I had a chat with a next door neighbour yesterday who was bemoaning the fact that the lockdown had been extended and they had to go back to home schooling their 9 year old (who as an active child was climbing up walls). He is a self employed builder struggling to find/do any work and his wife was trying hard to work from home but finding it difficult trying to work from home with a child and husband being bored, frustrated, anxious and annoyed. In a nutshell they are starting to struggle to cope. A familiar story in these challenging days I fear.
Coping is essentially the process of managing stressful events and research says there are 3 main coping styles:
- Under-control, (Passive Coping).
- Active coping
Active Control is seen as an Adaptive coping stategies (doing something suitable/effective). Over-Control and Under Control are Maladaptive strategies (unsuitable/ineffective). There is sometimes quoted a fourth category, Surrender, which may be an adaptive strategy as it can be effective and beneficial to on occasion accept ceratin situations as they are and realise thast there is nothing we can (or need to) do about it. These coping styles may also be either Emotional or Instrumental (Problem Solving) focused.
There is a 5 step process to developing our skills in being able to cope:
- Recognise when you are struggling to cope and clarify exactly what it is you are struggling with. For example you may ber struggling in general with working from home but to be more specific you may want to clarify by saying I am struggling to cope with the technology I now need to use to get my work done.
- Consider your thoughts about dealing with the things you are struggling to cope with and them down. For example you might write down that I don’t like technology because I don’t understand it.
- Identify the coping style that is being employed for that thought – Under control / passive coping in our example.
- Determine whether the coping strategy is helpful or not. In our example of not liking technology it is not really helpful at all.
- Consider an alternative active strategy. In our example there may be options such as:
- Learn how to use the technology
- Use different technology that you do understand
- Find new ways to do what you need to without technology
- Do something different that doesn’t need technology
- Seeking advice and support
Even when we don’t come up with specific instrumental (problem solving)coping solutions to our challenge we can use emotional / physical strategies that allow us to live with the difficult situation. These can be things like:
- Venting (outward expression of emotion such as my next door neighbour was doing).
- Relaxing (Taking a bath)
- Exercising (my preferred option)
- Meditation / Mindfulness
Perhaps the most important thing that we need to do is to take time everyday to step back and notice how well we are coping. Where we seem to be so then some positive recognition may well be in order. Where we don’t have a look at the process above and see if that helps you do something about it.
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