Shifting Perspectives: From General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) to General Adaptation Process (GAP)

Tom Meyers
4 min readApr 4, 2024

Fast-changing times necessitate new concepts to navigate the evolving health and wellbeing challenges they bring.

In an era marked by rapid changes and unprecedented challenges, where technology is ever more present, our approach to health and wellbeing to flourish and thrive, necessitates rethinking. This includes the rethinking of our foundational models. Do these models still serve us, or do they need revision?

For example, the traditional concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), introduced by Hans Selye (1950), has long served as a foundational model in understanding stress and its effects on the human body. GAS outlines a three-stage reaction to stress: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. While these stages haven’t changed, I believe as we navigate the complexities of modern life, wouldn’t a more positive, dynamic and proactive term or designation be more constructive? This article reflects on the benefits of transitioning from GAS to the General Adaptation Process (GAP) as a more fitting model when talking about stress.

Understanding the Limitations of GAS

With GAS stress is presented as a linear, somewhat predictable process with a clear endpoint. While this model has significantly advanced our understanding of stress-related illnesses and the body’s response mechanisms, I feel it falls short in encapsulating the fluidity and variability of human experiences with stress in the 21st century. The designation of “syndrome” provokes in me that it is a pathological condition, potentially overshadowing the adaptive and positive aspects of dealing with stressors. Stress is after all essential to adapt and manage change and is not per se the problem. That the stress response hasn’t evolved at the same speed as the challenges we created, and the physical reaction it engendered due to our increasing biological footprint (see my previous article) and that it is triggered for things it doesn’t need to, that is the true issue we need to focus on.

Introducing the General Adaptation Process (GAP)

Instead of GAS, I propose another way of saying the same thing but with a more positive and constructive connotation, f the General Adaptation Process (GAP). Using the process instead of syndrome means the stress response is seen not as a finite sequence of stages but as an ongoing, cyclical process of learning, growth, and resilience-building. This shift in terminology from “syndrome” to “process” can also reflect a more nuanced understanding of how individuals interact with, adapt to, and recover from stressors over time. GAP embraces the complexity of these interactions, recognising them as integral to personal development and wellbeing.

Embracing Complexity and Individuality

As each individual’s encounter with stress is unique, influenced by a myriad of genetic, environmental, and personal factors, it is maybe also a good idea to move away from the more static model GAS represents. I feel that GAP allows for a more personalised understanding of stress, emphasising the importance of individual pathways to resilience and adaptation.

Highlighting the Dynamic Nature of Adaptation

By viewing adaptation as a process, GAP accentuates the dynamic and ever-changing nature of how we respond to life’s challenges. It encourages proactive engagement with stressors, highlighting the capacity for learning and growth inherent in each stress encounter. This perspective fosters a more optimistic outlook on stress, seeing it as an opportunity for personal development rather than solely a risk factor for disease.

Encouraging an Integral Approach

For me, GAP promotes a more integral approach to stress management, integrating physical, psychological, and social strategies. This encompasses a broad range of practices, from physical activity and nutrition, social support to creating a DNA for your future to futurize yourself, underscoring the multifaceted nature of effective adaptation.
I also believe that GAP offers a more positive approach for individuals to conquer setbacks and will help them in the process of emerging from challenging situations with increased strength, skills, and wellbeing. By focusing on the process of adaptation, GAP emphasises the potential for positive transformation through the experience of stress.


As we face new and complex challenges in health and wellbeing, adopting the General Adaptation Process as term or designation offers a more empowering and comprehensive framework for understanding and managing stress. Shifting from seeing stress as a syndrome to a process not only reflects a deeper understanding of the nuances of human adaptation but also aligns with a proactive and optimistic approach to life’s challenges. This shift encourages individuals to embrace the journey of adaptation as an opportunity for growth, resilience-building, and ultimately, a more fulfilling life. In doing so, we acknowledge that the path to wellness is not merely about surviving stress but thriving through it, harnessing our experiences to foster a richer, more adaptive existence.

Does the “General Adaptation Syndrome“ need revisiting? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.




Tom Meyers

Tom Meyers is an osteopath M.Sc. D.0., Founder the Reaset Approach, Author Futurize Yourself & The Futures Effect