How to Stay Focused When Coping
By: Maxwell Velikodny
Life can be very unpredictable at times. One second, everything is great and it seems as though things can never get worse, and then suddenly, something happens that turns that belief on its head.
“That’s life, deal with it” is sometimes the advice that’s given in these situations, typically by older folks who believe other people’s problems are less significant than theirs.
It is certainly unfair to judge the magnitude of another person’s problems because it is impossible to know exactly what is going on in their life.
Because people have different tolerances for pain and anxiety, struggle can be subjective. What cannot be argued is the effect these struggles can have on an individual.
What should a person do when they are struggling with something like a bad day, a low-test score, termination from work, or even a death of a loved one?
Coping mechanisms are vital when issues, large or small, arise. Without coping mechanisms, a person’s problem will eventually overtake them and further degrade mental health.
According to Hopkins Medicine, to cope is to “manage situations we have appraised as potentially harmful or stressful.”
To be an expert coper, one must have excellent stress-management, time-management, problem-solving, decision-making, and lifestyle management skills.
A positive outlook on life and issues are just as crucial because the attitude one uses to attack a problem is important.
For instance, if Person A and Person B were taking a difficult class like physics and were struggling with the material they were having a test on, they would have to persevere and study.
Even after studying Person A believes he will fail because he understands nothing, causing immense panic and hyperventilation before the exam.
Meanwhile Person B also feels stressed and not confident about his understanding either, but is not psyching himself out.
Instead, Person B feels like the test is a challenge he must overcome and must do the best he can, even if he does not understand the material and is anxious.
It is more likely that Person B will do better than Person A because of his attitude toward the test.
Person B changed his anxiety-riddled perception of the exam into a challenge he must face head on, giving him a boost of confidence.
Life is the same way because the way one approaches issues is as important as the way the issues are dealt with.
By avoiding the perception that a crisis or issue is an insurmountable problem, a person can feel calmer when tackling their problems.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends several other methods to build resilience to issues and learn to cope.
Making connections and maintaining good relationships with family and friends is vital because support is sometimes necessary to overcome issues.
“Learning to accept circumstances that cannot be changed may [also] help you focus your attention on circumstances you can change,” mentions Hopkins Medicine.
Engaging in activities that are fun and enjoyable are good coping mechanisms in almost all situations too.
Especially activities that a person loves doing like riding a bike, hiking, hanging out with friends, or playing video games.
Religion alleviates anxiety for those that follow a certain faith, depending on the person and his or her perception of it.
Lastly, self-evaluation and self-growth analysis is one of the best ways to cope with experiences or trauma.
Examining the ways you have grown through the process of dealing with issues can be very helpful with self-perception and overcoming trauma.
“[Those] who have experienced tragedies and intense personal hardships have reported better relationships, greater sense of self-strength, increased self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and a heightened appreciation for life.”
Overcoming obstacles and struggles through coping mechanisms offer prospect of growth and the broadening of one’s perspective, explains Hopkins Medicine.
Next time life throws its next challenge, issue, or traumatic experience, use some of these methods because they will help alleviate the stress and anxiety.