Should You Adopt an Active or Passive Response to Stress?

Different people deal with stress in different ways. Some start throwing themselves into work to forget about whatever might be bothering them while others take a timeout and do something fun instead. These both seem like constructive ways of dealing with stress. It all depends on how you’re feeling at the time and what you need more in life—work or relaxation.

Active and Passive Responses to Stress

There are times when people are really not able to cope with stress. In such cases, they may find themselves getting extremely active; they may throw themselves into work, but they might feel unable to accomplish anything. At other times, they may find themselves getting too passive; they may not feel like doing anything except sitting in front of the television and zoning out.

Dealing with Stress by Throwing Yourself into Work

How do you know if you’re dealing with stress in a productive way? Generally, if you’re throwing yourself into work and actually getting work done, then you’re using your stress to fuel your work. But if you feel like you’re running around all day long without getting anything accomplished by the end of the day, then you might need to deal with your stress in a different way.

Dealing with Stress by Doing Something Fun

Similarly, let’s say that you’re trying to deal with stress by doing something fun. Do you consider that “fun” thing to be something that’s helping you grow and develop as a person? Are you learning something from it? After all, going to the museum or to watch an art house film can be as much fun as watching soap operas all day long. But obviously the first two options are also instructive in some way. You’ll learn something new from them in a way that you most likely won’t from watching a soap opera.

This is not to say that you should never watch soap operas at all, but that you shouldn’t be using them to numb your mind in an unhealthy way. This won’t help you to deal with stress; instead it will aggravate your stress in the long run.