Stress is an inevitable part of human life. It acts a factor in human behavior, mentality and social interaction. The inclusion of stress in human life could be in a positive or negative form. Positive form may be helpful in encouraging and adapting to different situation. Stress, when becomes too much, may lead to harmful effect not only on a person’s body, but may also lead to significant damage to a person’s psychological condition. When stress is introduced, a person would always respond as a way to cope, and sometimes the effect would also depend whether the stress was used constructively; or if it was too overwhelming, the person may succumb to stress.
Coping can be considered as a complex activity and that it involves an interplay of several factors based primarily on a person’s preference, attitude, environment etc. But, generally it creates different forms of mechanism. It was suggested that coping mechanism can be categorized in three forms: task-oriented, emotion-oriented or defense-oriented, and avoidance-oriented (Higgins and Endler). Although, avoidance-oriented could literally a form of not coping to stress. It can be disregarded as a form of coping mechanism due to the absence of coping strategy. It is even associated with less adjustment and poorer judgment in terms of coping (Billings and Moos). In task-oriented strategy, it resolves the stress by taking direct action to respond to the situation. It can also involve changing oneself to address the problem or the situation at hand. It can find solutions to the problem by directly solving them or by finding an alternative solution. Avoidance-oriented can also be categorized under task-oriented strategy since under task-oriented classification, a person may opt not to do the problem and dismiss or disregard the stress given. On the other hand, emotion-oriented or defense-oriented involves protecting oneself from the changes brought about by stress. It really does not concentrate on resolving the situation rather, it focused merely on the emotional level. There could be two ways of reacting in a defense-oriented mechanism.
First, a person might show response to the stressor by crying, mourning, shouting or nagging. In this way, the individual can channel his anxiety or excitement to another direction. It may also be used to let the hype of emotion subside first before going to a more logical approach of resolving the disturbance and chaos presented. Secondly, under defense-mechanism, a person may utilize an ego or self-defense. A person may object to the situation by denying, distorting/altering the scene or restricting the experience. The individual may do this in order to take the blame and responsibility away from oneself and projected into someone else. With this, the individual is protected from external threats from others and internal threats such as guilt and conscience. Both of these coping mechanism have substantial benefits depending on the situation. However, it was claimed that in the long-run task-oriented coping is the most effective strategy as it resolves the problem right away (Cosway et al.).
It must be noted that these two types of coping mechanism may be used in combination with each other. Or, there could be a transition from one coping mechanism to another. For example, an individual’s initial reaction to stressor would be to cry, but after such time, he would be able to construct a concrete plan to resolve the problem. In this way, both mechanisms are essential to the individual. Sometimes, avoidance would also be the most appropriate thing to do in the situation. It all depends on the individual’s preference.
Billings, Andrew G, and Rudolf H Moos. 'The Role of Coping Responses and Social Resources in Attenuating the Stress of Life Events'. Journal of behavioral medicine 4.2 (1981): 139--157. Print.
Cosway, Richard et al. 'The Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations: Factorial Structure and Associations with Personality Traits and Psychological Health1'. Journal of applied bio-behavioral research 5.2 (2000): 121--143. Print.
Higgins, June E, and Norman S Endler. 'Coping, Life Stress, and Psychological and Somatic Distress'. European journal of personality 9.4 (1995): 253--270. Print.