Reducing Stress by Thinking Differently

“If we went skydiving, most of us would find the situation fairly stressful to say the least. However, if a skydiving instructor was about to make her 300th jump the chances are she would barely be stressed at all.

Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman suggested that the way in which we view a situation makes just as big a difference to our level of stress as the situation itself. They called this concept cognitive appraisal.

Amongst the most influential factors in determining how stressed we feel are our personal beliefs (eg, jumping out of planes is dangerous) and situational factors like how familiar or predictable the event is (the first vs 300th jump).

This is one of the main reasons why in identical situations, some people remain totally calm whilst others become highly distressed.

The joy of this theory is that we can alter our level of stress simply by choosing to think about the situation differently.”

The Mind Gym