‘(fill in the blank)’.”

Tip #4: If you get stuck, ask someone else for different options on how they might reframe it.

Think about people (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc.) you know and could ask that you trust to provide non-judgmental and supportive feedback.

In the next activity, you’ll go ahead and try reframing!

Take Action: Reframing Your Movement Mindset

Handout: Reframing Your Movement Mindset

Now that you know a little more about reframing, its time to try it out yourself! It is one thing to know it, it is another thing to DO IT!

Remember, the intention here isn’t to do it “perfectly,” the intention is try it and see if you can take a baby step farther, whatever that looks like for you.

Below you can reframe one “easier” movement mindset and/or one “enjoyable” movement mindset. You are always welcome to do more on your own!

Tip: if you get stuck, on step 2 reframing, reference the material from this lesson with tips for reframing.

Easier Movement Mindset

1. What is your current belief or mindset around the difficulty or ease of doing movement in your day? Write out statement/belief #1.

2. How might you reframe it, or state it with a more positive outlook? Write out reframed statement/belief #1.

Enjoyable Movement Mindset

1. What is your current belief or mindset around movement being enjoyable? Write out statement/belief #1.

2. How might you reframe it, or state it with a more positive outlook? Reframed statement/belief #1.

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