University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Cognitive Restructuring while under Stress

Preview Points

  • When people are highly stressed, they may be focused on how overwhelming the current situation feels like.
  • “Cognitive restructuring” refers to re-conceiving a particular situation or approach to the situation.
  • When people are under stress, they may lapse into a kind of “tunnel vision.” They may not see options which exist.


  • Is this really true?
  • Am I jumping to conclusions?
  • What is the evidence?
  • Am I exaggerating or over-emphasizing a negative aspect of the situation?
  • Am I catastrophizing?
  • How do I know it will happen?
  • So what if it really does happen?
  • Is it really as bad as it seems?
  • Is it to my advantage to maintain this appraisal?
  • Is there another way to look at the situation?

Concluding Points

  • Terms that help to identify stressful automatic thoughts include the following: must, should, always, never, and ought.
  • Think about other ways to reconceptualize the situation to be more accurate and less overwhelming.

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