What are essential Coping Behaviours?

What is Coping?

According  to APA dictionary, Coping is the use of cognitive and behavioral strategies to manage the demands of a situation when these are appraised as taxing or exceeding one’s resources or to reduce the negative emotions and conflict caused by stress. See also coping strategy.

Coping is defined as the thoughts and behaviors used to manage the internal and external demands of situations that are appraised as stressful (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2004; Taylor & Stanton, 2007).

Characteristics of Coping

  1. Dynamic Process-  the relationship between coping and a stressful event is a dynamic process.
  2. Series of transactions–  between a person who has a set of resources, values, and commitments and a particular environment with its own resources, demands, and constraints (Folkman & Moskovitz, 2004).

Coping is not a one-time action but a set of responses, occurring over time, by which the environment  & the person influence each other.

What is Coping Mechanism or Coping strategies or Coping skills.?

any conscious or nonconscious adjustment or adaptation that decreases tension and anxiety in a stressful experience or situation. Modifying maladaptive coping mechanisms is often the focus of psychological interventions

What is Coping Strategy?

American Psychological Association (APA) defined coping strategy is an action, a series of actions, or a thought process used in meeting a stressful or unpleasant situation or in modifying one’s reaction to such a situation. Coping strategies typically involve a conscious and direct approach to problems, in contrast to defense mechanisms. See also coping behaviorcoping mechanismemotion-focused copingproblem-focused coping.

What is a Coping Behavior/ Coping style?

A characteristic and often automatic action or set of actions taken in dealing with stressful or threatening situations. Coping behaviors/ styles can be both-

  1. Positive (i.e., adaptive)- Approach (confrontative, vigilant) coping style, for example, taking time to meditate or exercise in the middle of a hectic day; or
  2. Negative (i.e., maladaptive)-  Avoidant (minimizing) coping style,  for example, not consulting a doctor when symptoms of serious illness appear or persist.

Coping style is a propensity to deal with stressful events in a particular way.

Problem Focused Coping

It is directed at the stressor itself. It involves confronting the problem and reconstructing it as manageable. Problem-focused coping involves attempts to do something constructive about the stressful conditions that are harming, threatening, or challenging an individual. Three types of problem-focused coping skills have been defined:
1 Seeking information and support, involving building a knowledge base by accessing any available information.
2 Taking problem-solving action, involving learning specific procedures and behaviours (e.g. insulin injections).
3 Identifying alternative rewards, involving the development and planning of events and goals that can provide short-term satisfaction.

  1. Ellis’s rational thinking- REBT- It helps you identify irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns that may lead to emotional or behavioral issues.
  2. Positive reinterpretation- 
  3. Humor as a stress reducer-  A positive coping method useful to emotional and mental health well-being.  Laughing may reduce muscle tension, increase the flow of oxygen to the blood, exercise the cardiovascular region, and produce endorphins in the body.

Emotion Focused Coping

It focus on reducing distress triggered by stressors. It involves managing emotions and maintaining emotional equilibrium. It call
for psychological changes designed primarily to limit the degree of emotional disruption caused by an event, with minimal effort to alter the event itself. Emotion-focused coping involves efforts to regulate emotions experienced due to the stressful event.

Three types of emotion-focused coping skills have been defined:
1 Affective, involving efforts to maintain hope when dealing with a stressful situation.
2 Emotional discharge, involving venting feelings of anger or despair.
3 Resigned acceptance, involving coming to terms with the inevitable outcome of an illness.

  1. Using systematic problem solving,
  2. Using time more effectively
  3. Improving self-control


Ogden, J. (2017). Health psychology: A textbook (4th ed.).McGraw Hill Education.

Taylor, Shelley E. (2018). Health Psychology (10th ed). McGraw Hill Higher Education. Indian Edition

Tariq, Qudsia; Khan, Naima Aslam (2013). “Relationship of Sense of Humor and Mental Health: A Correlational Study” (PDF)Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities2 (1): 331–37.

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