“Tension is a habit. Relaxing is a habit. Bad habits can be broken, good habits formed.”
The therapist Arnold Lazarus in the 1980s devised a way of observing and tackling our reaction to stress, categorising it by 7 modalities. Observing our reaction to a perceived challenge in this way not only briefly distracts us from the experience of being stressed, but it also makes way for acceptance of ourselves, rather than denial or shame at our reaction. Stress is good for us, after all, but only in the right proportions and particularly when we can do something to change the situation. It’s a survival reaction.
Once we have observed our reaction, we can start to tackle some of the factors and regain a sense of control. Plan to react in a different, more functional way next time.
Here are the 7 modalities. How do you measure up against them?
• Behaviour – the way you act
• Affect – the emotions you experience
• Sensory – what you feel in your body
• Imaginal – the pictures created in your mind’s eye
• Cognitive – the thoughts and conclusions that you jump to
• Interpersonal – how your interaction with others changes
• Dependency – the things that help you cope or make you feel better.
What’s the BASIC ID of your stress reaction?
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