Are we able to bounce back from adversity? Or are we resigned to a troubled fate when dealt a bad card in life? Humans are incredible, we have an innate ability to be resilient in the face of hardship. We are able to perform under high levels of negative stress. Many of us may actually grow accustomed to such high stakes and require it to stimulate our minds into being productive.
Not only is our success affected by the coping strategies we choose, illnesses and mortality can also be affected. In fact, research has shown that effective coping strategies reduce the negative impact of stress on our health, while positive lifestyle choices can improve our mental and physical well-being.
Coping strategies help to mitigate the impact that stress has on our health. They allow us to cope more effectively with stress and channel it more positively. It is through tools like this that people are able to thrive under stress, as they discover their own successful coping strategy. They act as stress moderators, regulating the stress we experience when exposed to stressors.
Defending vs Coping
There are 2 forms of stress management behaviours: Defending and Coping. Defending involves reducing the symptoms of stress or reducing one's awareness of them.
For example, when we feel anxious about something, we tend to distract ourselves by engaging in other activities. Doing so is classified as our defense and it is likely to make you feel better in the interim. however this will not make the problem go away. The main advantage of defending is that it helps to alleviate certain symptoms like anxiety and discomfort; but on the flip side it does not actually deal with the stressor, which means that you must inevitably confront the stressor.
In contrast, coping involves taking active action that reduces or eliminates the causes of stress. It requires the individual to confront the stressor head on, identifying it and developing a practical way to solve it. A holistic view of the situation is needed in order to overcome.
Lets use an example of coping with the stress of an exam, you must first
1) Realise you feel/are unprepared
2) Identify effective strategies
3) Implement strategies in a timely manner
4) Sit for the test
Completing these steps are likely to lessen your anxiety and increase your optimism towards similar stressors in future. Turning negative stress into something positive is not an overnight. It is a methodical process that requires continuous effort and a willingness to make positive change.