My intention with this post is to tell you about what a copingstrategy is. And why they excist. Where can you find them? In the supermarket? Did you know that we are born with some of these strategies? If we don´t have problems with our nervous system we will draw back our hand if burn it. Our coping strategy is to stay away from burning thingies…
I know. Staying away from burning things would probably not be called a ‘coping strategy’. But I am thinking that if we see a man with a gun, either we flee or we put up our hands in the air are a coping strategy too. We do what we need to survive.
Why do we have and need to have coping strategies?
When we are faced with a certain situations like getting a disease, one million dollars, a message that or grandma’s died or getting a new job, called stressors, we need to evaluate our abilities and our resources to manage that situation according to the coping-guru R. Lazarus (an american professor who published books and studies around the 1980’s). The situation might be positive and increase our wellbeing or it upholds our wellbeing. It might be a negative/stressful situation like a loss of someone, an injury or illness, or it might be a threat of a injury or a loss that can be expected to happen soon. But the situation may also be indifferent to us and our wellbeing. So coping is how well, or poverly, we handle the situations. And the situation that leads to us getting a positiv stress or a negative stress us called stressor.
When we’re faced with this stressor we make a primary appraisal. Is the stressor irrelevant to us? Then maybe we can just ignore it. Is it a positive stressor? If so our wellbeing can be maintained. Is the stressor a stressful situation? A stressful situation can be an injury or loss of e.g. our ability to perform, our self-esteem or our self-confidence. A stressful situation can also be that we detect something that can threaten us in some way in the future.
On Positive Psychology they explain a stressor, a threat, so well:
“The ego is frequently the piece in danger, along with our sense of self, our very identity, our worldview, and our inner beliefs or faith.” […] “we can simply view coping as something that follows a stressful, or ‘troubled’ situation”.
A defense mechanism or a coping mechanism?
Also this is easily explained on the Positive Psychology-site. Where using coping mechanisms when we’re trying to deal with something stressful. Defense mechanisms are unconscious processes that we use but not may be aware of.
Coping strategies, stressors and coping styles
A stressor leads to a copingrespons, we use (mostly unaware of it) a coping strategy. A coping strategy is how we manage a situation. And then we have different coping styles which referres to how persistent or avoiding we are to our chosen strategy. There are avoidant strategies an there are approached focused strategies. The strategies we choose can be problem focused, which is when we focus on the obstacles or problems the situation puts us in. Or our strategy is emotion focused and that is when we focus on the emotions that are being caused by the situation.
My explanations are taken from notes from my when I read to become a nurse, Weiten and some of R.Lazarus and Folkman. There have been several other persons who’ve made additions to the of the list of coping strategies and coping styles since Lazarus first wrote of them. I’m gonna serve you some of them below.
- Appraisal-focusted coping
By modifying the way we look up on at situation (e.g. adjust a goal and values) so we’ll be able to cope with the situation. It can also be that we use humor as a stress regulator or to keeping a distance to the situation.
- Problem focused coping
By seeking information, learning new abilities the person can take control over the situation.
- Emotion focused coping
We focus on managing the emotions that comes from of our perception of the stressing situation. The coping strategies can be exercising self-control, positive reconsideration, take your frustrations out on others, disclaiming, escape-avoidant or accepting responsibility or blame. A person may try to allay the emotional reactions the stressor causes. By minimize the importance of the stressor or giving in to wishful thinking they may accomplish that.
We seek help from others to manage once emotions or stressor. The others can be a medical team, your family or friends.
- Meaning-making coping
We’re focusing on to reappraise the stressor so the mening of the stressor changes to something positive, the stressor gets a meaning for you. Or you’re able to transfer your attention away from the stressor.
- Proactive coping
You anticipate that there will be a problem witch reduces the stress you could have gotten otherwise.
- Social coping
I feel that this is the same as the mentioned above ‘support-seeking’ coping.
- Meaningfocused coping
Its like the ‘meaning-making coping’ strategy. You try to find a meaning with the stressful situation that’s occurred.
