Proactive and Reactive Responses to Stress

What’s more useful in responding to stress—a proactive or a reactive response? Actually, it’s both! What’s important is to find healthy proactive responses and healthy reactive responses. 
Proactive approaches involve modifying your behavior and perspective before the onset of a stressful situation. This is like preparing for a marathon, or practicing, etc.  

For example, imagine you’re moving across the country. That’s a pretty stressful event. Healthy proactive approaches would include extensive planning before and on moving day. 

You would likely start with de-cluttering your belongings. Carefully packing and labeling the items you want to take with you. Hiring a cleaner to prepare your new home and clean your old home. Planning for the actual moving day, including childcare and food, etc.

The other approach to managing stress is reactive. Reactive approaches involve changing your behavior or mindset during or after the initial stress has occurred. 

Using the same scenario, healthy reactive responses include taking frequent rest breaks, focusing on the positives about the move – your new home, etc.

Ideally, you want to practice healthy proactive AND reactive approaches. Prepare yourself ahead of time with proactive strategies. This in itself can give you peace of mind and feeling more in control. Then use your healthy reactive strategies in the moment.