Stress from Positive Change Requires Self-Care for PTSD Too

December 28, 2017 Tia Hollowood

Positive changes create stress too. If you're in PTSD recovery, identifying positive stress vs negative stress is important to your mental health. Learn more.Understanding how stress from positive change adds to our stress load improves our self-care and helps us stay on the path to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery. While the word "stress" applies to life-altering situations like traumatic or stressful events as often as it pertains to a long to-do list, it is not typically associated with times when things are good. However, positive change and stress do exist together and it helps people with PTSD to recognize them when they occur.

Positive Change Creates Stress

Positive change creates stress--change of any kind can create stress. As demonstrated by this Online Stress Test, many situations typically viewed as positive changes directly increase the amount of stress a person is experiencing overall. A new job, a new car, or moving to a safer neighborhood are all significant changes for most people; and while generally considered beneficial, they bring challenges, unknowns, and adjustments that can create stressful feelings.

For individuals with PTSD, recognizing the impact of even the most positive of changes helps manage stress-related symptoms and challenges.

How to Recognize Stress Related to Positive Change

In this video, I discuss the importance of recognizing how positive events can add to our overall feelings of stress and how acknowledging them as stressors can help us to reduce the amount of worry they create. Once we understand where the pressure is coming from, we can make changes, ask for help, or choose to delay other significant changes until we've worked our way through some of the current ones.

Please feel free to comment on your experiences with stressors. Have positive changes ever created stressful situations for you? How did you handle them? I look forward to your responses.


Stress Effects. (2017, January 04). Retrieved December 27, 2017, from

APA Reference
Hollowood, T. (2017, December 28). Stress from Positive Change Requires Self-Care for PTSD Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

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Michelle Tasa
December, 31 2020 at 3:35 pm

I sooo needed this message today. I haven’t been able to figure out what is driving my frenetic urgency to accomplish a zillion things right this minute, knowing that I need to chill out in order to avoid a crash and burn. Yes, it’s positive stress sending me into a tailspin. Thank you.

December, 30 2017 at 4:05 pm

For me it’s that fear of the unknown and always expecting the next shoe to fall. It’s been that way for far too long now, and as positive as I try to be about anything possibly happening for the better, I find myself clinging to the anxiety and depression that’s always been telling me otherwise. I HAVE made a few noticeable improvements when I look back over this year. I’m very happy about that as small as some have been, but it’s been such a long hard road totally alone other than a Dr and a counselor, but I’ve had no family support for a very long time. That hurt doesn’t go away, when being accused of making up illnesses to avoid my family. They don’t even know of the trauma I’ve been through the last several years and being diagnosed with C-PTSD. They don’t get depression, how would they ever try to understand that, and why?
My family has been my biggest heartbreak and having been through so much alone for so long now,,I don’t see that’ ever changing. Which is a very sad outlook for me. But even with that I have seen small strides I’ve accomplished alone, so I’m trying to keep moving forward slowly instead of fearing the good things that may come. Thanks for this. It makes a lot of sense.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 31 2017 at 11:04 am

Hi Nancy,
Thanks for sharing this. I understand how difficult it is to heal, to figure things out for yourself and to juggle family as well. It can be frightening and disappointing to approach family about our mental health.
I grew up in a family and community culture that treated mental illness as taboo. They were weaknesses, shortcomings. I won't pretend it was easy to get my family to understand. It took a long time and much more honesty than I felt comfortable with at first. It was tough to give my family members a picture complete enough that they could understand what had happened to me and what I was really going through.
It doesn't happen overnight, just as our healing takes time, so does our family's understanding. Don't give up. Remember our small successes are what combine to make the big ones. Tia

Lizanne Corbit
December, 28 2017 at 7:11 am

Thank you for sharing this! I think this is such an amazing point to discuss. So often we think of stress and change as only being associated with perceived negative/challenging changes but the good ones can bring just as much stress in their own way. We have expectations, fears, and worries. I think this is so key - "Once we understand where the pressure is coming from, we can make changes, ask for help, or choose to delay other significant changes until we’ve worked our way through some of the current ones." We must identify, acknowledge to truly try and understand.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 28 2017 at 12:52 pm

Thank you Lizanne. I had never been in the habit of thinking how much stress something positive could be until I had a counselor point it out. Explains why I'm just as happy to be home after a vacation as I am to leave for one.

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