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Coping Skills: How To Beat Stress With Winning Results

How many times have you needed good coping skills, but were too overwhelmed to try? Or, felt as though you had no options in handling the matter?

What is your initial reaction to a stressful situation? Do you feel defenseless?

Shocked? Fear? Or even angry?

If the answer is yes, this post is for you!

In this article, we will discuss how to recognize a harmful response to a stressor. Then we will convert these negative coping skills into positive plans of action.

The Initial Shock Reaction

When initially confronted by an unforeseen stressor, our first reaction is usually panic and shock. We can’t believe this is happening! It is the end of life as we know it!

That is rarely the case. What we are experiencing is the adrenalin rush that comes with fear. Our natural thought process is disrupted and the brain goes into “fight or flight” syndrome.

But, instead of fighting or fleeing the stressor, try putting your energy into using these calming techniques to regain some focus. Once your racing heart slows and stroke-level blood pressure exits the danger zone, then your mind can form a coherent thought.

Now, it’s time to make a plan!

However, be aware there are certain things that must be avoided!

What Are Negative Coping Skills?

A negative mindset attempts to convince the sufferer that nothing can be done about the stressful situation. A sufferer may feel so powerless as to ask, “Why me?” or engage in negative thought patterns and behaviors.

While these unhealthy reactions may feel good in the short-term, they have negative consequences, and are only distractions. In fact, these negative reactions can make the situation even worse.

One example would be engaging in reckless behaviors that ends in harm. Another is remaining trapped in a negative mindset that results in the failure to find the right solution .

These are some examples of negative coping skills.

  • Self criticism/negative self talk
  • Risky behavior such as driving a car too fast
  • Chewing fingernails, pacing, and other nervous habits
  • Becoming aggressive or violent such as hitting, throwing things, pushing, etc.
  • Eating too much or too little or drinking a lot of caffeine/energy drinks
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Losing your temper/yelling at people around you
  • Taking recreational drugs or abusing prescription medications
  • Avoiding friends and loved ones
  • Denying the stressor exists or minimizing its significance
  • Discounting positives that are a part of the equation
  • Overgeneralizations; all or nothing thinking
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • “should have” statements

To sum it up, unhealthy behaviors are either harmful to the self or others, or they create greater, unnecessary stress for the sufferer.

Once you understand these negative behaviors, you will recognize them when they surface in the future. Then you can convert them into a positive reaction.

The Though Processes of Coping Strategies

Once your mind dismisses these negative thoughts and behaviors, it’s time to focus on the situation at hand. This means accepting the existence of the situation and your role in it.

Is there something you can do to lessen the stressor or make it go away? Apologize or talk to someone? Perform a certain task?

If the stressor cannot initially be removed or made manageable, it will require a thought-out plan of action.

Maybe, form a task force or team to combat the stressor? Does it require a loan or getting an extra job to meet a financial obligation?

To learn more, lets review the five coping strategies.

This woman needs coping skills.

Five Coping Strategies

Problem-Focused Coping

Problem-focused coping is invoked when constructive action is possible. It is directed at problem-solving or taking action to reduce or solve the problem. Problem-focused coping is also one of the most effective coping strategies since it is action based.

An example would be a bride planning a wedding and feeling overwhelmed to the point of calling it off. But, instead, she meets with her seven bridesmaids and explains the situation, requesting their help. As a result, each bridesmaid agrees to take on three duties.

This gives the bride relief and significantly reduces the problem at hand.

Emotion-Focused Coping

Emotion-focused coping focuses on reducing stress via emotional behavior. This includes wishful thinking, self-blame, self-isolating, and positive self-examination. People use emotional coping when they feel the situation will not change and must be endured.

However, when one’s behavior is self-examined and found to be compounding a problem, then adjusted accordingly, emotional coping becomes quite effective.

One example of this is a person who develops a bad attitude about going to work due to constant negative chatter of co-workers. This employee begins avoiding his work peers and stops volunteering on various projects he normally enjoys.

However, when the unhappy employee decides to become productive at work, he adopts headphones and listens to calming music while working at his desk. Then the co-workers become much less of a problem.

Social Support

Those seeking social support look to others for emotional assistance or advice in relieving stress. This means choosing a confidante or building a support network of trusted friends and family who lift you up and provide knowledgeable guidance.

Obviously, avoid those who do not value you.

This method also involves seeking counseling when needed.

An example of utilizing social support would be asking a friend out for a quiet dinner and enlisting her sage advice about how you should handle an overbearing relative.

Religious-Coping

Religious coping involves turning to one’s higher power in the face of adversity.

Studies show we tend to see the higher power in the same vein we view the father who raised us. Therefore, belief in a loving higher power who leads us from darkness into light increases the effectiveness of this coping strategy.

But, believing in a supreme power who is uncaring or wishes us harm, makes us feel powerless and angry.

An example of religious coping would be joining a church or religious organization that shares your beliefs. Then become involved in the organization’s various services or small groups.

