Using positive reframing to help yourself feel better

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator and Inspire Improvement Fellowship Lead

This week my family and I have decided to spend the Christmas period apart. This is for many different reasons, but mainly because we want to keep everyone safe from Covid 19.

Despite making this decision, it will be the first time we have been apart since the start of our family, I was left feeling very bereft. When I shared this with a colleague, she helped me think differently about how the Christmas holiday period could be. She helped me positively reframe how I was thinking and this helped me feel so much better about the whole situation.

‘Positive reframing’ is an important element of the Resilience Based Clinical Supervision (RBCS) model along with challenging the ‘inner critic’ or any negative thinking that we may find ourselves doing.  RBCS is a unique model of clinical supervision that is based on a compassionate focused therapy approach and is about being compassionate to ourselves and others. It combines elements of mindfulness with helping people to understand and recognise their emotions and how strongly our thoughts are connected to our feelings. Positive thoughts give rise to happy, connected emotions whereas negative thoughts result in sad and depressive emotions. Basically, the quality of our thinking affects the emotions we experience and consequently our physical health.

We discovered this website, which has some exercises to download that can help you to practice reframing situations either on your own or with the help of another person.

One exercise talks about taking a four-step approach to reframing:

  • Accept the uncontrollable
  • Focus on the controllable
  • Acknowledge and apply your strengths
  • Find/use positives


Another gives examples of how to positively reframe for example:

‘There is too much to do and not enough time’

Reframe: ‘If I take a deep breath and write a list and tackle one thing at a time’


This is how my colleague helped me reframe the Christmas situation:

My thoughts: ‘I can’t see my family’

Reframing: ‘Let’s think about it as some time off work, to take some walks in the countryside and by the sea’

This reframing also takes me through the four-step approach:

  • I can’t control the COVID pandemic
  • I can control my behaviour to keep people safe
  • I live in a beautiful part of the UK
  • Some time out and spending time in nature is an opportunity

So, can I encourage you to have a go at positively reframing your thoughts? This requires practice and regular attention to, but the more you practice, the better you will feel. If you would like to know more about the RBCS resources, you can find them hereClinical Supervision Resources (

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