Updated: Jul 15
We cannot avoid being thrown into stressful situations in life, but we can control and constantly improve on how we cope with stress. We have all developed our own ways of coping with stressful situations. But have you ever wondered whether the way you cope is healthy? Do you want to improve your ways of coping?
After reading this post, you will understand what are good and bad ways of coping. Hopefully this will provide you new tools to help you better cope with the next stressful thing that comes up in your life!
Recent research (Wang et al., 2020) suggests increasing the variety of different coping strategies that can benefit our mental well-being and even protect us from depression. Inspired by this finding, I provide you a summary of a range of different coping styles people engage in (Connor-Smith & Flachsbart, 2007).
Let's start with coping styles that are not so helpful.
Maladaptive Coping Styles
✘ Negative emotion-focused - you lose control, you start throwing things onto the floor, cry and/or yell at others.
✘ Avoidance - You try to avoid the problem and even avoid thinking about it.
✘ Denial - You hide your emotional responses to the problem and deny that there's a problem.
✘ Wishful thinking - You hope the stress just disappears and you fantasize about unlikely outcomes.
✘ Withdrawal - You isolate yourself and do not share your problems and emotions with others.
✘ Substance use - You use alcohol and other drugs specifically to cope with stress.
Next time you catch yourself engaging in one of these maladaptive coping styles mentioned above, try switching to one of these adaptive coping styles:
Adaptive Coping Styles
❤ Instrumental support - You seek help, advice and resources from others.
❤ Emotional support - You seek empathy and understanding from others.
❤ Problem solving - You try to directly solve the problem by making a plan, generating possible solutions and evaluating your options.
❤ Acceptance - You accept and understand that certain aspects of the situation cannot be changed and learn to live with the situation.
❤ Cognitive restructuring - You find a different perspective of looking at the problem at hand. You look on the positive side and think of any benefits arising from the situation (e.g. personal growth).
❤ Distraction - You engage in a fun activity, giving yourself a temporary break from the stressful situation.
Now that you learned all these coping strategies, next time you are stressed, try using one of the new adaptive coping strategies that you haven't tried before! You are also encouraged to try use as many types of adaptive coping strategies as you can to find which one works the best for you! Leave a comment or message me how these strategies helped you cope with stress.
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Connor-Smith, J. K., & Flachsbart, C. (2007). Relations between personality and coping: a meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(6), 1080.
Wang, X., Blain, S. D., & Liu, Y. (2020). Variability in emotion regulation strategy use is negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Cognition and Emotion. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2020.1840337