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 and reactive responses.

First, the proactive approach. Proactive approaches involve modifying your behavior or mindset before the stressful situation has occurred.

To illustrate, let’s imagine you are moving—typically a pretty stressful event!

Healthy proactive responses would include:

  • Making a plan for moving day,
  • Gathering all packing supplies in one area in advance,
  • Asking friends and family for help with packing, moving or unpacking,
  • Carefully labeling boxes with their contents and room destination in your new home,
  • Making a floor plan with furniture placement to help the movers unload quickly,
  • Hiring a cleaner to prepare your new home and clean your old one,
  • Arranging child care for moving day, and
  • Buying snacks and beverages for any friends who come to help.

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

Healthy reactive responses would include:

  • Playing your favorite music to ease the workload,
  • Taking rest breaks when you need to,
  • Stopping at regular intervals for food, water and the loo breaks,
  • Celebrating every little step forward,
  • Reminding yourself that you won’t feel unsettled for long, and
  • Focusing on the positives about the move: what do you love about your new place?

Ideally, you want to practice healthy proactive AND reactive approaches.  Regardless of the stressful event, be it a move, a job transition or a health crisis, you can think through your proactive and reactive responses.  Prepare yourself ahead of time with healthy proactive strategies and use your healthy reactive strategies in the moment.

© Copyright 2012 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

About djwlifecoach

As a retired board-certified coach, author and Reiki master teacher, I continue to share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose sharing hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog and radio episodes help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. Learn more and access FREE resources at For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting, golfing and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee and Maisy Jane.
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