Coping strategies: what are they and how can they help us?

When we face certain problems or challenges that life brings to us, our ability to keep a cool head can be the key to successfully overcoming obstacles.

One of the abilities that allows us to do this is to cope. But what exactly is coping and why are some people more able to achieve their goals?

Definition of “confrontation”

In psychology, adaptation has been defined as a set of cognitive and behavioral strategies that the person uses to deal with internal or external demands that are perceived to be excessive on the individual’s resources (Lazarus and Folkman 1984). It can be seen as an adaptive response, by everyone, to reduce the stress that arises from a situation considered difficult to face.

The ability to cope refers not only to practical problem solving, but also to the ability to deal with emotions and stress in the face of the problematic situation. Changing our own coping strategies to deal effectively with stressful events therefore depends either on how the events are evaluated or on our ability to capture information, seek help and social support in the context. where they are lived.

The main adaptation strategies

Psychological studies highlight three major characteristics of coping strategies, from which they can be classified as follows: (1) Assessment, search for the significance of the critical event; (2) the problem, tries to confront reality, dealing with the consequences that present themselves to us; and (3) emotion, the regulation of emotional aspects and the attempt to maintain emotional balance. In this vein, we can identify that the coping strategies are identified in three classes:

  1. Problem-oriented strategies,
  2. Strategies focused on emotions,
  3. Strategies based on avoidance.

Problem-oriented strategies are often used under stressful conditions considered to be controllable: they are task-oriented strategies to achieve problem resolution and / or modification. In contrast, emotion-focused strategies tend to be used when we perceive the stressful event as out of control, such as one that can be experienced in the face of danger: he tries to deal with the problem by focusing on the emotions and releasing them and trying to relax..

Finally, avoidance-based strategies tend to be dealt with at times when the person supposes to postpone active adaptation due to the need to order and plan their psychosocial resources before actively tackling the situation. : they are strategies focused on escape, distraction, getting away from the stressful event or turning to another activity in order not to think.

Dealing with a situation doesn’t mean doing it the right way

In each of these coping classes, functional and / or dysfunctional strategies can be used. This leads to consider that in reality, there are no adaptation styles a priori adaptive or unsuitable, there are strategies that may be effective in one situation, they may not be in others.

Developing our capacity for a good deal

Therefore, we can conclude that the essential element for a good adaptation to the stressful event, Especially in the case of stressful events of long duration over time, it is both the flexibility in the use of coping strategies, the ability not to use a single strategy and to change it if we find it ineffective and unsuitable.

Some coping strategies that we can learn to develop could be:

  • Keep active control over the problem
  • Try not to make the situation more dramatic
  • Relax and analyze the situation from different angles,

  • Confidence in ourselves and in our abilities,
  • Admit our limitations, we are people, not robots!
  • Seek help from the most intimate people, when we recognize that we need support.

The welfare state is therefore accessible through a balance between our will and the possibility of acting according to the context in which we live, thus strengthening our internal resources and those available in our environment.

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