Coping with Stress
Michael A. Walker
30 November 2014
Since I separated from the military last year I have been under an increased amount of stress. Things from work, school, living situation, family, financials, etc. With this increase in stress I have increased, enhanced, and developed new coping mechanism. I use many different types of ways to cope with my stress, which all depends on what the stress is, is it new to me, did I foresee it, is it out of my control, and is it worth stressing over in the first place.
Stress can be defined as “an unpleasant and arousing experience that fills people with negative and unhealthy emotions” (Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) designated two general types of coping strategies, problem-focused coping, and emotion-focused coping. Problem-focused coping is cognitive and behavioral efforts to alter a stressful situation, and emotional-focused coping is cognitive and behavioral efforts to reduce the distress produced by a stressful situation. A third alternative has been presented by Shelly Taylor and and Lisa Aspinwall, this alternative is known as proactive coping. Proactive coping is up-front efforts to ward off or modify the onset of a stressful event. Then there is social support, the helpful coping resources provided by friends and other people.(Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014)
Of the four types of coping strategies mentioned, I use all of them. I use problem-focused coping when I feel like the situation either could have been avoided or could be remedied with a deal of effort on my behalf. Like most people I do like stress, and I try to do everything that I can to end it, and I try to do so without causing myself additional stress. When it comes to financial stress, I will try to find ways to either work more hours or do something to make more money. Of course, taking that approach can cause me additional stress, especially while going to school full time. Thats when I may find myself contemplating on taking a semester off from school to free of time to work more and create a financial cushion for myself. I use emotion-focused coping when I feel like the stressful situation is out of my control. While being in the military, I missed a lot of holidays and birthdays with my family, to cope with this, I reminded myself why I chose to serve, that it was only temporary, and that holidays are just another day and I focused on the positives, like the fact that I had a stable job during the holidays while a lot of people did not.(Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014)
After a while, we tend to recognize when a previously experienced stress is about to show up, or when we find ourselves engaging in certain activity that we know will end up with us in a stressful situation, we utilize proactive coping. We use this probably more often than I realize, whenever I feel myself procrastinating with any kind of important business, but then think of the consequences, I get to work to avoid those consequences. I obey the law to avoid the stress of tickets or jail time. There are many different scenarios that proactive coping can be used, and to me it is the best strategy so we can nip it in the bud.(Kassin, Fein, Markus, 2014)
Social coping is probably the most utilized strategy of all. With such an influx of social media portals, we see a lot of venting and request for opinions. It took me a long time to get comfortable with sharing my stress with other people. Mainly because I am so use to everyone coming to me for advice and comfort, I never wanted to see myself as “weak enough” to need it. I then realized that I too am human and talking things out with others actually helps me a lot. Opening up allowed me to realize things about myself that I never paid attention to. As we help others we tend to be helping ourselves by answering questions we have never actually asked.(Kassin, Fein, Markus,...
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