Meaning-Making

This coping strategy involves an attempt to see the positive or meaningful aspects of a difficult situation. Understanding how a problem fits into one’s life, then successfully dealing with it, allows for personal development and growth.

This doesn’t mean one escapes pain. Instead, one grows stronger because of it.

An example of meaning-making coping would be a young woman who tragically loses a best friend in an accident. As a result, the young woman starts a non-profit organization in her friend’s memory. This helps the young woman cope with the loss, while finding meaning from her friend’s untimely passing.

All of the above coping strategies have varying degrees of success, depending on a person’s core beliefs, motivation, willingness, and external factors.

But the key factor is making a doable and positive plan of action for combatting stressors, then following through.

Below, is a list of actionable plans to help you defeat stressors in your life.

Coping Strategies deliver mindful peace.

Twenty Two Coping Strategies For Defeating Stressors

  1. Identify your triggers and plan ahead for how you will deal with future stressors. This is known as Proactive Coping.
  2. Take responsibility for the stressful situation.
  3. Making and following through with an action plan to solve your problems
  4. Get some sleep, at least eight hours. Go to bed around the same time every night. Sufficient rest allows your mind and body to better deal with stressors.
  5. Stop smoking while cutting out caffeine and alcohol. These vices further aggravate stress.
  6. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques such as visualization exercises or meditation. This frees up your mind and lowers anxiety which helps you relax and come up with new and empowering strategies in the fight against stress.
  7. Engage in regular physical activity. This lifts mood, increases confidence, and improves functional abilities.
  8. Build a strong social life and avoid isolation.
  9. Start a journal about gratitude, inspiration, personal thoughts, or whatever encourages you to open your mind, express creativity, and dump the junk rolling around in your brain.
  10. Eat healthy foods that strengthen your mind and body, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and chicken.
  11. Write, paint, or do other creative activities puts your mind in balance and helps you think more clearly.
  12. Pray or go to church
  13. Lower your expectations.
  14. Ask for help from others.
  15. Maintain emotional composure when expressing distressing emotions.
  16. Distance yourself from the source of stress, if possible.
  17. Challenge previously held beliefs that are no longer helpful.
  18.  Attempt to change the source of the stress.
  19. Take brief time outs during the day to relax.
  20. Participate in pleasurable or fun activities every day.
  21. Repeat positive affirmations and mantras. Believe in them and live them.
  22. Determine how you can grow from this experience. Look for a positive that helps you learn.

The Heart Of The Matter And Proactive Strategies

In essence, some stress is normal in our lives. However, too much stress can overwhelm an individual and cause emotional damage. The truth is, everyone is different.

Thus everyone handles stress differently.

When it comes to coping skills, what’s right for one person may not work for another. So, it’s important not to compare your reactions to those of other people.

Coping is a process that takes time. It is often slow to unfurl. Meaning it may take a while to adapt to a stressful situation or effectively deal with it.

Efficiently dealing with stress requires emotional and physical energy from the person experiencing the stressor. If a coping skill is not working, it should be examined and adjusted, or discarded and replaced by a new plan.

An action plans and our ability to adapt grows and develops over time. This is the natural process of learning and personal growth.

It is also good to plan for stressors that could occur in the future. Establishing thought patterns and coping skills now will help you handle them if they do occur. Practicing with a friend or therapist will allow it to become more natural to you.

This Proactive Coping creates feelings of empowerment and confidence. It is a strategy that builds one’s abilities and skills. Often, it aids an individual in seeing the stressor coming before it occurs.

But, one thing to remember is that overly obsessing on the future has the potential of becoming a new and unhealthy obsession. Thus, one foot strongly kept in the present is necessary when using this strategy.

Wrapping Up Coping Skills-How To-Beat Stress

In conclusion, a successful coping strategy means getting rid of negative mindsets and unhealthy reactions. Next, evaluate the stressor and its effect on you. Last, come up with a plan of action to deal with the issue.

If needed, evaluate your coping strategy as you go along to determine if changes should be made. Keeping a diary or a checklist are good tools for monitoring progress.

It is necessary to add that additional assistance is helpful if chronic stress interferes with daily activities or one’s quality of life. A mental health professional offers guidance from an objective view and can help with obtaining a better outcome.

Examples of interrupted daily activities are sleeping too much or too little, chronic lack of energy, loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy, changes in appetite, and more.

Another tip is that it is a good idea to see your doctor for a check up if you’ve been under a large amount of stress over time. Studies prove that chronic stress plays a role in heart disease, Hypertension, and other health conditions.

A medical professional can help prevent or manage these conditions before they become problematic.

The note I want to end with, is that lifestyle changes and coping skills can make an immense difference when it comes to managing stress. The important thing is to find the right way for you!

22 stressbusting coping skills

References

myhealth.alberta.ca

stress-coping-with-lifes-stressors

tips-for-coping-with-an-anxiety-disorder

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