With Oregon state government planning to reopen its buildings to the public this September, the positivity project is focusing its July and August messages on physiological and cognitive stress management techniques. The focus for July was on physiological techniques, or body work, that can help reset our bodies to better cope with stress and anxiety. Visit the positivity project website if you missed part one in July. The focus for August is on cognitive techniques. These techniques will have us examine our thoughts and behaviors as a way to better manage our stress. We will look at guided imagery, a mental tool that affects our ability to self soothe, and cognitive reframing, a technique that can help us reframe how we think about something.
Guided imagery is a method for managing your stress. It’s a relaxation technique that involves visualizing positive, peaceful settings like a beautiful beach or a peaceful meadow. This technique is also known as visualization or guided meditation. Guided imagery may help in reducing stress and anxiety and promote relaxation.
In guided imagery, you intentionally think of a peaceful place or pleasant scenario. The goal is to promote a calm state through relaxation and mindfulness. The idea is that your body reacts to your thoughts. For example, when you think about a stressful situation, your body and mind become tense. Your heart rate and blood pressure might increase, and you may feel jittery and unfocused. But if you focus your attention on pleasant scenarios, your mind and body tend to relax. You may feel less tightness and tension in your muscles, while your mind might feel calmer and more at ease. By calming your mind and body, you may be better able to cope with mental, emotional and physical stress. Guided imagery audio recordings are available on many platforms, including YouTube (search for “guided imagery”).
Cognitive Reframing is a way of changing the way you look at something and, thus, changing your experience of it. Positive reframing is our focus, yet it is worth noting that negative reframing can turn a somewhat stressful event into something highly traumatic. On the positive side, that same event could be viewed as a challenge to be bravely overcome. Reframing can depict a really bad day as a mildly low point in an overall wonderful life. It can view a negative event as a learning experience. Your stress response can be triggered by events ranging from annoying to frightening and can remain triggered long after the triggering event has passed, especially if you’re not practicing relaxation techniques. Reframing is a way of minimizing the stressors you perceive in your life, thus easing the process of relaxation.
Using reframing techniques can be simple and easy, especially with practice. Learn about your thinking patterns. Notice your thoughts. Challenge your thoughts. And finally, replace your thoughts with more positive thoughts. Practicing reframing can decrease stress and promote a greater sense of peace and control. For a guide to practicing cognitive reframing, visit here. Both guided imagery and cognitive reframing are simple tools we can use to adjust our life and achieve big, positive effects. The important thing to remember is to examine your thinking and practice. Over time you can become skilled in these proven techniques, managing stress and anxiety by helping your body and mind to cope.