Coping is a process that requires effort. It is a learned pattern of how one responds to stress. It is directed at helping us manage stressful situations.
There are two types of strategies people use for coping with stress. One is problem focusing strategy, and the other is emotion focusing strategy.
The first is problem focusing strategies. It is aimed at reducing the demand of the stressful situation or expanding the resources to deal with it. It is used when the person believes that he has the resources to meet the challenge of the adjusted demand.
It involves direct confrontation with the stressor either through an overt action or through the realization of specific problem-solving activities. The focus is on how to deal with the agents that induce stress. This method involves constant appraisal and re-appraisal of the situation.
- Attack (destroying the stressor)
- Withdrawl – strategic retreat
- Seek compromise
- It also aims at taking steps to prevent future stressors
Emotion focusing strategy aims at controlling the emotional response to a stressful situation. The individual does not look for ways of changing the stressful situation. Instead, the person tries to change the feelings and thoughts about it.
This strategy aims at removing the emotional impact of stress by making them feel better even though the harmful stressor has not changed.
The first method may involve resigned acceptance, that is, coming to terms with the problem and accepting it as it is. This method is suitable when the basic circumstances of the stressor cannot be changed.
The second method is cognitive redefinition. In this people try to put up a good face in a bad situation.
The third is emotional discharge. People behave in a way that expresses their feelings or reduces their tension under stress. It includes crying, talking it out, laughing it off, etc.
Fourth is somatically focused activities. It involves drugs, drinking, etc.
Fifth is intra-psychic processes. These include cognitive strategies that involve some distortions or deception of reality to provide emotional relief, for example, defense mechanisms.
To deal with the stress and manage it properly, the judicious blending of these two types (problem-focused coping methods and emotion coping methods) is required.
If any one type applied blindly, it proves to be disastrous, although problem focusing coping methods are more rational because it identifies the problem and takes steps to remove the stress.
Many times stress can still not be combated. There are techniques developed as a result of stress research.
First is the number of relaxation methods like meditation, biofeedback, progressive relaxation techniques, and exercise.
Then there are cognitive restructuring techniques which include RET (Rational emotive technique) and SIT (Self instructional training).
Rational emotive technique – These techniques help you identify irrational beliefs that are stress-causing. For example – you have messaged someone and realize that the person has read your message but fail to reply. Negative thought patterns regarding somebody’s behavior starts causing stress. You might start to think that they do not want to talk to you etc. These techniques help you develop rational thought patterns.
Self-instructional training – Techniques that help modify maladaptive thoughts (e.g., “Everybody hates me”) and develop new skills. The main aim is to decrease impulsive behavior.
The third is behavioral techniques – Assertiveness training.
Assertiveness training – Being assertive can help in reducing stress and communicate better. When one feels too many responsibilities, being assertive and standing up for your point of view can help you express yourself effectively. It can boost your self-esteem and earn others’ respect.
It is a diplomatic way of communicating that shows you respect yourself as you want to stand up for your interests and at the same time willing to resolve conflicts. It is direct and respectful.
Too much aggressiveness and passiveness will let your message get lost as people get busy by judging the way you have delivered the message. A popular stress management technique.
The fourth method is using religion to reduce stress or Logotherapy.
Logotherapy is founded on the belief that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find life’s purpose. To be able to survive an experience, it is necessary to find meaning in life, such as a task that needed to fulfill. It can be done in three ways – creating and accomplishing a task, loving somebody, or adopting an attitude towards unavoidable suffering.
Last and not least, interpersonal therapy.
Interpersonal therapy – It explores issues in relationships and with other people. The aim is to manage relationship problems by identifying them. It can be as effective as antidepressant medications.
So which strategy are you following today to deal with your stress?