Every day people have to make various decisions, deal with different issues or difficulties, small or large ones. When a person faces a problem, that they do not seem to have resources to resolve on the spot, it puts them outside their comfort zone. Uncomfortable conditions give rise to stress that the person wants to get rid of . And a psychological term, explaining how we behave in such situations is coping. Сoping is the process of managing circumstances to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master or reduce stress. At that, stress does not necessarily relate to a big problem which requires much resources. The notion also includes everyday routine that we have to deal with. You need to wake up earlier than usual, your bus is late and you are freezing, I'm under time pressure to complete this article by tomorrow morning :) - all these make you feel uncomfortable or cause you inconveniences. There are many strategies people use to somehow tolerate this stress. So what are they? Coping has been quite acute for a long time and many different classifications have been developed so far. Experts are yet to agree on an integrated approach to phenomenon. We will stop at one classification which is regarded as a basis. It suggests two types of coping strategies: problem-focused and emotion-focused. The main difference is on what a person focuses. Emotion-focused strategies mean that people concentrate on their feelings and attitude towards the problem. They try to change the way they think. For example, on knowing a bad news one may deny it, refuse to accept that it did happen. Alternatively, people may modify the way they think about the problem. They may alter their goals or values in order to make the reality meet their expectations. For instance, many of you, I believe, often use one of these strategies when you try to ridicule, laugh at an unpleasant situation, don't you? Another simple example of emotion-focused way occurs when it seems impossible to have your wish come true for some reasons. You may change your mind and switch to something else which appears to be easier to accomplish at the moment. This is considered a negative coping behavior since you, in fact, refuse to reach your goal and choose just to escape the uncomfortable circumstances. This strategy is named escape strategy. A person escapes when they try to avoid the reality, literally escape from actual problem solving. How does it happen? We may eat the stress up. Food evokes certain hormones that in turn bring us an illusion of positive emotions. Apparently, it is quite a dangerous habit as it might lead to overweight and more health problems. Eating problems up is a common cause of obesity. Not all people are aware that these positive emotions can be achieved by simple workouts: physical exercises generate the same hormones. Another most frequently used escape strategy is sleeping. When facing a serious problem, a person, who tends to rely on this strategy, may sleep for several days. A friend of mine, when he got to know that he was about to be expelled from the university, slept for 20 hours per day. I, myself, have a mild coping strategy of this type. When I receive a vast amount of new information to process that I never faced before my mind goes blank and starts switching off and crashing out, as if it refused to function. I suddenly feel very lazy and sleepy. For instance, having a humanitarian mind, I was terrified by mathematical, physical and programming facts. It looked like this IT crowd sitcom scene: 'This, Jenn, is the Internet' Problem-focused strategy implies that a person tends to deal with the cause of the problem. They seek for resources, learn new skills to solve the problem. Obviously, this is the only effective way as it provides thorough problem analysis and new experience which will help you in the future. Let alone the problem is resolved. So why do we use such inefficient methods like escaping anyway? To answer this question, let us get back to the beginning of the article. Coping covers not only large issues, it also includes our everyday routine. Remember Eyjafjallajökull vulcano? How many times did you attempt to spell this name before you actually see how it is spelled? =) The brain just denies to accept this strange title. Our psychic is attacked by stressful moments, big or small ones, and therefore get a negative impact throughout the day. Obviously, small stresses do not require large-scale activities. When you are upset because your favourite show has been canceled, you will not make up a multi-phase plan on how to put it back on TV. You will probably switch to another show or eat a cookie to feel better. Essentially all these strategies aim at one thing: eliminating bad feelings. The brain implements one of its main functions: it protects you from destructive emotions and facts. Which way to choose? It is totally up to you.
I have a problem coping with difficulties. It's ok to shut down on small problems, but it's terrible not to be able to solve big ones. When I face a problem I sleep, read and watch movies - escape reality in every possible way. I hope I will change one day.