Stephanie Papadakis, WellTheory Health Coach
You’ve come a long way since the beginning of this course! Even so, there may be times that all the tools in the world aren’t helping you feel calm or manage the challenges popping up in life. When we can’t get rid of the stressors of daily life, we have to learn to think about them in a different way. This is resilience: our ability to rise above and continue to function through the stressors of daily life.
In reframing, we are working to view stress through a different lens. For example, you may feel your heart pounding before a large work presentation. Rather than feeling the pressure of this event, reframe it by reminding yourself that this is a normal and even healthy stress response.
Your body is recognizing this is an important moment and it is rising to the occasion.
That small shift in how you think about this event can change not only your body’s physiological response, but also your own feelings about the event. Try it and see!
Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist who researches the effect of how we think about stress on the actual physiological outcomes of stress. If you can set aside 15 minutes, watch the TED Talk below! It’s amazing and will open your mind to a new way of thinking about stress. You could also listen to this on your car commute or take it with you on a quick walk!
To highlight a few of the most important points:
One important thing to note is that reframing doesn’t mean ignoring stressful situations or covering them up with a happy facade. It’s important to fully feel and acknowledge your emotions of stress. Your feelings are valid, no matter how happy or fortunate your life is. The goal here is to see stress through different lenses, not to sugarcoat it.
Take a few moments and think of the things that are most important to you in life. Now do your best to keep those at the front of your mind as you proceed throughout your day. Studies have shown that connecting your values to life events allows you to more effectively cope with stress.
Tend and Befriend
We all know about the fight or flight response, but do you know about the tend and befriend stress response? Rather than turning inward, finding ways to engage and support others in times of stress will guide your body in the direction of tend and befriend. The tend and befriend response releases oxytocin, gives us courage and supports social connection. It epitomizes the meaning of being human — that we support each other when life gets hard.
Welcome Stress as Wisdom.
Studies have found that those who experienced a moderate number of stressful life events actually had more positive mental health, better health outcomes, and greater overall well-being than those who had few stressful life events. What does this tell us? Just as time makes us wiser, so does our life experience.
Take a few moments to assess your list of obligations and priorities. For each of them, ask yourself, “How can I reframe this situation to help me see things with a new perspective?”
Here are a few examples:
“My body is broken” to “my body is healing.”
"My body hates me” to “my body is giving me feedback or information.”
“I can never feel better” to “I can actively work to feel better.”
“If I can’t do it perfectly, why should I do it?” to “progress is better than perfection.”
Commit to revisiting this exercise once each morning this week for 5 minutes. This will help set you up for success in noticing your thought patterns and reframing them in a more useful light. Reframing is a practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Select a day to schedule a free 15-minute call with a member of our Care Team.