I recently wrote an article for CollegeVine’s Zen Blog called “Seven Signs You’re Way Too Stressed Out Right Now.” Though it’s aimed at helping high school and college students to learn effective ways to lower their stress levels and improve productivity, the bulk of the article is applicable to people of any age. The article’s insights and advice are based on the work of psychiatrist and cognitive therapist David D. Burns, MD. His techniques involve recognizing and altering negative and self-defeating behavioral patterns, and his behavioral modification methods have been at the heart of many cognitive behavior programs for over 30 years.
Burns, who has taught at Stanford’s School of Medicine, has written several excellent best-selling books on fighting negative self-talk with realistic, fact-based positive alternatives. Years ago, my own therapist recommended his book Feeling Good to me, and I have found his techniques hugely helpful in my own life.
Burns’s work is not about spewing mindless platitudes and bland I-can-do-it positivism. It requires looking directly at the negative things we say to ourselves (and others), then peeking underneath to see what fears and distorted thinking cause such situations. Burns shows us how to counter automatic negative thoughts with relevant, accurate, truthful alternatives; he teaches that we can train ourselves to limit our unconscious and automatic negative self-talk. He shows that there are nearly always alternative ways to see situations that can lead to more positive outcomes in the future.
To learn more about “cognitive reframing” and discover methods to help you permanently improve your relationship with stress, I highly recommend Feeling Good. And, of course, read my article, too!
Photo by Matthieu Spohn for New York Magazine: Science of Us
New York Magazine’s Science of Us website, which features articles related to human behavior, shared this article by Jesse Singal debunking what has been a creeping assumption among media outlets, college counselors and other alarmists that Millennials are fragile, anxious and unfit for the “real world,” and have been coddled and weakened by our overweening, infantilizing society.
Cultural critics posit that today’s college-aged young adults are becoming more stressed, anxious, depressed and generally emotionally frail than ever before, and they say that colleges and society in general are babying them and causing increased neuroticism. This long, extremely detailed and well-researched article points to evidence that those who believe that today’s youth are going to Hell in a handbasket rely too much on their own confirmation bias; undervalue the importance of huge socioeconomic changes over the past decade (including a deep and damaging recession); and, most importantly, ignore actual metrics and provable data that show their negative assumptions about Millennials to be overblown at best and highly inaccurate at worst.
Those who deride Millennials often extrapolate from small samples while ignoring actual, repeatable results from larger longitudinal studies at colleges across the nation. I highly recommend this article for a more factually based and nuanced perspective.