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Distinguish between problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping Essay

Problem-focused coping: Problem-focused coping is attempting to alleviate stress directly either by changing the stressor or the way we interact with that stressor, Problem-focused coping, targets the causes of stress in practical ways which tackles the problem or stressful situation that is causing stress, consequently directly reducing the stress. Problem focused coping aim to remove or reduce the cause of the stressor. (McLeod, Stress Management – Problem Focused Coping with Stress. , 2010) For example, the way classmates deal with stressors like exams , you can see a range of different coping responses. Some classmates will pace around or worry about it, others will revise, or pester their teachers for clues. Problem-focused strategies include:

Taking Control – this response involves changing the relationship between yourself and the source of stress. Examples: escaping from the stress or removing the stress. : Information seeking is the most rational action. This involves the trying to understand the situation (e.g. using the internet) and putting into place cognitive strategies to avoid it in future. Information seeking is a cognitive response to stress. : Evaluating the pros and cons of different options for dealing with the stressor. In general problem-focused coping is best, as it removes the stressor, and so deals with the root cause of the problem, providing a long term solution. However, it is not always best, or possible to use problem-focused strategies. For example, when someone dies, problem-focused strategies may not be very helpful for the bereaved. Dealing with the feeling of loss requires emotion-focused coping.

Problem focused approached will not work in any situation where it is beyond the individual’s control to remove the source of stress. They work best when the person can control the source of stress (e.g. exams, work based stressors etc.). It is not a productive method for all individuals. For example, not all people are able to take control of a situation. People with low self-esteem typically use emotion focused coping strategies. Emotion-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping Involves trying to reduce the negative emotional responses associated with stress such as embarrassment, fear, anxiety, depression, excitement and frustration. This may be the only realistic option when the source of stress is outside the person’s control. Drug therapy can be seen as emotion focused coping as it focuses on the arousal caused by stress not the problem. Emotion-focused strategies include: Keeping yourself busy to take your mind off the issue

: Letting off steam to other people
: Praying for guidance and strength
: Ignoring the problem in the hope that it will go away
: Distracting yourself (e.g. TV, eating)
: Building yourself up to expect the worse
Emotion-focused strategies are often less effective than using problem-focused methods. For example, Epping-Jordan et al (Epping-Jordan, 1994) found that patients with cancer who used avoidance strategies, e.g. denying they were very ill, deteriorated more quickly then those who faced up to their problems. The same pattern exists in relation to dental health and financial problems. It does not provide a long term solution. However, they can be a good choice if the source of stress is outside the person’s control for example a terrorist attack. There are Gender differences: women tend to use more emotion-focused strategies then men (Billings, 1981) It also may have negative side effects as it delays the person dealing with the problem. (McLeod, Emotion Focused Coping., 2009) My basic outlook on life and how does it impacts on my ability to cope with stress According to the study by Meyer Friedman, Ray Rosenman, and their colleagues (friedman, 1984) I am a type B personality so less prone to heart problems, I have always been an easygoing person and an optimist.

In my coping with stress I think I use the problem-focused coping most times, as I have always been a muscularly big person so with that confidence I was never afraid to grab the bull by the horns so to speak and directly try to work things out, also I have been into the healthy lifestyle and gyms since the age of fifteen. my social support is good and I do have a lot of close friends and keep in touch with them regularly, my family is with me most times (sons, daughter, sister and brother )so I think that my ability to cope with stress is excellent Some stress minimizing and management methods are exercise, relaxation, mediation, biofeedback and spirituality Exercise: exercise is your shortest route to a feeling of well-being and a physical glow. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you and that it is one of the best stress combatants available Not only does it keep the heart healthy and get oxygen into the system, but it helps deplete stress hormones and releases mood-enhancing chemicals which help us cope with stress better. Relaxation: Relaxation is more than a state of mind; it physically changes the way your body functions.

When your body is relaxed breathing slows, blood pressure and oxygen consumption decrease, and some people report an increased sense of well-being. This is called the “relaxation response.” Being able to produce the relaxation response using relaxation techniques may counteract the effects of long-term stress, which may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including depression, digestive disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia Mediation: Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and can even improve certain medical conditions.

The emotional benefits of meditation include: Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, Building skills to manage your stress, Increasing self-awareness, Focusing on the present, Reducing negative emotions Spirituality: Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life,” In her new book, The SuperStress Solution, Dr. Roberta Lee devotes a section to the topic of spirituality and prayer. Notes ,Dr. Lee. “They’re better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being. On an intellectual level, spirituality connects you to the world, which in turn enables you to stop trying to control things all by yourself. When you feel part of a greater whole, it’s easy to understand that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in life.

Among the research she cites is one study of approximately 126,000 people that found that the people who frequently attended services increased their odds of living by 29 percent. Another study conducted by the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR) illustrated that the Canadian college students who were connected to their campus ministries visited doctors less often and were less stressed during difficult times than the other students. The students who had strong religious correlations also had higher positive feelings, lower levels of depression, and were better equipped at handling stress. (a) I employ exercise and relaxation for stress relief,and I use the problem-focused coping most times to directly address any stressful situation I encounter


Billings, A. G. (1981). The role of coping responses and social resources in attenuating the stress of life events. . Journal of Behavioral Medicine,, 13: 539-547. Epping-Jordan, J. A. (1994). Predictors of cancer progression in young adult men and women: Avoidance, intrusive thoughts, and psychological symptoms. Health Psychology. McLeod, S. A. (2009). Emotion Focused Coping. http://www.simplypsychology.org/emotion-focused-coping.html. McLeod, S. A. (2010). Stress Management – Problem Focused Coping with Stress. . http://www.simplypsychology.org/problem-focused-coping.html.

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