Chapter 7 - How Do You React To Stress?How do you react to stress? Do you fly off
the handle? Do you get an upset stomach? Do you rush to the nearest bar to grab a drink?
You cannot control the all of the stress in your life. There are some things that you can eliminate, such as
negative people or a job that drives you crazy, but for the most part, you are at the mercy of the rest of the
Most mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders that are the result of stress, are related to control, or lack
of control. When we feel as though our environment is out of control, it can be very disconcerting. Once we realize
that we cannot possibly control everything in life, we can then start to learn to live.
Realizing that we are not in control of everything can take a lifetime and is something that some people can
never quite “get.” The idea of being unable to control everything around us is so frightening that many of us spend
a good portion of our life trying to dismiss this idea. As babies, we thrive on feeling secure and the idea that we
are not in control conflicts with that sense of security. When we have conflicts in our life, it causes stress. How
we choose to react to stress is entirely up to us.
While you may not control the stressors entering your life, you can control how you react to stress. Your
reactions are one of the only things that you can control as you cannot control the actions of other individuals
nor everything that happens in life.
You can choose to react to stress in a negative way, such as taking a swig of whiskey, or you can react in a
positive way, such as cleaning the kitchen floor. With one way, you are bound to spend money and time and wake up
with a headache. The other will cost you nothing but time and in the morning, you will have a sparkling
floor.Negative reactions to stress include:
Drinking, drug use, being unable to get out of bed, having a panic attack, abusing a family member or even an
animal, abusing prescription drugs, promiscuous sex, and compulsive behaviors such as gambling or over
spending.Positive reactions to stress include:
Exercising, practicing yoga, meditating, cleaning, breathing techniques, talking your problems out with a therapist
or friend, listening to calming music or even counting.
You can choose to react to stress in a negative way or in a positive way, it is all up to you. This is the only
choice that you have when it comes to most stress.
Think about a stressful situation that you have in your life at the moment. If you are like most people, you
will not have to think for long as most of us have some sort of stress in our lives. Think carefully about the
stress. Write it on a piece of paper.
Is this stress something that you can control? Is it something that you can do without? If the stress is
something that you can eliminate from your life, why are you not ridding yourself of this stress?If the stress
is something that you cannot control, how are you reacting to the stress. Are your reactions negative or positive.
For example, suppose the one thing in your life that is “stressing you out” is that you are worried about money.
Most of us worry about money at one time or another, so this is not an usual stressor.Is this something that
you can control? To an extent. One way to alleviate the stress is to look for a better job or a second job so you
can earn more money.
What if you cannot control this problem? Suppose you cannot find another job? How should you react to the stress in
If you react negatively by drinking or taking drugs, do you think that will earn you more money? Perhaps if you
do something physical, you can not only alleviate the stress but also actually make some money.
Anne was always worried about money. She would “stress out” about it quite a bit. In her small town, there was
little opportunity. She had a job, but she barely got by. She could never see a way out of her rut and this
bothered her a great deal. She worried that if some catastrophic event occurred, she would be broke. How would she
live? How would she pay the rent and be able to eat?
Anne could have reacted to her stress in a negative manner. Actually, she did do that for quite some time. She
went to the doctor and was prescribed tranquilizers. These were soothing and her insurance covered the cost of the
When the insurance at work changed, however, the prescription for the tranquilizers was no longer covered.
Fortunately for Anne, she had a doctor who understood her situation and helped her wean herself off of the
tranquilizers. He then suggested some exercises to relieve Anne’s stress that have been mentioned in this book.
Instead of popping pills, Anne began to write. She enjoyed writing so much that she began submitting stories and
articles on different sites on the internet. This took her mind off of her problems and allowed her to express
herself creatively. One day, she got an offer of $10 for one of her stories.
Pretty soon, Anne was writing in her spare time and earning extra money. It wasn’t long before she had a nice
nest egg stashed away and the stress about money was far behind. By choosing to react to her stress in a positive
manner, she not only controlled her stress, but ended up eliminating the stress.
Choose to react to your stress in a positive manner instead of in a negative way and you will achieve positive
results. Choose to react in a negative manner and you will begin down the route of self destruction.