Our Response to Change Can Be
A Main Cause of Stress

Change, is often considered a main cause of stress. Yet it can not be avoided. Change and stress are part of life.

Look at the natural world and you will see
ongoing change.
The seasons change, the tides change, the earth turns. Beings are born, they live for awhile, and they leave.The changes are continuous.

But maintaining a positive attitude toward change and avoiding excessive change can make a big difference.

How We Adapt To Change

Hans Selye discovered that our attitude toward change is important. Even changes we consider joyful create a type of stress response. He called this eustress.

Changes we are upset about can create a different type of stress response which Selye called distress.

Selye found that eustress is healthier for our bodies than distress.

Walter Cannon is another pioneer in our understanding of stress. He found that we adapt to change through a process he called homeostasis. Homeostasis describes the body's natural tendency to maintain balance and stability even in the midst of change. This is essential in biological systems. Homeostasis is required for health.

If excessive change overwhelms our homeostatic mechanisms, then our bodies can not maintain the required stability for health.

Change Requires Us To Adapt and Grow

Change is going to happen in our lives.  It challenges us to adapt. We may have to:

  • reorganize our lives, or
  • learn new skills, or
  • make new relationships, or
  • create new habits, or
  • change our ideas and beliefs.

The Following Life Changes are Usually Experienced as a Main Cause of Stress:

These events often require major change and adaptation in our life:

  • Getting married or divorced,
  • Having a child,
  • Death of a loved one or close family member,
  • Having a serious health challenge,
  • Serious illness of a loved one or close family member,
  • Loss of job or profession,
  • Starting a new job or profession,
  • Loss of money or prestige,
  • Moving to a different house or city.

Adapting to Change is Easier
When We Are Emotionally Peaceful

Hans Selye recommends that we "do not put up resistance in vain."

By peacefully accepting unavoidable changes we can reduce their negative impact. This is an important strategy for minimizing change as a main cause of stress.

This idea is expressed in the Serenity Prayer used in many
12 Step Recovery Programs and Groups.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom
to know the difference.”

Some Changes Are Very Good

Although our response to change is commonly a main cause of stress, change is necessary for achieving our goals.
When we accept the necessity to change, we can more easily take the steps required to adapt, grow and fulfill our potential.

Our Lifestyle Choices Can Help Us
Adapt To Change

These 6 simple habits can help us avoid excessive change, increase our inner stability and help to reduce the chronic stress in our lives:

  1. keep a regular daily and weekly schedule,
  2. get up at the same time every day,
  3. go to bed at the same time every day,
  4. eat meals at the same times every day,
  5. eat simple easily digestible foods that our bodies are familiar with, and
  6. exercise daily.

There are additional Healthy lifestyle choices we can make to gain more energy, strength and resilience. Healthy habits enable us to meet life’s inevitable challenges more easily. They help reduce the negative impact of all major types of stress and common causes of stress. They help with stress prevention.

Wander through this website and you may find some ideas and suggestions which are just perfect for you.

Read more about the biggest causes of stress, or,

explore the many stress relief resources on Gentle Stress Relief home page.


Selye, Hans. “The Nature of Stress.” http://www.icnr.com/articles/thenatureofstress.html


(2008). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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