Strategies of Coping Stress

Whatever may be the causes for stress, but it lays bad effect on the emotional and physiological health of man. Hence psychologists have thought seriously on the strategies of coping it. Reducing the related behavior of stress is called coping behavior. Coping behavior has been defined by the psychologists in different ways, as – Goodstein and Lanyon (1975) have defined the coping behavior in this way:
“By coping we mean the degree to which individuals are able to meet and master at least three kinds of challenges to their existence: (1) direct challenges from the physical environment (2) challenges stemming from their physical limitation (3) interpersonal challenges.” Lazarus and Launier (1978) have defined this behavior in this way- “Coping consists of efforts, both action-oriented and intrapsychic, to manage, (that is master, tolerate, reduce, minimize) environmental and internal demands and conflicts among them.” According to Wood & Wood – “Coping refers to person efforts through action and thought to deal with demands perceived as taxing or overwhelming.”

After analyzing the above definition, many characteristics of coping behavior are highlighted, which are following:

  • Coping behavior is not an active behavior of any time, which is done between the demands of man and environment, but there is an internal process, that moves continuously between its sources, values and demand till a special time. Hence it is process and strategy. 
  • Coping behavior includes many types of actions and reactions, done towards the stressful stimulus and situations.
  • In this way, in the coping behavior, a man arranges three types of factors as- demand of environment, physical limitation and internal individual challenges with his sources and values in this way that they could not affect man more.
  • Coping behavior is effortful. It does not happen itself.
  • Coping behavior is a learnt behavior.
According to Lazarus and Folkman, 1984- all these strategies can be divided into two part:

1. Problem–Focused Coping Strategies—In this type of strategies, man evaluates the stressful situation and problem. And does some strategies, in which he could gain success by changing it or by removing it. man uses such strategies when he sees that problem, which is producing stress, is not very serious or he could change the nature of this problem, in this strategy, problem which is producing stress, after making it clear man defines it, then he searches it alternative solution, and evaluates them in the form of coming lose and benefit of all those solutions. And selecting correct alternative gives it work form. How much does a man give work to these series strategies properly, it is depended on his past experiences, intellectual capability and the capability of self control. In this way a man tries to make the stress less by changing the nature of experience. Here specially following strategies have been successful.

  1. Confrontational Coping—In these types of coping strategies, a man faces the problem by standing in front of problem. And tries to resolve it. As, any officer is angry with his under officer and he threatens him for firing, he will know the cause of his firing by standing in front of his officer. What is his defect? Will he try to take his officer in believe so that he could change his thought? Holhan and Moos, (1987) on the basis of their study, they said that the method of confrontation proves more useful than the method of avoidance. The man who tries to resolve the problem, they not only resolve the problem properly but also develop the capability of facing the problem emotionally with the stressful situation in the coming time. It has been explained from the researches done by Felton (1984) the men who use avoidance method more for facing the stressful situation, there is more possibility of arising stress in them and along with health problem also produce in them, but avoidance is not a bad method in the form of behavior coping. When man faces less stress, he could resolve it by adapting avoidance method. In this method, man makes himself separate from that stressful situation.
  2. Social Support—How does a man face with the stressful situation, it is not only depended on the internal sources but also external sources means it is depended on his social support. Cobb (1976) has said defining the situation of social support that it means by that special information, in which man is liked by other men, respected by other, given importance by other and cared him by other. When any man feels the social support of other men, he faces to stressful situation properly and his health relative can be as his uncle, aunt, maternal uncle or maternal aunt and any club organization or political party.
It has been explained from the researches of House, 1981, Schafer and their companions that the different version of social support can be divided into three categories: tangible assistance, information and emotional support. In the tangible assistance, tangible things are given to man as money, , food or other related things so that he may face the stress , in the information method, some thoughts are provided to man by other men by which he could face the stressful situation easily. Emotional support, that is the most important source of facing stressful situation in the form of social support. In this family, friends or neighbor behave in this manner as they are with him for facing the problem.

It has been cleared by the study of Cohen and Wills, 1985 that social support helps in reducing pain which is produced by the stressful situation. Kulik (1989) has said this on the basis of his study, there is less possibility of having any disease with the social support. And man recovers soon from any disease. And there is no possibility of dying with the dangerous disease. Berkman and Syme , 1979 have told 7000 men, who were living in California, for sharing about their social and group relation, in their one study. And they were asked to share about the mortality rate of their family in the last seven years. It is seen in the result that the men who have good social relationship, their mortality rate was less than the men, who have not good social and group relation. It is also found that the men, who meet with others, good habits also develop in them by social circle. 

Under problem-focused strategy there are some strategy in which the focus of man does not towards the changing the nature of problem but goes towards him self. In it man tries to bring changes in the level of aspiration. He searches for alternative sources and learns new skill. With the help of these strategies, the stress of man can be coped properly.

