How People Cope With Stressful Situations
Coping occurs in response to psychological stress—usually triggered by changes—in an effort to maintain mental health and emotional well-being. Life stressors are often described as negative events (the death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, etc.); however, positive changes in life (marriage, birth, moving, a new job, etc.) can also constitute life stressors, thus requiring the use of coping skills to adapt. Coping strategies are the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that you use to adjust to the changes that occur in your life.
There are many coping styles that people use, and some may prove more effective than others, depending on the nature of the stressful situation and the person who is employing them. Ineffective coping mechanisms, also referred to as maladaptive coping, may also be applied to stressful events or internal conflict, often unconsciously. Maladaptive coping mechanisms are counterproductive.
Among researchers, coping styles are commonly assigned broad categories that draw distinctions between methods. For example, instrumental coping (referred to as problem-solving) focuses on ways to tackle the issue in order to reduce stress around a given situation, while emotion-focused coping gathers tools to nurture one's emotional health during the stressful period. Additionally, coping is identified as being either active or avoidant. Active coping strategies involve an awareness of the stressor, followed by attempts to reduce the negative outcome. By contrast, avoidant coping is characterized by ignoring the issue, often resulting in activities that aid in the denial of the problem (e.g., drinking, sleeping, isolating).
Specific Coping Strategies
Now that we've examined common styles of coping, let us take a look at specific coping strategies:
How Coping Mechanisms Are Related To Addiction
People who struggle with addictions often employ maladaptive coping mechanisms; some addicts remain in denial (or don’t know how to cope with stress in a healthy way), and others may be blaming themselves for a negative past experience—either of which may lead to using a substance or behavior to escape. The UCLA Dual Diagnosis Clinic can equip addicts with numerous healthy alternatives for coping with stress. Take the first step toward help and make the call now.