Cognitive Strategies for Dealing with Stress

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  • 0:01 Rethinking Stress
  • 0:48 Differences from…
  • 1:31 What Stress Can Do for You
  • 2:16 Changing Your Perspective
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

In this lesson, we'll learn some cognitive strategies for dealing with stress. This involves dealing with stress in a different manner, but allows us to be more proactive about it.

Rethinking Stress

Before we go any further, I want you to think about something that stresses you out. Maybe it's a test, or a relationship, or even your job. I know, it's disconcerting to have to think about something that causes you discord, but just trust me. Got it? Good.

Right now you're probably wondering why I'd choose to start a lesson with something that stresses you out—isn't this a quick way to get you to give up on the lesson and go back to social media? Well, maybe not. In this lesson, we're going to look at cognitive strategies for dealing with stress, which means we're really looking at new ways of handling stress without changing behavior. As you can imagine, this may be a bit more difficult than some of the behavior approaches you've used before. However, it is nonetheless a useful way of helping to put stress into perspective.

Differences from Behavioral Approaches

Unless this is your first time finding ways to avoid stress, chances are you've encountered lists on stress reduction techniques in the past. Often, these are ideas like exercise, meditation, or talking to your friends. All of those are great ideas, but they are all behavioral in nature. Put another way, they are ways to react to a stressor. You can't very well talk to your friends about the idea of stress, but you've can talk to them about something that stresses you out. Likewise, running or dancing may help you build up some sort of immunity to stress, but they are still behaviors that will only see their real effect after you're already stressed out. From here on out, for the next few minutes, we're going to focus on trying to be proactive about stress.

What Stress Can Do for You

Let's think about what stress is. Remember that our ancestors didn't have to deal with social media or jobs; they had to deal with finding food and not being the next meal of a saber tooth tiger. In that mindset, stress isn't such a bad thing because it refocuses your mind. Sure, being chased by a saber tooth tiger is stressful, but at least your attention is solely focused on that big cat!

So back to the modern day. Stress exists when there is something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Try to analyze how you are getting pushed out of your comfort zone. Got that stressful idea in your head still? Alright, let's look at it. What makes it so scary? Is it because it's a threat to you? Is it because you're scared of what will happen? These are useful questions in figuring out how to turn stress on its head.

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