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.