Restructure Your Thoughts to Banish Stress

Restructure your thoughts
 
By writing our thoughts down, we help ourselves understand our thinking, spot trouble and have a chance to reframe how we think about things. Writing our thoughts allows us to let things out, and gain perspective. Once we become aware of what we are telling ourselves, we create space to think more positively and rationally.
 
Follow these steps to observe and restructure your thoughts:
 
1. Write down your thought.
 
Ask yourself, what is going through my mind? Often times our thoughts are automatic. Observe what you are thinking and write down what comes up. For example: “I will never get a good job.”
 
2. Write about the feelings you have when thinking about this particular thought or situation.
 
For example, when I think about getting a good job, I feel overwhelmed and afraid I will never get a got job and I will be stuck working in a low paying job I don’t like at all.
 
Moods include: Sad, angry, frustrated, humiliated, insecure, afraid.
 
3. Write down all the evidence you have to support the thought you have as true.
 
For instance, I have applied for ten jobs that I consider good, and have not heard back from anyone.
 
4. Write down all the evidence you have that does not support the thought.
 
As difficult as it might be, think about evidence that goes against your thought. Give yourself a few minutes to think.
 
For example, many people have to send out loads of resumes before they find a job. With the economy not doing well, it will likely be harder for me to find a job.
 
5. Identify the mistakes or distortions in your thinking. Now that you have looked at your thought, your mood, and evidence in support of and against your thought, the next step is to change your thinking and come to a more balanced view of the situation.
 
For example: “It’s unlikely I will never get a good job. It might take some time to find something in this economy. I can send out more resumes and keep trying.”
 
6. Reflect on your mood now. Is there any change?
 
For further reading about cognitive distortions and thought restructuring, check out “Feeling Good” by David Burns.

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