Continuing with our lecture on Stress, here are two broad strategies to cope with stress:
- Changing the situation:
This is a task-oriented strategy, involving direct action to change the situation. This in itself includes 3 separate responses, each affecting the relationship between the person and the stressor which can be understood as the challenging situation.
Attack – confront the stressor, solve the “problem” by developing new resources, maintaining flexibility and sometimes seeking external support.
Withdrawal – when attack is not possible or feasible, exit the challenging situation and look for new opportunities.
Compromise – rather than attack or withdraw completely, replace the difficult goal with an easier, or more realistic objective or decide to fulfill part of the original difficult goal. The former is called substitution and the latter is called accommodation.
- Changing the personal response
This covers all those strategies which you can use to change the way you personally react to a stressor. Muscle relaxation techniques, regular exercise, positive approach, enjoyable hobby, motivation, nurturing supportive relationships etc all fall in this category. Though these don’t diminish the stressor, they build your ability to cope.
According to some expert this approach also includes certain Freudian psychological defence mechanisms like denial, reaction formation, displacement, projection, repression, regression and sublimation. These of course have their own problems when taken recourse to, too frequently. So it is better to cultivate positive, conscious practices of changing personal response to stressful situations.