What is the Difference Between a ‘Stress Reaction’ and a ‘Stress Response’?

What is the Difference Between a ‘Stress Reaction’ and a ‘Stress Response’?

In our every day life, we find ourselves in a variety of different situations. Sometimes these situations can be quite stressful and we develop a range coping techniques to deal with situations.

Without realising, some coping mechanisms we use occur automatically (unconsciously) and are termed a stress reaction. These reactions are often learned from past experiences and cover up our vulnerability. Generally when we react, the situation that happened is not acknowledged (i.e. we habitually react).

A stress response on the other hand, acknowledges what is happening in the present moment, allows the feelings/emotions to be there as well as develop tools to work with them. When we work with stress mindfully, we gradually start to see the habitual patterns of unawareness that are associated with stress reactions and begin to find new ways of dealing with it and transforming it. It is like bringing light in to the darkness of mindless reactions, which can lead you to choosing your responses to situations instead or reacting.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl

If you would like to read more about this, please have a look at the book – Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.


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