Stress Series: Responding to Stressors

For many of us, identifying the stressors in life that cause headaches, tense muscles, anxiety, and overall stress are no mystery. Common stress triggers include finances, job stress, relationship troubles, and family pressure. Having too much on one’s plate, too little down time, and practicing unhealthy habits are also common stressors. Identifying stressors is only the first step – what is perhaps most important is learn how to properly, healthily respond to these stressors. Learning to effectively respond to the triggers that cause your stress is the most important factor for addressing it. Unfortunately, many stress management strategies barely touch upon this. So let’s take a closer look.


Whether it’s your job, your In-laws, or your finances – there’s always stressors that can push your buttons. No matter what you may do in life, there will always be a time when stressors become present and ignite reactions that make you feel stressed. Try as we might, there is simply no way to completely and permanently eliminate all stressors from life. Your body will naturally react to stress as a defense/survival mechanism – a biological/evolutionary fact that we have covered in other articles in the stress series.

In small doses, our bodies’ natural reaction to stress is meant to put the body into hyperdrive and solve the issue. Elevated heart rate, increased focus, and so on. If the stress doesn’t abate, however, the reaction turns negative. Stress can manifest itself in various ways – from nausea, to migraines, and even to chronic disease. When you’ve identified what some of your main triggers are, the crucial factor is how you deal with them.

A reaction is how many people reply to a stressor – panic, anxiety, depression – these are all reactions. This is what causes your body and emotions to take over, which can be detrimental to your overall health. So rather than reacting, you must learn how to develop a response.


When a stressor is present and you can feel the onset of stress, your mind instantly becomes flustered, and your body follows suit with a reaction. A response on the other hand, is a calm assessment of what needs to change. So rather than instantly reacting, instead, allow yourself – or train yourself, with the help of a qualified therapist – to take a deep breath and moment to calm down and assess the situation. This allows self-control and clarity to take the reigns and gauge the situation so that you can respond, effectively. If you feel the situation requires a change – whether it’s a change of scenery, ending a relationship, or change of employment – choosing a response over a reaction will provide you with clarity for making the best decision for you.
Reactions enable us to lose control of our stress and let our bodies take over the reigns. So the next time you recognize or identify something that is triggering your stress, take a moment to calmly assess the situation so that you can effectively develop a response that will benefit you and address what you may need to change.

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