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Reframe Your Stress Story, Calm Your Gut!

Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once said, “Between stimulus and thought, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”

It has been shown that stress creates more wear and tear on the body when associated with negative thoughts or a persistent belief that we are unable to cope. Stressors, not just food, can affect our gut microbiome.

We don’t always have the power to avoid or remove certain stressors from our lives, but by building mental resilience, and mindfulness, we can help support physiological resilience to stress.

What we think about and how we respond to situations give context to stress. This is where choice and an opportunity to reframe things through a new or wider perspective comes in. We can choose whether events are harmful or harmless, obstacles or opportunities for growth.

A stress story is the meaning you apply to a situation. It’s your interpretation or belief of the event. Pay attention to the emotional response this brings up for you, and record this under “emotion/response.” This sequence is your default reaction to a stressful event.

What happens when you get cut off in traffic or someone you are meeting with starts checking their emails? Pay attention to the spike of emotion or the knee-jerk thoughts, and become aware that it’s causing an emotional shift. When you can acknowledge this thought forming in real time can you loosen its hold over you!

Just because someone cuts you off is not a bad omen for the rest of the day, and because someone checks her email doesn’t mean they’re bored with you.

Now, what if you changed the story? By redefining the event and reframing your stress story, you can generate a new type of emotional response. Step outside your typical way of thinking and come up with a new stress story that seeks the potential for positivity. Write this in the “new story” box. Then, reflecting on it, notice your emotional response and record it under “new emotion/response.”

Use the following chart to record stressful situations you encounter this week. List them in the “day and event” box. Then fill in your “stress story” for the event.


Sunday: I ate a food that is outside my diet for managing symptoms.

Stress story: I found out there was garlic in my meal. I’m not supposed to have garlic since I’m on a restricted diet. I’m worried that I have reversed the progress I’ve made.

• Emotion/response: Worry, anxiety, black-and-white thinking that this is erasing all my progress.

New story: I’ve been making great progress with my health and symptom management this month. I can’t change the fact that I ate garlic, and I may feel poorly for a bit, but this will pass and I know what can help me get through it. This experience taught me what to look for next time so I don’t make this same mistake again.

• New emotion/response: Optimism, reframing as a minor setback.

Use the following in a journal or on your phone notes (or however you like to record thoughts and feelings) and see if you can find relief from a reoccurring stressor in your life. It certainly doesn’t need to involve food or diet. It can be any situation in which you feel stress.


Stress story:

• Emotion/response:

New story:

• New emotion/response:


Stress story:

• Emotion/response:

New story:

• New emotion/response:

This is an introductory exercise that would be used in our coaching session (if this situation arose) and is a small example of how a health coach can implement change in your life.

Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!


I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and am a National Board Certified Health Coach. I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. Learn more about my training and my unique approach to health coaching on my website or social platforms!

In Health, and Mindfulness,


©2019, 2020 Integrative Nutrition, LLC. | Some excerpts reprinted with permission



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