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Stress Reflex

What is Your Stress Reflex?

When you are stressed how do you typically react - Do you reach for comfort food, caffeine, alcohol or cigarette? Do you shout, scream or swear? Or is there another way that you act?

The way that you automatically react when you are feeling stressed can be called your stress reflex. It may vary for you for different types of situation and for different individuals.

Is a Stress Reflex always bad?

A stress reflex often brings negative consequences. Some of those stress reflexes highlighted above may bring temporary relief but lead to you avoiding tackling underlying problems or lead to health risks or damage relationships.

However, you may have (or you may have trained yourself to have) a stress reflex which is positive and healthy. For example, going for a run to let off steam and take your mind out of a cauldron of negative thoughts may often be a sensible thing to do to give you a bit of breathing space and help you to relax or calm down if stressed.

Changing a Stress Reflex

Reflect on how you typically act when stressed:

1. What is your stress reflex?

2. Is your stress reflex healthy? If not, continue with the questions below:

3. What would be a healthier stress reflex?

4. When you have identified a healthier stress reflex that you might be able to start using, remind yourself of it as soon as you feel stress beginning to weigh on you. Try to imagine yourself using your new healthy stress reflex and enjoying it - whether the new stress reflex be eating a healthier food, drinking a healthier drink, exercising, breathing calmly or doing something else.

5. Then use your new healthy stress reflex.

6. Practice makes perfect (or nearly perfect,since perfection is not always achievable!): Continue following steps 1-5 above until your healthy stress reflex becomes a habit that you enjoy and that comes naturally to you.


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