Ten Stressful Thought Patterns that Cause Stress and Anxiety | Cognitive Healing (2023)

Stress can be defined by different people differently. But the fact is that we all experience stress. It is just how we deal with it, differs from individual to individual. Potential stress is something that tends to threaten you or something that you give importance to. Life events like death, loss of a job, divorce, separation, marital conflict, abuse,domestic violence, physical and emotional trauma can all cause stress to the person as they put a threat in the person’s life and the person feels insecure. Over a period of time, if these life events continue to happen, the person becomes very stressed out and also can suffer from mental illnesses, like PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and thought disorder. The memory, images of these events pervade in the life of the person and evoke pain and suffering. Once the person is healed from these traumatic events, the person adopts a healthy attitude and moves on. Thought process is something that needs to be mentioned here. These are internal triggers for stress in the absence of these stressful events. It is important to be aware of the traps that we fall into which cause stress in the person’s life. Following are the ten cognitive distortions that can create stress in the person’s life. One needs to be cognizant of these distortions in order to reframe the faulty thought patterns:

1.Often we tend to believe every thought that comes to our mind with so much conviction that it begins to appear real and causes the person to feel stress out. In reality, thoughts are just thoughts and they do not necessarily represent objective reality. There is a subjective bias element that begins to operate in these situations. This is when the person distorts the reality and imagines all kinds of scenarios related to the event. In this way the perception can be responsible for the feelings of anxiety and insecurity that the person is experiencing. Therefore it is vital to check the reality before jumping to conclusion and making silent assumptions about the situation.

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2.When the person begins to believe that all thoughts are true just because the individual has them it is called the “Thought are True Distortion”. This seems to be irrational because human beings have a tendency to form opinions and make value judgments about people, situation, and events. Again, the subjective bias can creep in and distort the reality. When you begin to base your conclusions on merely what you think, you can fall in trap with this kind of distortion. Sometimes random thoughts cross our mind and put irrational seeds in our mind. This can cause stress because you could be imagining many things that are really not present in the situation. Thoughts just exist but they are not necessarily true or false. They can be misrepresenting the reality and this can cause unnecessary stress.

3.When the person begins to believe that all thoughts are equally important, he or she can be making an error in thinking. Some thoughts just represent our opinion and evaluation. Some of them might be important and others may be just irrelevant. However, the person does not discriminate between the important thoughts and irrelevant thoughts and draw a conclusion that leads to stress. We need to be aware of the thoughts that are exaggerated and generalized. It is important to say that these thoughts are not important so try to withdraw your attention from them. So it is good to not take all thoughts seriously and give every thought the same high importance.

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4.As mentioned earlier, we sometimes tend to take each thought seriously and begin to act on them as if someone has ordered us to do that. Remember, this is the person’s own creation and just because the thought crosses the mind, does not mean that the person has to take it as on order and act on it compulsively. We become tense and angry as the thought triggers a stress response. It is good to be mindful of these thoughts and not act on them the moment they arise in your head.

5.Sometimes we imagine a threat in every situation and begin to believe every thought that comes in our mind. Not all thoughts are real, some of the thoughts pose unnecessary threat to the person and they are dysfunctional thoughts. But the person who gets them, tends to believe them and feels threatened leading to feeling stressed out. We need to watch out for this tendency and not give in to every thought that comes to our head.

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6.Sometimes, we create scary pictures of the situation and begin to believe in them as they are real. This can cause stress too. For example, you may have experienced being trapped in an elevator once. Now you begin to imagine that all elevators are going to malfunction and you will be trapped in them no matter what. You have memory and images from the past that pose danger in your mind, but, remember these are just images and they do not exist in the present and real moment. Stress and anxiety can be avoided by rational and positive self talk with the help of affirmations to reduce stress.

7.Sometimes we get trapped in a thinking style that encompasses permanence, pervasiveness and personalization. According to Richard Blonna, ED.D, these traps can cause immense stress in the person. When the person begins to believe that stress is going to last forever, this is called the permanence distortion. In reality, very few stressors last forever. By dwelling in the aftermath of it and thinking about it, the person tends to prolong the stress. Losses, grief can be dealt with adequately and with time, the person can get over it and move on too. Pessimistic people tend to have a distorted perception about their losses and suffering and believe that temporary setbacks will affect their lives permanently. If you are optimistic, you will have a more functional approach to such life events and they can avoid the stress by just thinking differently. They will have a positive self talk which will help them cope with their stress better. They will believe that the storm will pass and they will resume their normal and healthy functioning soon. One should have a context specific view point and not generalize it to every aspect of life.

