Stress (your body’s reaction) is caused by stressors which can be anything in life that you find threatening. Contrary to what many of us believe, some stress is a good thing; it can be useful motivating us to strive and achieve our goals. It is when stress becomes too high or leads to distress that it hinders our performance and can work against us.
Generally we think stress is only caused by other people, events or situations but it can also be caused by our own thoughts and perceptions. Therefore stress can arise from internal as well as external stressors. For example an external stressor could be having an argument with your partner and an internal stressor may be worrying that you are not good enough.
How well you respond to your stressors determines how well you cope. Of course no single coping strategy will be effective all the time. Coping encompasses our ‘thinking’,’ feeling’ and ‘doing’ domains of experience. evelynnwilliamhe7.blogspot.com . Do your coping styles support you and your wellbeing, or do they create more problems and increase your stress?
Do you head to the beach for a walk (helpful) after an argument with your partner, or head off for retail therapy with an over-stretched credit card (unhelpful) to distract yourself from worrying that you are not good enough?
Healthy coping strategies make you feel calmer, more at ease and help you undertake effective problem solving. They are an invaluable skill-set, and the good news is that they can be learned at any life stage.
Becoming more aware of your own coping styles and strategies, and making more conscious choices about how to respond to situations you find stressful can make the difference between unhelpful reacting and helpful responding. This can help your choices be part of the solution rather than part of the problem!
The model below summarises the links between stress, coping and potential outcomes for functioning and wellbeing. [insert model]
Emotional Regulation and Problem Solving
Effective coping strategies are adaptive and can be used to improve our mood and stabilise emotions, as well as to problem-solve. They can be broken down into three types of coping strategies: ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ and ‘doing’ strategies.
‘Thinking, or cognitive strategies target negative or unhelpful thoughts that may trigger or arise during a stressful time.
‘Feeling’ based strategies help us self-regulate our emotions and physiological arousal.
‘Doing’, or behavioural strategies involve doing something healthy or helpful to improve our mood and the problem at hand.
We can use these three types of coping strategies for emotional regulation and problem solving, as summarised below:
Examples of healthy coping strategies:
The above examples reflect the use of a number of skills, including decision making, assertiveness, relaxation and self-insight. Some of these may come easily to you, whilst others may be challenging or awkward. It can be helpful to discuss your options with another person, perhaps someone who can also role-model and teach you more effective coping skills.
Coping and your Personal Strengths
A flexible approach to coping with stress is most effective. When reviewing your own coping style and strategies, start by identifying your personal strengths and working with these to help you cope with stress more effectively. Have you taken the Personal Strengths Quiz located in the MindsPlus Resource page? MindsPlus professional therapists are available to help you gain greater clarity about your sources of stress and to assist you to work with your personal strengths to develop a range of adaptive coping strategies and learn healthy relaxation techniques to suit your individual needs.