With anxiety and uncertainty running high, mental health experts say there is one technique that can be a boost for all of us. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kim Kettle, with Life Solutions, gives us a real life look at “cognitive reframing.”
Cognitive Reframing involves identifying our negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive adaptive ones. For example, I have a friend whose daughter is a senior in high school and she’s devastated she is missing out on senior year … prom, sports, and possibly even graduation. She feels like this is the worst situation and it is causing her to feel sad, tearful and anxious. Talking with her to help her change the way she thinks about the situation allows a person to feel more calm and problem solve alternative options to celebrating these milestones.
Tactics to Help You Reframe
1. Alter your wording
Words do matter, and if your thought is more positive, looking for what you can do, it allows you to have more control and thus create positive emotions. For example, if you were to think “I really hate homeschooling”, you would feel worse than if you thought “I don’t think homeschooling is for me”. So, go with the second one.
2. Ask yourself: “What is the best way for me to accomplish this?
When you are facing a challenge or fear, you can ask yourself this question to help you focus on the solution rather than the problem.
3. Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this?”
Now, instead of having a problem, you have a way to improve yourself. The situation we find ourselves in now is giving us an opportunity to learn.
4. Challenge your assumptions
Look at the reasons you believe the way you do. Chances are you have a strong belief that is being challenged and therefore encouraging you to think negatively about your situation.
Questions to Help You Reframe Common Coronavirus Situations
Situation: “I’m devastated an important event has been cancelled.”
Reframe Question: How could we celebrate this event differently and still make it meaningful?
Situation: “I can’t handle homeschooling.”
Reframe Question: What am I learning that will better help me support my children’s teachers when we go back to school?
Situation: “I’m finding no joy…every day is groundhog day.”
Reframe Question: What could I do today, that I typically don’t have time for when I am not home?
Situation: “I’m going to lose it with (fill-in-the-blank) person in my family.”
Reframe Question: What could I do to serve (fill-in-the blank person) in my family?
Situation: “I miss connecting with others.”
Reframe Question: Who can I check-in with today?