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8.When the person tends to believe that the effects of stress are all pervasive and they will affect every aspect of their lives, they are making an error in their thinking and need to reframe their thinking style. Just because the even affected one aspect of your life does not mean that you will be affected by it in every aspect of life. Pessimistic people tend to make the over generalization error and begin to believe that just because they have weakness in one area, they will fail in all other areas of life too. In reality this is not true and it can cause so much stress to the person.

9.Sometimes, pessimistic people take every events personally and feel stressed out. An objective comment can be mistaken as criticism and the person will start to feel attacked and criticized. Then they blame the other person and do not take the responsibility to correct the situation. Optimistic people are always taking responsibility and do not blame external factors for their setbacks and failures. They are more guided by the internal view personal responsibility so they take charge of the situation and make healthy and wise decisions to cope with the situation.

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10.Sometimes we have old and outdated viewpoints about ourselves and we let them guide our present situation. Again, the irrational thoughts and scripts could be causing stress to the person. These outdated thoughts and faded snapshots are no longer representing who you are today so it is not a good idea to base your current conclusions on them. They tend to undermine self-confidence and misrepresent the reality.

In this way we see, we can deal with our stress more effectively when we try to manage our stress by controlling our thoughts and not giving in to every thought that comes to mind in relation to a stressful event or situation. Notice if you are making any distortion in your conclusion and reframe your thoughts with healthy and functional thought patterns. Writer has written blog post entitled, How Thoughts Affect our Mind. Readers are referred to this blog post on the website for more details. Hypnosis can also help ease symptoms of stress and anxiety. Please visit our Blossom Hypnotherapy page to learn how hypnosis can help reduce symptoms of Anxiety disorders.

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Reference: Stress Less, Live More by Richard Blonna, ED.D


What are the top 10 causes of stress? ›

What kind of situations can cause stress?
  • Illness or injury.
  • Pregnancy and becoming a parent.
  • Infertility and problems having children.
  • Bereavement.
  • Experiencing abuse.
  • Experiencing crime and the justice system, such as being arrested, going to court or being a witness.
  • Organising a complicated event, like a holiday.

How can I improve my stress and anxiety? ›

  1. Get active. Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. ...
  2. Meditate. ...
  3. Laugh more. ...
  4. Connect with others. ...
  5. Assert yourself. ...
  6. Try yoga. ...
  7. Get enough sleep. ...
  8. Keep a journal.

What thoughts create stress? ›

The way you that think about things can cause stress. Read our tips to reduce stress-producing thoughts.
Examples of core beliefs [PDF] include:
  • I am weak.
  • I am a failure.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I am unattractive.
  • I am bound to be rejected.
  • The world is a dangerous place.
  • Other people cannot be trusted.

What are the 7 causes of stress? ›

Examples of life stresses are:
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Divorce.
  • Loss of a job.
  • Increase in financial obligations.
  • Getting married.
  • Moving to a new home.
  • Chronic illness or injury.
  • Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
Mar 16, 2022

What are 10 examples of stressors? ›

Life events
  • Death of a loved one.
  • Losing a job.
  • Illness.
  • Starting university.
  • Work promotion.
  • Birth of a child.
  • Marriage.
  • Winning the lottery.

What is the biggest cause of stress and anxiety? ›

Concerns about money, work and the economy top the list of most frequently cited sources of stress.

What foods calm nerves? ›

Foods naturally rich in magnesium may, therefore, help a person to feel calmer. Examples include leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard. Other sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.

Can stress and anxiety be healed? ›

Can anxiety disorder be completely cured? There is no cure for anxiety disorders, but they are treatable. Treatment for anxiety disorders can include medication, therapy, or a combination of both. It's important to work with a healthcare provider to find the treatment that best suits your concerns.

What type of thoughts cause anxiety? ›

Some unwanted intrusive thoughts consist of repetitive doubts about relationships, decisions small and large, sexual orientation or identity, intrusions of thoughts about safety, religion, death or worries about questions that cannot be answered with certainty. Some are just weird thoughts that make no apparent sense.

What are the 6 triggers of stress? ›

There are six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly. These are: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

Can thoughts create anxiety? ›

Anxiety can both cause and be caused by “Bad” thoughts. Worrying is perhaps the most common symptom of most forms of anxiety. Some conditions, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, are caused by unwanted thoughts.

What are the 4 A's of stress? ›

Fortunately, there are 4 steps to help reduce stress and cope with the inevitable stressors of everyday life:
  • Avoid. Believe it or not, it is possible to escape some of the minor stressors that tend to trouble people: ...
  • Alter. Communicate clearly and let people know your expectations. ...
  • Accept. ...
  • Adapt.
Mar 8, 2021

What was number 1 causes stress? ›

Financial Problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), money is the top cause of stress in the United States. In a 2015 survey, the APA reported that 72% of Americans stressed about money at least some of the time during the previous month.

