How to Cope with Life's Stressors
Life is Not Easy
It’s no easy matter coping with life’s stressors. We have to deal with hurdles and challenges that come our way. Some are expected, and some throw us completely by surprise. Sometimes it’s too much to handle, too confusing to approach, or even scary. We may turn to means of coping that are not stable or healthy for us. Some of us turn to alcohol, others turn to drugs, some turn to shopping, gaming, sex, TV, etc. We may not label all of these things as addictions, but when worst comes to worst, it is possible that each of these things can turn into an unhealthy addiction.
The attachment we form between our coping mechanism of choice and ourselves becomes problematic. Our brain begins to reinforce our reward/pleasure center into believing that we need to continue with this coping mechanism despite it being harmful for us.
Perhaps you’re dealing with a tough situation or circumstance at this very moment and need to figure how to cope with it in a healthy manner. Look no further! Healthy coping methods can be categorized to tackle two different needs. One set is referred to as emotion-focused coping, while the other is referred to as problem-focused coping.
We can tackle our issues by addressing the problem itself and how it makes us feel. Emotion-focused coping is helpful for when you need to take care of your feelings. It’s most effective when you do not want to change the situation, or when the circumstances are out of your control. Problem-based coping is helpful for when you want to change your situation, or even remove yourself from the situation or the stressor itself out of your life.
For example, you have to give a presentation at work or school in front of a large group but you’re anxious and nervous about public speaking. If we take a problem-focused approach to coping, it might entail looking for a coach to help you with public speaking and practicing in front of your friends so that you can feel better prepared for your presentation. If we take an emotion-focused approach it would be practicing breathing exercises to help with anxiety and showing yourself some self-compassion. Though coping methods can be categorized into two different parts, that does not mean you need to only apply one method; you can use both.
Coping does not necessarily end after problem solving or emotion-soothing. We can set boundaries for ourselves afterwards. If we continue with the example, we can approach our boss or teachers and ask that we are give presentations with other people if that seems easier or ask that we present to a smaller group of people. It’s okay to ask for accommodations when things are tough.
Remember you are capable of more than you think! You have the strength to move forward!