Changing how you look at a situation really can make a big difference.

When you can’t change your circumstances, change your mindset. Reframing is a technique used in therapy to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning. Amy Morin, LCSW, states that “The essential idea behind reframing is that a person’s point-of-view depends on the frame it is viewed in. When the frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking and behavior often change along with it.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as we inch closer to our one-year anniversary of lockdown here in Southern California…and contemplate the reality of another six months of restrictions before vaccinations are fully rolled out. So how do we handle the endless isolation from friends and loved ones, and mitigate the effects of this separation? Reframing has helped – I’ve decided to change my thinking, and start looking for the opportunities. While I’ve made progress this year (read more about my Adventures in Baking, and hey, we started this cool website – thanks for reading!), there is still more I’d like to get done. When the world re-opens again and it’s safe to be around people, I know I am going to want to be out with friends all the time. So right now is a perfect time to get some of those other things done (like cleaning out my garage, which is a hot mess.) See? Reframing.

Kari Leibowitz, a Stanford University health psychologist in the Mind and Body Lab, talked with the Washington Post recently. She studies and is an expert on what’s often called the “wintertime mind-set” of cultures who have hours of darkness in the winter – in some places in northern Scandinavia, the sun doesn’t rise at all for two months. But surprisingly, they don’t have a higher incidence of seasonal affective disorder than we have in the U.S. “One reason . . . is that they tend to have a positive wintertime mind-set” unlike many Americans, she told the Washington Post. “They see the winter as a special time of year full of opportunities for enjoyment and fulfillment, rather than a limiting time of year to dread.”

Her research found that a positive mind-set (as a result of reframing) is associated with well-being, greater life satisfaction and more positive emotions like pleasure and happiness. And who can’t use a bit more of that right now?

Read more about her research at The Washington Post.

Read more about using cognitive reframing for mental health at Very Well Mind.

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