How To Use Positive Reframe Strategies for Stress Relief

When you use positive reframe strategies, your options are open!. Tara Moore/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Sometimes when a day seems stressful or overwhelming, relaxation is just a positive reframe away. Positive reframe strategies take the 'stress' out of stressors--when we reframe, we look at the same situation in a new way that highlights possibilities rather than the "threats" involved.  Viewing our stressors as challenges that we can face, even opportunities, rather than mere threats to our happiness, can help us out of feeling trapped.

Once we broaden our perspectives with positive reframes, we are able to see more opportunities.  More importantly, we can feel less stressed almost immediately.  Read more about reframing and stress relief, and try the following positive reframe strategies below. They can turn your next bad day into a day of new possibilities.

  1. Examine What's Stressing You. Rather than ruminating in feelings of frustration and helplessness, look at your situation with fresh eyes. What aspects of your situation are stressing you the most? What needs do you have that aren't being met? Where do you feel a lack of control? Become aware, if you aren't already, of the parts of your situation that you would most like to change, if you could.
  2. Look For What You Can Change. This first step may seem obvious, but it's not always done. When you reframe, you change your perspective on things. When looking for what you can change, brainstorm for as many possibilities as you can, without judging right away if you can or can't do them. Instead of thinking, 'I wish I could change this,' or even, 'Can I change this?', try thinking, 'How can I change this?' You may not be able to change everything, but with a positive reframe of the situation, you may see possibilities you weren't aware of before. (For more, see this reader response article on making small changes.)
  1. Look For Benefits. If you're in a situation you truly can't change, or if there are aspects you can't change, you can reframe your thoughts and change the way you feel about it by finding benefits in the situation you face. What opportunities might be found amidst the rubble? What strengths might you have gained by simply working through this? When you're looking for benefits, it doesn't mean you gloss over negatives; you simply notice positives as well, and focus on them. (For examples of reframing to find the benefits of a crisis, or to share your own, see this reader response article on blessings in disguise.)
  1. Find The Humor. Have you ever felt that someday you'll look back at this and laugh? Why not let 'someday' be today, and laugh now? When you reframe for humor, you find the aspects of your situation that are so absurd that you can't help but laugh. You can often turn the most stressful aspects of a situation into the funniest, and share those bits of humor with those closest to you (or your 600 closest friends on Facebook) and receive support in the form of shared laughter. Learn more about finding the humor in a stressful situation, and the benefits of laughter as you reframe your way into a good laugh.


  1. Learn more about the differences between optimists and pessimists, and the benefits of optimism. Yo can test your current status (optimist vs. pessimist) with this Optimism Quiz, and learn to be more of an optimist while you're at it.
  2. Maintaining a gratitude journal is a great way to naturally work toward altering your outlook and honing your knack for the positive reframe. It's easy, too, so I encourage you to start tonight.

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