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How do you recover from stress?

5 min

How do you recover from stress?

Rewriting stress: your guide to turning tension into growth

Ever found yourself spiralling into stress over a small situation? If you’re vigorously nodding, you’re in good company. It turns out, our brains are hardwired with certain patterns, or "schemas," that help us navigate life's complexities. These mental shortcuts are born from our experiences, serving as guides to solve problems without reinventing the wheel every time.

However, these mental schemas aren't foolproof. Sometimes, they lead us astray, causing us to jump to conclusions or view situations worse than they actually may be. It's like following an outdated map that doesn't account for new roads or obstacles. Fortunately, there's a way to redraw these maps more accurately, through a process known as cognitive restructuring. This method is all about challenging and changing those sticky negative thoughts that lead us down the path of negative rumination and prolonged stress.

Imagine cognitive restructuring as a mental Swiss Army knife, designed to help you dissect and reconstruct the negative narratives in your mind. It teaches you not to take every negative thought at face value, encouraging a fact-checking process to see if these thoughts hold water.

Our affective response, or the immediate emotions we feel in response to stress, play a crucial role in how we recover from it. In fact, whether our affective stress response is predominantly positive or negative will heavily affect how we recover from it. With stressors felt more negatively taking much longer to recover from compared to those felt as positive events. The more negative the feelings, the longer it takes to recover. This phenomenon is closely tied to a concept known as perseverative cognition—our tendency to ruminate over negative past or future events. This mental loop not only intensifies the stressor but can also exacerbate it into a chronic health hazard by keeping our body's regulatory systems in a state of prolonged reactivity.

By consciously altering our narrative about stressors, we engage in cognitive reframing, turning potential threats into opportunities for growth. This approach doesn't just mitigate the immediate stress response but also shields us from the long-term health issues associated with chronic stress activation.

Shifting your thought patterns isn’t a walk in the park. It requires the same dedication and persistence as mastering a musical instrument or conquering the art of cycling. The goal is to become adept at identifying those unhelpful thoughts and flipping them into positives, a skill that gets sharper with practice.

Recognising the challenge of altering these 'schemas,' NOWATCH has introduced the Prolonged Stress Vibrations feature. Soon you will be able to specify the duration after which you wish to be alerted about sustained high emotional reactivity (stress). When this set period is exceeded, the device vibrates as a gentle nudge to encourage you to pause and Check-In.


Vibration feature at NOWATCH app

Do you have more positive or negative feelings toward the stressor? Deciphering between the two is the first step in altering your perception towards the stressful event. This alert acts as a bridge, connecting the recognition of bodily signals of stress to the opportunity for positive reframing and taking thoughtful, actionable steps towards managing it.

Editor Olivia Ellice-flint


Rebecca O.

Research Trainee

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