One Haverford student uses what’s called cognitive reappraisal
By Ryan Dukarm
Heather Robinson may be stressed, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at her.
The easy going and energetic Haverford College senior from the Boston area has dealt with her fair share of stress as a college student. However, she credits a new technique she learned in her Stress and Coping class to helping alleviate some of her worry in her final year at Haverford.
“It’s called cognitive reappraisal. It’s part of cognitive behavioral therapy” said Robinson, a Psychology major and Neuroscience and Dance double minor, “but it’s more of an easier everyday technique that you can do.”
“I had a little journal and whenever I had these negative thoughts I would write down the situation and what was happening when I had this thought, my mood during it, the thought itself and then whether or not the thought was helpful or accurate.”
Many of Robinson’s stressors were about the amount of responsibilities she balanced, both academically and other wise. When she would go through her responsibilities for
the day, things that she enjoyed and loved began to feel like chores among all the other obligations she had. That led to negative feelings around things she enjoyed.
“Say, I have Bounce rehearsal later today” Robinson said, giving an example of a potential area for cognitive reappraisal by referring to her hip hop dance group Bounce, a group Robinson has been in all four years of college, “I really don’t want to go, I’m so tired, I’m so exhausted, I just want to go back to bed. But thinking about it like that meant that I was dreading it instead of looking forward to seeing my friends.”
Cognitive reappraisal has helped Robinson change her outlook on things she can’t change her commitment to. She loves dancing, so keeping those negative thoughts in a notebook where she can analyze whether they are helpful or not allows her to put a more positive spin on stressors in her life and continue to enjoy her many obligations.
Robinson went on to say that as a senior her stress has developed into stress about managing her responsibilities and worrying about her future. As a first year, she was often worried “about the high school to college transition.” Continue reading