How Problem-Focused Coping Skills Can Help You Live Stress-Free
Life is never without challenges and ups and downs. From work-related stress to personal setbacks, we experience almost everything. How we choose to deal with these challenges is what makes all the difference when it comes to our well-being and quality of life. One such way to cope with the challenges and stress of life is problem-focused coping.
Problem-focused coping is a skill that can encourage and empower us to deal with and face our day-to-day challenges head-on. With these skill sets, we don’t simply cope with stress, but target the source of stress and address the issue directly.
It might not look like it, but problem-focused coping can help you feel less anxious and stressed. How? Well, keep reading to find out what is problem-focused coping, how it helps, and how it compares to emotional-focused skills. Read until the end to also learn practical ways to incorporate problem-focused coping into your daily life.
What is Problem-Focused Coping?
Problem-focused coping is, more or less, a proactive approach to handling and dealing with stress and day-to-day life challenges. This set of skills involves understanding the root causes of a problem or your stress and taking specific steps to address those issues head-on.
Instead of dwelling on the emotional aspects, you can incorporate problem-focused coping to focus on finding practical solutions – problem-based solutions – to address your challenges and stress.
Benefits of Problem-Focused Coping
There are some situations where you need to find solutions not based on emotions but rather the opposite. Studies show that using problem-focused coping skills can work in your favor more effectively than using emotional-focused coping. Here are some other benefits of problem-focused coping;
1. It Offers Practical Problem Resolution
One of the benefits of problem-focused coping is that it often helps you find practical solutions to problems. By taking a step-by-step approach to address the issue, you can improve your circumstances and cope with stress at the same time.
2. It Helps Reduce Stress
When you tackle problems directly, it can reduce feelings of helplessness and anxiety. When you’re actively working on a solution, you regain a sense of control over your life and make better, practical, and smarter decisions.
3. It Improves Decision-Making
Problem-focused coping can also encourage you to think rationally and help you make more informed choices, leading to better decision-making.
4. It Helps You Move On
When you employ problem-focused coping strategies to deal with stressful situations, you focus on solutions more than emotions. It can help you move on faster and more effectively. For example; If you’re looking to leave a toxic workplace, using problem-focused coping can make you feel motivated to do so without involving emotions too much.
The Drawbacks of Problem-Focused Coping
Now, while problem-focused coping strategies have their benefits, it doesn’t come without some drawbacks either. Here are some disadvantages of problem-focused coping that you need to understand and keep in mind;
1. It Doesn’t Suit all Problems
Not all problems can be solved through problem-focused coping strategies. Some issues are beyond our control, and applying this approach to control stress and setbacks may lead to frustration and disappointment.
2. It Ignores the Emotional Aspect
When you exclusively rely on problem-focused coping, you might ignore the emotional aspects of stress and setbacks. You might even overlook the need to find emotional support and self-care because you’re entirely focused on the rational side of things.
3. It Can Cause Stress
Yes. Instead of reducing stress, problem-focused coping might cause stress. Addressing and solving an issue head-on might redirect your attention to creating solutions which can put additional pressure and stress on your mind.
Problem-Focused Coping vs. Emotion-Focused Coping
Many people confuse problem-focused coping with emotional-focused coping, but these two stress management strategies are different. Let’s understand the difference between the two with examples;
Imagine you’re overworked and stressed at work and are facing a deadline. When you employ problem-focused coping strategies here, it would mean breaking down your tasks, creating a to-do list, and managing your time accordingly. This means you’re addressing the problem and finding a solution on how to deal with the result of being overworked.
Emotional-focused coping, on the other hand, might include seeking emotional support from your coworkers, friends, or family to deal with the stress of being overworked. Emotional-focused coping strategies focus on the emotional side of things when it comes to stress management.
Practical Ways to Practice Problem-Focused Coping
So, now that you know what problem-focused coping entails, here are some practical ways you can incorporate it into your daily life and routine to deal with everyday stress;
1. Identify the Problem
The first thing you can do to practice problem-focused coping is to clearly define the problem you’re facing. Try to pinpoint the cause of your problem and stress. Do not go with vague descriptions.
2. Set Achievable Goals
Now that you’ve identified the problem, set goals you can achieve. Break down the problem into manageable goals so that you can address the problems without adding more pressure and stress to your mind.
3. Brainstorm Ideas
You can actively think about different ways you can address the problem. Consider stress management strategies, methods, and other options you can try. This is all about creating a list of ideas and solutions that can help you tackle the problem.
If your stress is triggering your flight-or-fight response, then pause for a moment and just breathe. You don’t have to force yourself to think about the solution. It’s OK to take a break and think about your next steps. When you feel stressed, take a breath, and revisit the problem with a clear head.
5. Seek Support
Know that it’s okay to ask for help or seek advice from others, especially if the problem is complex or if you’re unsure about how to move on from there. Make sure that the support you seek aligns with your problem-focused approach.
6. Manage Time Effectively
To effectively tackle the problem, set aside dedicated time to work on it. This step will help you feel reassured that you’re giving the problem the attention it deserves and prevent it from becoming too much.
7. Use Stress as a Motivator
Did you know that stress can be positive for you? Yes! Stress, when used positively, can help motivate you. Without mild stress, you might not feel motivated enough to stay on your task at hand. So, instead of letting stress get to you, use it as a motivator to find creative ways to address problems.
8. Practice Self-Care
While addressing the problem is a must, it’s equally important to take care of your emotional well-being. Practice self-care activities, such as relaxation techniques and spending time with loved ones. These can help you manage stress and maintain a healthy balance between addressing issues and caring for yourself.
Problem-focused coping strategies can be powerful tools to handle life’s challenges and setbacks. By taking a more proactive approach, you can effectively address your problems, reduce stress, and make better decisions.
However, you need to learn to balance problem-focused and emotion-focused coping, understanding that some situations might need more emotional support and self-care. By incorporating problem-focused coping into your daily life, you can cope with day-to-day stress with confidence.
I hope this article helped you understand problem-focused coping, how it helps, and how you can incorporate it into your life. Let me know what you think about these coping strategies in the comments below.