Psychological stress is a normal response to events that threaten or upset your body system in some way. Whenever you sense danger, whether real or imagined, the defense mechanism of the body kicks into high gear in an automatic and rapid process referred to as fight or flight or freeze reaction.
Coping occurs as a response to psychological stress with the sole purpose of maintaining emotional and mental wellbeing. Life consists of both negative and positive events such as loss of a job, divorce, marriage, a new job, moving, and many others. These events can constitute life stressors; hence the need for all of us to learn coping skills to help adapt and move on smoothly from one stressor to another.
The thoughts, behaviors, and emotions you use to adapt to the changes occurring in your life are your coping strategies.
Different people cope with stress in different ways. This explains why people in the same environment appear to be so different yet they face the same life stressors. For instance, two children under abusive parents may respond in different ways where one becomes passive and frightened while the other defiant and openly rebellious.
The effectiveness of coping styles depends on the stressful situation and the individual employing them. In a rather unconscious manner, ineffective coping mechanisms may be applied to internal conflicts or stressful events. These mechanisms are counterproductive.
Experts have identified and categorized different coping styles as discussed below:
Instrumental Coping – This coping mechanism also referred to as problem-solving which focuses on reducing stress around a given scenario by concentrating on ways to handle the issue.
Emotion-Focused Coping – This coping style lays emphasis on the emotional health and gathers tools to nurture it over a stressful period.
Avoidance Coping – This is evident during denial. The person employing it ignores the issue at hand and this results in activities that help him or her avoid the problem.
Active Coping – This style begins with awareness of the life stressor and thereafter efforts to lessen the impact of the negative outcome.
Specific Coping Strategies
Apart from the above styles of coping, online therapists can help you with specific strategies to help you cope in different situations of stress. Below is a discussion of some of them:
Humor – This strategy involves positive reframing or highlighting the amusing components of an issue to help lessen its impact. It is used in dealing with small failures and low-level stressors.
Seeking Emotional Support – Family members, friends, or professional online therapists can help give you support during stressful periods. This is good for maintaining your emotional health.
Problem Solving – This is a critical coping mechanism that gives you space to explore the source of the problem and determine appropriate steps to take. This strategy is helpful in work situations.
Relaxation – Online therapy for stress management commonly involves calming techniques and relaxing activities to enhance overall coping.
Physical Exercise – Engaging in physical activities such as team sports, running, walking among other exercises can expand your capacity to handle the stress in a given situation. You may combine the exercises with relaxation techniques such as mediation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Expectation Management – By anticipating various outcomes and adjusting expectations to scenarios in life, you can prepare beforehand imminent stress associated with a certain event or change.
Whatever the kind of life stressors, there is always a solution. The secret is to seek professional help in advance before the problem progresses. There are online therapists who can train you on how to cope with any event or situation in your life.
The Virtual Therapist Network has brought together a wide range of therapists who are trained and experienced in stress management and coping strategies.