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Reducing Stress: Cognitive Patterns and Behaviors Changing Essay

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Updated: May 28th, 2020

Stress consists of various physical processes encountered by the body under certain situations. Such physical processes are not only hard to control, but also happen automatically. Stress is a combination of physical and mental processes. Stress levels differ from one individual to another with persons predisposed to mental illness and anxiety affected the most. Given that stress is so prevalent among us today, it is important to explore the various techniques available for stress reduction. The essay is an attempt to examine how we may reduce stress by changing such cognitive patterns as negative thought processes, as well as by changing behaviors that creates or exacerbates stress.

Reducing stress by changing cognitive patterns

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the behavioral techniques used in managing stress. CBT rests on the premise that stress comes about due to our feelings about life events, and our reaction to them (University of Maryland Medical Center para. 2). As such, CBT dispels the notion that stress is caused by life events. For example, when faced with a given situation, it is our perception of potential danger that dictates our level of stress, as opposed to the actual threat of danger. As such, CBT integrates reasoning, perception, and learning with behavior (University of Maryland Medical Center para. 5).

When caught in traffic, my mind wonders to the time lost and how I may never recover it. As a result, I start my day with negative thoughts. On the other hand, there are individuals who choose to view the positive side of a traffic jam. This is the time for them to relax and listen to music. Consequently, they emerge out of this situation a happy lot. In the same way, negative self talk shapes our experiences and can either trigger a calm demeanor or a calm response.

Negative self talk may trigger stress. It is important therefore to identify negative thinking. For example, I have been doing a self assessment on my negative thinking pattern and have realised that I tend to filter out the positive aspects of a situation at hand and instead magnify the negative aspects. There are times when relaxing at home after a hard day at work, I find myself trying to recall how I had accomplished the entire task within the stipulated deadlines. Sometimes I even recall the compliments of my superiors for a through and speedy job. However, in case I forgot one minor step, suddenly all the good deeds of the day no longer matter.

Another example of my negative thinking pattern is my penchant for catastrophizing things that go wrong in my life. For instance, if the drive-through coffee shop happens to get my order wrong on my way to work in the morning, I get the feeling that the rest of my day will be total chaos just because of this one single event. I also have the tendency to personalize things or events so that in case anything bad happens, I end up blaming myself for the unfolding events. For example, in case I am involved in a minor car collision on the road and all the signs indicate that the other driver is at fault, I blame myself for not having been more careful with my driving.

One way of reducing stress is by changing the aforementioned negative processes and instead, to focus on positive thinking (Mayo Clinic Staff para. 3). Positive thinking entails creating a habit of behaving and thinking in a more optimistic and positive way. To start with, I need to identify the areas to change. In this case, I have identified my daily commute, work and relationships as some of the areas that I need to work on. When stuck in traffic on my way to work, instead of whining about the lost time, I should see this as a chance for me to relax while listening to soothing music. Another strategy is to banish the negative thoughts is to stop and evaluate my thoughts throughout the day (Mayo Clinic Staff para. 5).

In case I discover that my thoughts are negative, I should find a way to accentuate the positive thoughts, at the expense of the negative ones. A good sense of humor helps to relieve stress, especially when times are hard. Smiling and laughing makes one feel less stressed. I should also form the habit of practicing positive self-talk. For instance, when faced with a new task, instead of thinking that I have never done it before I should see it as a chance to learn a new thing. Even when a task appears too radical to change, I should not fear to take a chance.

Stress is a combination of physical and mental processes that happens automatically, and at times, may be too hard to control. Negative thought processes tends to worsen stress. One of the strategies used to reduce stress is changing the cognitive patterns and behaviors that either creates or exacerbates stress. To do so, it is important to an individual needs to first identify the areas that they need to identify. Once this is done, it is important to replace the negative thought patterns with positive thinking. In other words, we should form the habit of accentuating positive thoughts. We should also form the habit of practicing positive self-talk. Finally, we should not expect instant results because behaviors are not learnt overnight.

Works Cited

Mayo Clinic Staff. . Mayo Clinic, 2011. Web.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Stress- Lifestyle Changes. University of Maryland Medical Center Website, 2011. Web.

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