From a cognitive perspective, stress is defined as the combination of circumstantial factors that challenge and outstretch our inborn ability to cope with changes and solve problems effectively.
In order to develop skills to help us do the opposite, that is, to remain equally poised and balanced even when our daily scenarios change dramatically, or for the worse, one must take a cognitive restructuring approach which will aid in the strengthening of coping mechanisms which include:
- sustained breathing
- controlled anxiety
- positive and productive thinking
- positive decision making
- paradigm shifting
- paraphrasing and re-wording
This is what is known as cognitive restructuring; a practice proposed and developed by Greenberger and Padesky (2010) that is explained in their bookMind over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think.
The cognitive restructuring approach is a current best practice in counseling because it focuses on debunking cognitive distortions and on facing the reality of situations through decreasing the emotional edge. This is a proactive way to see problems from an objective and clear point of view so that the natural processes of problem solving and self-preservation are cognitively activated without added or excessive expenditures of energy.
Rather than waiting for stress to hit and then try to get rid of it through specific actions and behaviors, cognitive restructuring aims to avoid stress from building in the first place by re-establishing the social and emotional constructs that affect our daily choices.