Managing Stress with Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)

manage stress by changing your thinking
Alison Hall
Alison Hall

Try Freedom Founder and Intuitive Eating Counsellor

Managing Stress with Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) – getting rid of your ‘shoulds’, ‘oughts’, ‘musts’, ‘awfuls’ and ‘terribles’.



Stress is an inevitable part of life, and at times, it can become overwhelming, affecting our mental and physical well-being. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) is an effective therapeutic approaches to managing stress. Developed by Albert Ellis, REBT is a practical and evidence-based approach that can empower individuals to better cope with stress by challenging and changing irrational beliefs and thought patterns. In this article, we’ll explore how REBT can be a valuable tool for managing stress.

Understanding REBT

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy is a cognitive-behavioural approach that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. At its core, REBT suggests that our thoughts and beliefs (both rational and irrational) influence our emotions and, subsequently, our behaviour. By identifying and challenging irrational beliefs, REBT helps individuals replace them with more rational, constructive beliefs, leading to healthier emotional responses and behaviours.

Identifying Irrational Beliefs

The first step in applying REBT to stress management is recognising irrational beliefs. These beliefs often take the form of rigid, absolutist thinking and can contribute to stress by causing unrealistic expectations, excessive worry, and negative emotions. Common irrational beliefs include:

  1. Catastrophising:

    Assuming the worst-case scenario will happen.
  2. All-or-Nothing Thinking:

    Viewing situations as either entirely good or entirely bad with no middle ground.
  3. Should Statements:

    Imposing unrealistic demands on oneself or others, leading to guilt or frustration when these demands aren’t met.
  4. Emotional Reasoning:

    Believing that your emotions accurately reflect reality, even when they may not.

Challenging and Changing Irrational Beliefs

Once irrational beliefs are identified, REBT guides individuals in challenging and changing them. This process involves several steps:

  1. Awareness:

    Recognise when irrational beliefs are influencing your stress levels. Keep a journal to track thoughts and emotions associated with stressful situations.
  2. Disputation:

    Actively challenge irrational beliefs by questioning their accuracy and exploring more rational alternatives. Ask yourself if your beliefs are based on evidence or assumptions.
  3. Substitution:

    Replace irrational beliefs with more realistic, balanced thoughts. For example, replace “I must do everything perfectly” with “I can strive for excellence, but nobody is perfect.”

Developing Coping Strategies

REBT doesn’t stop at changing irrational beliefs; it also equips individuals with coping strategies to manage stress effectively. These strategies include:

  1. Problem-Solving:

    Instead of dwelling on problems, REBT encourages active problem-solving to address stressors constructively.
  2. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

    REBT integrates mindfulness practices and relaxation exercises to help individuals stay grounded and reduce emotional reactivity.
  3. Assertiveness Training:

    Learning to assert oneself respectfully and effectively can reduce stress stemming from interpersonal conflicts.

Enhancing Resilience

Another valuable aspect of REBT in stress management is its focus on enhancing resilience. By challenging irrational beliefs and developing coping strategies, individuals build emotional resilience, making them better equipped to handle life’s challenges. This resilience allows individuals to bounce back more quickly from stressors and reduces the overall impact of stress on their well-being.


Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn’t have to control us. Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) offers a practical and effective approach to managing stress by identifying and challenging irrational beliefs, developing coping strategies, and enhancing resilience. Through REBT, individuals can gain greater control over their emotional responses and behaviour, leading to reduced stress and improved overall well-being. If you’re struggling with stress, consider seeking the guidance of a trained REBT therapist to help you navigate the path to a more rational and less stressful life.

Help with Rational Thinking

To reduce stress to be successful in your intuitive eating journey contact Alison at Try Freedom.

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