What are 15 common stressors? ›

Top 15 grad school stressors
1. Academic responsibilities or pressures68 percent
2. Finances or debt64 percent
3. Anxiety61 percent
4. Poor work/school-life balance59 percent
5. Family issues45 percent
10 more rows

What are the top 10 stressors in life of a student? ›

Some of the things students commonly cite as causes of stress include:
  • examinations.
  • deadlines.
  • returning to study.
  • pressure of combining paid work and study.
  • difficulty in organising work.
  • poor time management.
  • leaving assignments to the last minute.
  • out of control debts.

What are 5 positive stressors? ›

Examples of positive personal stressors include:
  • Receiving a promotion or raise at work.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Marriage.
  • Buying a home.
  • Having a child.
  • Moving.
  • Taking a vacation.
  • Holiday seasons.

Who suffers from stress the most? ›

Younger people have higher stress related to the pressure to succeed. 60% of 18-24-year-olds and 41% of 25-34-year-olds cited this, compared to 17% of 45-54s and 6% of over 55s).

What are 4 signs of stress and anxiety? ›

If you are stressed, you might feel:
  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up.
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed.
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid.
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off.
  • Unable to enjoy yourself.
  • Depressed.
  • Uninterested in life.
  • Like you've lost your sense of humour.

What are the three main causes of anxiety? ›

Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, stressful life events, or a combination of these. The doctor's initial task is to see if your anxiety is a symptom of another medical condition.

How can I permanently remove negative thoughts from my mind? ›

Simple Steps to Stop Negative Thoughts
  1. Pause a Moment. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or stuck in negative thinking patterns, PAUSE. ...
  2. Notice the Difference. NOTICE the difference between being stuck in your thoughts vs. ...
  3. Label Your Thoughts. ...
  4. Choose Your Intention.
Dec 3, 2022

How to stop overthinking? ›

These tips can help you move in the right direction.
  1. Step back and look at how you're responding. ...
  2. Find a distraction. ...
  3. Take a deep breath. ...
  4. Meditate. ...
  5. Look at the bigger picture. ...
  6. Do something nice for someone else. ...
  7. Recognize automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) ...
  8. Acknowledge your successes.

What is the best breakfast for anxiety? ›

Carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect. Eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains — for example, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals.

What Vitamin calms the nervous system? ›

Neurotropic B vitamins play crucial roles as coenzymes and beyond in the nervous system. Particularly vitamin B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) contribute essentially to the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.

What vitamins are good for anxiety? ›

B-complex, vitamin E, vitamin C, GABA, and 5-HTP are 5 vitamins commonly used to help with anxiety and stress.

Can you heal your brain from stress? ›

Luckily, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold, change, and rebuild damaged areas as you practice new behaviors. So implementing healthy stress-relieving techniques can train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects from stress in the future.

How do you heal years of stress? ›

Strategies to recover from chronic stress can include practicing mindfulness activities such as meditation and breathing exercises. People can also have a support system composed of family and friends, as well as a counselor or a psychiatrist if needed. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication to reduce stress.

What helps anxiety naturally? ›

10 natural remedies for anxiety
  • Stay active. ...
  • Steer clear of alcohol. ...
  • Consider quitting smoking cigarettes. ...
  • Limit caffeine intake. ...
  • Prioritize getting a good night's rest. ...
  • Meditate and practice mindfulness. ...
  • Eat a balanced diet. ...
  • Practice deep breathing.

How I cured my intrusive thoughts? ›

Tips to manage intrusive thoughts
  1. Mindfulness meditation. ...
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) ...
  3. Remember, 'This too shall pass' ...
  4. Visualization techniques. ...
  5. Spend time with a pet. ...
  6. Externalize the thought. ...
  7. Ground yourself in the present. ...
  8. Take a walk in nature.

What weird thoughts can anxiety cause? ›

The crazy thoughts anxiety symptoms are often described as:
  • Having thoughts that seem odd, bizarre, and crazy.
  • Thoughts that seem to be wrong, upsetting, and frightening because they are so uncharacteristic of your thinking.
  • Thoughts that seem off kilter, strange, and unsettling.
Mar 2, 2022

What are examples of anxiety intrusive thoughts? ›

Seven common intrusive thought examples
  • 1) The thought of hurting a baby or child. ...
  • 2) Thoughts of doing something violent or illegal. ...
  • 3) Thoughts that cause doubt. ...
  • 4) Unexpected reminders about painful past events. ...
  • 5) Worries about catching germs or a serious illness. ...
  • 6) Concern you might do something embarrassing.
Nov 1, 2021

What are the 3 A's of stress? ›

When your stress level exceeds your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by reducing the stressors or increasing your ability to cope or both. Try using one of the four A's: avoid, alter, accept or adapt.

