Cognitive Reframing: Definition, Benefits & How Cognitive Reframing Helps In Stress Management

Last Update on July 20, 2021 : Published on July 20, 2021
Cognitive Reframing

When we are faced with stressful situations, our thinking process gets affected. Distorted and negative thinking can affect how we handle or experience the situation we’re in. Cognitive reframing is a therapy technique that can help us change our mindset so we can look at a potentially stressful situation from a different perspective.

This psychotherapy technique is used to help us look at situations, people, or even relationships in a way that is less stressful and more positive.

In this article, we’ll explore what are cognitive reframing techniques, their benefits, and how you can use cognitive reframing in reducing stress.

What Is Cognitive Reframing?

What Is Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing can be defined as a technique that helps us change our perspective when we are stuck in a pattern of negative thinking. Cognitive reframing can be done at home with proper preparation and when performed under the supervision of a professional psychologist, it can be referred to as cognitive reconstructing.

The idea behind this technique is to reframe our thought process so that we view and eventually experience the situation from a different viewpoint. When we reframe our thinking, our behavior also often changes.

Cognitive reframing examples can be:

Before: “I can’t get through this.”

After: “It might look difficult but I’m strong and resilient. I can get through this – one day at a time.”

With the help of cognitive reframing, we can alter our perspective and make changes we think can reduce stress and enhance positivity in a particular situation.

Cognitive Reframing Benefits

While cognitive reframing is performed mostly under the supervision of a psychologist, it can be performed at home too. The benefits of cognitive reframing can, however, be:

  1. It offers an alternative perspective or viewpoint to a problem.
  2. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and ruminating thoughts.
  3. It helps reduce burnout and enhances the overall quality of life.
  4. It helps improve self-reflection and self-awareness when it comes to thought processing.
  5. It can also help improve compassion and develop positive self-talk.

Issues Cognitive Reframing Can Help With

Cognitive reframing or cognitive reconstruction can help treat issues and disorders such as:

How Cognitive Reframing Affects Stress?

With the help of cognitive reframing techniques, we can shift our stress response. More often than not, the physical changes in our body due to stress are triggered by our fight or flight response.

If you think you’re under threat – physically or mentally – your body will automatically activate the stress response.

This stress response can be triggered by slightly annoying situations to life-threatening situations. Sometimes, this stress response remains even after the threat is gone.

Reframing techniques, here, can help you reduce the stress response and increase relaxation. Looking at a situation from a slightly different perspective can be helpful especially when you find yourself stuck in a loop of negative thinking.

Cognitive Reframing For Stress Management

Cognitive Reframing For Stress Management

Cognitive reframing, while used more commonly during counseling, can be practiced at home in these steps:

1. Understanding Your Thinking Pattern

The first step in cognitive reframing is to understand your thinking pattern and how they are affecting your stress response. Negative thinking can increase stress. Pessimists or negative thinkers often experience more stress than others.

The first thing to do is to educate yourself and under your thought process before moving forward.

2. Observe Your Thoughts

The second step here is to observe your thoughts and be aware of them. Only by being mindful of your thoughts, you’ll be able to change them. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, note them down. If you like, you can start a journal to record your thoughts.

Meditation can also help in examining your thoughts. Once you’re aware of your negative thoughts, it can become easier to reframe them.

3. Question Your Thoughts

Once you’ve noticed your thoughts, the next step is to ask yourself; Is what you’re thinking true? How can the situation be perceived? Is this thinking relevant? Instead of going along with your thoughts, question them until you begin to notice a positive outlook.

4. Replace Your Thoughts

This is the final step in cognitive reframing. Replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones. When you see or think something negative, try to change your self-talk. Use less negative words and more positive ones instead.

For example; You failed a test or a presentation at work. Instead of thinking “I’m a failure”, think; “I’m smart but I didn’t prepare better. Next time, I’ll do better.

Things To Keep In Mind…

While practicing cognitive reframing can be helpful, it is important to remember that it can be challenging as well. It is not easy to change your thought patterns. Some common cognitive distortions you may face can be:

  • All or nothing thinking
  • Blaming
  • Catastrophizing
  • Ignoring the positive
  • Focusing on the negative

If you’re struggling with these challenges, it is recommended that you seek help from a professional psychologist. With the right help, you can learn to change your thinking from negative to positive and live a happy, healthy life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal or self-harm thoughts, please immediately reach out to your nearest helpline or contact any of these helpline numbers.

If you’d like to connect with a professional counselor or therapist, you can click here to find and connect with a licensed and trained counselor.

I hope this article helped you understand what cognitive reframing is and how it can help in stress management. For more, you can write to us at or connect with us on social media.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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