Better Ways of Coping with Stress

Think about a period of time in your life when you experienced a lot of stress. Perhaps you were starting a new job or in the middle of a romantic breakup. What strategies did you use to help manage your stress levels? Which techniques did you find the most beneficial? In some cases, you might look back on such an event and think about things you might have done differently in order to deal with the mental and physical stress in a more positive way. You might also look back and see how well certain coping methods worked, which makes it more likely that you will use those same techniques when dealing with future life stress.

Before this chapter examines some of the more efficient ways of coping with stress, let's explore a few of the most unhealthy and unproductive ways of coping with it. These may include but are not limited to drugs, alcohol, overeating, obsessive shopping, gambling, developing an addiction to television, or expressing anger toward others. While these may temporarily numb or push away feelings of stress, they may end up causing even more stress in the long run. Healthier and more beneficial ways of coping with stress involve identifying the problem and finding a solution that works.

Problem-Solving Approach

Problem-focused coping is when the problem has been determined and the person develops a plan to solve the problem. If a student is told he is about to fail a required class, he works with the professor to find ways that will help him pass the course. This is the most realistic approach to coping with stress and produces the most positive results. On occasions when natural disasters take place, such as hurricanes or tornados, the community works together to solve the stress-causing problems such as sudden homelessness and loss of clothing and food supply.

Emotional Approach

Emotion-focused coping is when a person tries to deal with the anxiety indirectly. This can involve turning to alcohol or drugs or just avoiding the situation altogether. The college student who learns he is about to fail the class approaches the situation with apathy and resolves to take the class again next semester rather than put in the effort it will immediately require to pass the class now.

One common form of emotion-focused coping is avoidance. After you've experienced a stressful situation, you might go out of your way in the future to avoid experiences that are similar.

Positive Psychology and Subjective Well-Being

A wealth of community resources has emerged as the need for them increases. Halfway houses, youth centers, crisis centers, and telephone hot lines are some examples of how the government has put a considerable amount of funding to use in treating mental health issues.

In addition, promoting your own well-being can be as easy as staying in tune with your needs and desires. Know who you are. Accept who you are. Encourage yourself. Help yourself and ask for help when it's needed. Involve yourself.

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