2. Emotion-Focus Coping Strategy—In this type of strategy, man focuses on the emotional response aroused by problem. In this strategy man does not try to change the nature of problem but tries to cope the anxiety aroused by problem. These strategies are used where man feels that the problem, that is arising stress, is so much serious, that it cannot be changed and the stress is arising in man in great quantity. Under it two types of strategies are described:

  • Behavior Strategy—In this strategy, stress can be coped by doing different kinds of behavior. as- he focuses on another things by moving away his focus from the problem, the man who starts to take alcohol and cigarette in great quantity, and he does work by making schedule of the works, which is done by him every day. The advantage of it that man does not feel obstacle in such works which can be obstacles in his main traits.
  • Cognitive Strategy—In this strategy, man tries to control stress by changing the meaning of stressful situation. In this way man does here reappraisal to the stressful situation. This reappraisal is real. Where a man finds this conclusion after thinking seriously that in fact the problem was not so much serious. Meichambaunm has called this problem cognitive restructuring. But sometimes we make reality distort by doing so, and deceive ourselves in a different way. Such cognitive strategy is called by Freud a defense mechanism, in which seven if following:
    1. Repression—In which anxiety, memory etc, which is aroused from the stressful problem, goes into unconscious mind from conscious mind, because they are mentally painful. It is called repression process, which is different from suppression where a man knowingly keeps away the memory and desires that aroused anxiety from the conscious mind, so that he could focus on other factor. Man does not know his desires and memories in repression, while in suppression, man knows that which desires and memories are kept away from him.
    2. Reaction Formation—In which man tries to control stress by developing quite opposite desires and thoughts from the desires and thoughts that aroused stress in man, as- a leader worried with corruption copes his stress by giving speech against corruption.
    3. Rationalization—In which a man moves away from his stress and satisfy himself by changing his irrational behavior or thoughts into rational behavior. In this way rationalization completes two motives of man. First when he enables to achieve goal, rationalization copes the seriousness of stress, produced from frustration and it provides acceptable motive for the behavior that is done by man. As- one student can make this rationalization not reaching in the examination hall at the correct time that his room-mate did not awake him at the proper time. here student tries to remove the stress of not reaching examination hall by the medium of rationalization behavior. it is possible that his friend did not awake him at the proper time but reaching the examination hall at correct time is his responsibility not his friend.
    4. Projection—In these types of defense mechanism, man blames on others for his mistakes and failures for removing his stress and in this way he makes himself free from the faults, which create peace and satisfaction in him. Really projection is like rationalization, but its importance is different, because it is mostly used in our society. After getting failure in the examination, student tries to cope his stress by saying this that teacher did not teach him properly or his he was kept busy during the period of examination, by thinking in this way he did not find himself guilty and his stress is reduced. 
    5. Displacement—Displacement is also an important cognitive defense mechanism by which a man can reduce his stress, in which stress aroused by painful motives and conflict is displacement by fundamental things, which produce painful motives and conflicts is reduces by the displacement towards unrelated things or situation. As- the boy , who is beaten by his parents copes his stress by beating his younger brother, it is the example of displacement it is identified in the displacement man copes his stress by doing react towards that things and man, which is seen him less dangerous and less fearful.
    6. Denial—When external reality is more painful and dangerous that man cannot tolerate it, he removes tension by denying the existence of that reality, as- the parent of the child, who is seriously ill, reduce his stress by thinking that his child is out of danger, while they know the outcome of the illness.
    7. Intellectualization—Intellectualization is such a defensive mechanism, in which man develops detachment by thinking in an abstract way about the stressful situation, by which he reduces his tension. As- a doctor who always fights with the life of patient, seeing their situation stress is produced in them, but not showing emotionally enrolment towards them the develop a different kinds of detachment, by which their stress is reduced and they get success in the treatment of patients.
It was identified that many strategies had been described for coping the seriousness of stress, yet all these strategy do not get success in its motives because the seriousness of stress has affected badly most of the men of the society, that their emotional and physiological health is affecting badly day by day. Hence psychologists have taken all this in a challenging way.

It has been known from the new researches that there are temporal aspects of coping behavior. Man can cope stress after arising it. Beehr and Mc Grath, 1996 have described such five situations, which create special temporal context, in which man does coping behavior:

  • Preventing Coping—This is such a coping behavior, which is started very early by men from the event of arising stress, as- smoker gives up smoking by the thought of keeping away from the danger of lungs cancer, it is accepted as the example of preventive coping.
  • Anticipatory Coping—When man does coping behavior that stressful event is happening at once, such coping behavior is called anticipatory coping. If man takes tranquilizer at once with the guess, that surgery is done by doctor at once, this coping behavior is called anticipatory coping.
  • Dynamic Coping—This type of behavior is done by man when he is going through stressful situation. As – when a man pays his attention on other thing for the thought of coping his pain, it is called dynamic coping.
  • Reactive Coping—Man accepts this type behavior after the event, which aroused stress, as a man adjusts with his life by bringing some changes in life style after losing his one foot. Then it will be called reactive coping.
  • Residual Coping—This is such a coping behavior which is used by man to face the deep effect of stress of event which has produced long time ago, as after a long time of happening traumatic event, a man can adjust with the event by controlling his fearful rumination about that event.
It has been cleared that there are different aspects of coping behavior, which are very useful. Now It is known by new study that men and women show different behavior from one another in the selection of coping strategies. It has been identified by the studies that problem focused coping strategies is mostly used by men, while emotion focus strategy used by women, in which it is tried to get the social aid by other people. It has been cleared by the studies of Ptacek, Smith and Dodge (1994) that the main reason of it from the starting of life men and women are taught to follow the different way to face the stress, but this conclusion comes under doubt by the study of Porter and Stone (1995), because it is found in their study that the thoughts felt by men and women are less different from each other , or which strategies they follow to face the stress, are less different among themselves. There is difference in both of them in the thought of content. Work related stress is more told by men. And self related problems as parent related problem and problems which are related to the internal action with other people are always told by women, it is also find out by the study that coping strategy is also affected by culture. Chang, 1996 did an experiment in which specially thought on this fact that is there any differences in the thoughts of optimist and pessimist and coping strategies between Asian and European students, Or not. It is seen in the result that Asian students were most optimists comparatively and they used more coping strategies of problem avoidance and social withdrawal.
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