Managing Stress..and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Managing Stress

‘They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’

Andy Warhol

Whether you agree with the perspective above or not, it certainly is a perspective or view that is worthy of reflection. It is a perspective that gives people a lot more power than we sometimes believe we have.

In relation to stress, it often can be the case that it is circumstances outside of our control that seems to cause the stressful feeling to arise. But, if this is the case, does that mean that a particular method cannot be employed by a person in order to lift the weight of the stress off? Surely getting soaked in the rain doesn’t mean a person has to stay wet until enough time passes for them to eventually become dry again. We change our clothes and dry our hair and in those simple actions, we change things. So how about some action to combat stress? How about finding a way to let go of stress when circumstances land it on our plate? Stress, like so many other feelings that can overwhelm us, can be processed so that it doesn’t have a grip on us. Here is one possible route towards taking control of stress and it involves a Cognitive-Behavioural approach.


Research supports the assertion that cognitive-behavioural therapy works effectively when dealing with feelings such as fear, anxiety or stress. This model of therapy highlights the link between how we think, how we feel and how we behave. How we think influences how we feel and how we feel influences how we behave. With overwhelming stress therefore, the resulting behaviour may be lying awake at night tossing and turning instead of being able to rest and sleep. In order to have different behaviour, the feeling needs to change and in order for the feeling to change, some focus needs to go to what thoughts are in the mind, as the thoughts, according to Cognitive Behavioural Theory are influencing the feeling. Trying to change your thoughts is not that simple though, particularly thoughts that seem almost automatic. Ways of thinking can become well ingrained.

Therefore, the first step but not the only step is to begin to monitor your thoughts. Paying close attention to how closely linked our thoughts and feelings are requires effort. Then working to figure out why the thoughts are there is the next essential step in combating the stressful feeling as this process of working out what is influencing your thinking gives insight into what beliefs you hold. Beliefs influence how a person thinks, and yet sometimes beliefs that people hold are not that obvious even to person themselves. Uncovering them at least gives you a choice about whether you wish to hold on to that belief or not. Not knowing it is there means you have no choice to keep it or let it go. Sometimes when stress hits, it can feel as if there is nothing you can do to combat it but we really do quite often have more power than we realise. Taking control of your mind by managing your thoughts is a skill that takes practice and it can be done. The ultimate power is the power of mindset…that is what I believe.