As a coping strategy has shown advantages for your mental and emotional health. The humor can decrease your experience of the stressor. The use of humor as a coping strategy can make you feel a somewhat of control over a powerless situation.
Laughter makes us relax in muscles which leads to a better blood flow in our veins. At the same time our body produces end releases the hormon endorphin which is the bodys own ‘morfin’. Not the same substans but it has the same effect in our bodys as morfin. So laughter can lead to less pain if we’re lucky.
Our coping style depends on what kind of personality we’ve got. It is most often persistent over time. E.g. our view of life, if we’re stubborn etc.
Avoidant coping strategies or Approached focus strategies
Avoidant strategies are those strategies that makes us try to ignore our situations. We’re trying to escape from the stressor. For example someone gets diagnosed with cancer. This person then choses to ignore that diagnos, lives on as usual, don’t tell his/hers family about the cancer and don’t show up for his/hers treatments. Either it’s a denial or it’s to diminish the fact that he/she has got cancer.
Approaching strategies are those where you e.g. try to solve the situation. You face the stressor and do what’s needed to get done. That can be that you change your opinions about something or your way of thinking so your life will go as smoothly as possible.
If using maladaptive strategies you can reduce the symptoms of the stressor but at the same time you nourish and fortify the negative outcome of the stressor. Using these kind of coping strategies can have positive outcomes for short time, While using these isn’t a good solution seen to a longer period.
Maladaptive coping strategies according to
- Disassociation is when your mind separates and categories your emotions, memories and thoughts and this is often seen in persons with PTSD.
- A person try to prevent negative events from occurring by learning about how to prevent these events and how to anticipate them. This is called sensitization.
- If you have panics attacks and/or phobias it can show that you use a escape strategy. You try to flee the situation as soon as you experience least sign of anxiety. In this group of strategy self-medication is included.
- If you put all your trust in a person or something else as a mean of coping with your excessive anxiety you can be using the safety behavior category. This can be found in people with anxiety disorders.
Coping is how we with our behavior or cognition handle a situations (stressors) that we regard as, in some way, threatening. Our intentions with our coping can either be to, tolerate, reduce or conquer the stressor. Depending on what kind of coping we use our level of stress can be decreased or increased.
What kind of coping strategy we use depends on our personality, age, our earlier experiences, genes, our social environment etc.
By seeing a therapist or take group sessions etc, we can be made aware of weather our coping strategy/strategies serves us good or not. Many times it’s difficult to look upon ourselves, to examine ourselves, to be made aware of what we’re doing or thinking about in the wrong way.
This post is just a dab with my toe in the big sea of coping. My intention is to make a post about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strategies. But my life is kind of shitty right now due to my PPMS with its side effects and its effects on the rest my family lifes. I’m also in the middle of my working life taking a u-turn and parents ‘with a situation’.
Writing is something that gives me pleasure and if I’m able to help at least somehow while doing it – I couldn’t be happier.
I would love to answer any questions from you and I Would love to hear your opinions about the content of this post! As long as the criticism is constructive I’ll gladly take it!
I’m not a psychologist or specialist in coping strategies. English isn’t my first language. Due to these facts I will apologize in advance for any mistakes due to facts or languages. I’ve used sites in English too so if I’ve translated words wrongly while I read about this subject there may be a misconception from my side. So if interested to learn more, please read on the pages below to get further knowledges. And yes, I’ve read on Wikipedia too. It is not bad as long as you have in the back of your mind that you might need to read their references too. The reference list isn’t correctly done with years and sides and links etc, but I at least namned my sources…
Disclaimer no 2
This post I’m trying Elementor for the first time, so if the post looks shitty (which I kind of think right now…) it’s because of the fact that I fucking don’t know how to make the changes that I would like to. And I do not have the time or energy to watch any more than the 1000 instruction videos or pages that I already watched and I don’t want to contact the business either, I do not have that energy.
Referenses to sources of facts
Lazarus, & Folkman