What are the 5 R's of coping with stress? ›

The Five R's are: Rethink, Relax, Release, Reduce, and Reorganize.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for stress? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

How do I stop living in my head? ›

Take action toward what matters
  1. Accept What You Can't Control.
  2. Step Back From Your Thoughts.
  3. Focus On The Present Moment.
  4. Remove Limiting Self-definitions.
  5. Live By Your Core Values.
  6. Take Action Toward What Matters.
  7. Conclusion.

How can I control my mind and thoughts? ›

How to control your mind
  1. Practice mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises.
  2. Include positive affirmations in your self-talk rather than put-downs.
  3. Take a pause during your day to slow your mind down.
  4. Avoid things that trigger negative thoughts, like scrolling through social media.
Aug 4, 2022

What are the 3 C's of stress management? ›

Kobasa introduced the concept of psychological hardiness and suggested that hardiness moderates the relationship between stressful life events and illness. Kobasa characterized hardiness as comprising of three components or the 3C's: Commitment, Control, and Challenge.

What are the 5 stages of stress? ›

There are 5 stages of stress, knowing them can help you take action in the moment, to stop yourself spiralling out of control.
  • Stage 1: Fight or Flight. We perceive some kind of threat. ...
  • Stage 2: Damage control. ...
  • Stage 3: Recovery. ...
  • Stage 4: Adaption. ...
  • Stage 5: Burnout.
Nov 25, 2021

What are the 7 steps in managing stress? ›

Here are several tips to help women as well as men:
  • Recognize and counter signs of stress. ...
  • Take time for yourself. ...
  • Try new routines. ...
  • Stay connected and make new friends. ...
  • See problems through a different lens. ...
  • Seek help with problems.

What are 7 tips to avoid stressful situations? ›

7 Tips to Avoid Stress
  • Take care of yourself. Avoid drugs and alcohol as they can add to stress. ...
  • Engage in self-relaxation. ...
  • Take breaks when needed. ...
  • Seek out social support. ...
  • Connect with others socially. ...
  • Maintain a normal routine. ...
  • Give back to others.

What are 4 daily stressors? ›

Daily stress can be both anticipated and unanticipated. Anticipated daily stressors include, for example, driving in rush hour traffic on the way home from work, paying bills, working long hours, job performance evaluations, or taking children to after-school activities.

What are the top 10 stress factors? ›

Top 10 stressors in life
  1. Death of a spouse. ...
  2. Divorce. ...
  3. Marital separation. ...
  4. Being incarcerated. ...
  5. Death of a close family member. ...
  6. Major personal injury or illness. ...
  7. Marriage. ...
  8. Being fired or laid off from work.

What are the top 10 life events which cause stress? ›

Top 10 Stressful Life Events
  1. Death of a spouse.
  2. Divorce.
  3. Marital separation from mate.
  4. Detention in jail or other institution.
  5. Death of a close family member.
  6. Major personal injury or illness.
  7. Marriage.
  8. Being fired at work.
Jul 19, 2018

What number is stress killer? ›


What is the #1 cause of stress? ›

Financial Problems

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), money is the top cause of stress in the United States. In a 2015 survey, the APA reported that 72% of Americans stressed about money at least some of the time during the previous month.

Is stress the silent killer? ›

Many people may look at the impact of stress on health and quality of life and wonder, is stress the number one killer? As it's directly associated with the six leading causes of death, stress can be called a silent killer. A 2021 study shows that physical and mental stressors can lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD).

What part of the body does stress affect first? ›

During times of stress, the hypothalamus, a collection of nuclei that connects the brain and the endocrine system, signals the pituitary gland to produce a hormone, which in turn signals the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, to increase the production of cortisol.

What are the 3 biggest causes of stress in the US today? ›

Money (64%) Work (60%) The economy (49%) Family responsibilities (47%)

What are the 3 P's of stress? ›

Permission, Pleasure, Presence — Your 3 Ps for Stress-less Holiday Eating.


1. The science behind stress eating
(CBS Mornings)
2. #LetsTalkAboutIt: How to Overcome Anxiety
(Psych Hub)
3. Beyond Stress and Anxiety: How Stress Affects the Body and What You Can Do to Manage It
(Stanford Health Care)
4. Breaking the wall of ruminative anxious thought
(University of York)
5. Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Physical Pain? | Neuroscience Of The Mind Body Connection
(Sukie Baxter - Whole Body Revolution)
6. How to Beat Anxiety and Insomnia | Neuroscientist Matthew Walker
(How To Academy Mindset)
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