Emotion-Oriented Approaches to Stress Management


There are various approaches to effective stress management, or the practice of limiting stress and reducing its effects on the mind and body. One way to approach stress management is an emotion-oriented approach. Rather than trying to change a stressful situation, an emotional-oriented approach focuses on changing the way a stressful situation is perceived, resulting in reduced stress levels.

Emotion-oriented approaches to stress management involve managing feelings with cognitive and behavioral tools. Here are some examples of emotion-oriented approaches to stress management:

Reframing the situation

Instead of focusing on the negatives of a situation, changing focus to the positives can reduce stress levels. For example, if a job interview did not lead to a job offer, focusing on the fact that the interview was good practice for future interviews, which may lead to even better opportunities, changes the experience to a positive one rather than a negative one.

Practicing cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring involves identifying negative thoughts and restructuring them into positive thoughts. Black-and-white thinking, overgeneralizing and catastrophizing are patterns of negative thinking. Cognitive restructuring involves recognizing these negative thought patterns, questioning assumptions that lead to those thoughts, gathering evidence that may contradict them, and generating alternative explanations that are rational and positive.

Developing positive affirmations

Positive affirmations or mantras can promote positive feelings and overall outlook during stressful situations. For example, silently repeating, “I can do more than I think” or “Positivity is a choice I choose to make” can be helpful.

Looking at the big picture

Sometimes a stressful situation feels more devastating than it actually is. Asking a question like, “Will this matter in five years?” is one way to put a situation in perspective. This can make the stressful situation feel less overwhelming.

While an emotion-oriented approach to stress management does not change the reality of a stressful situation, it can change personal feelings and responses to a stressful experience. An emotion-oriented approach can also be combined with an action-oriented or acceptance-oriented approach to further reduce stress.