Coping and Coping Strategies

Coping and Coping Strategies

When you experience stress, what do you do? Are you conscious of your coping strategies or not?

Today on the journal I wanted to discuss coping and the different coping strategies and tools we use to adapt to stress and transform the challenges we experience in life. Because, let’s face it we all experience stress throughout our lives.

 

What is Coping?

There are many definitions on coping, including –

  • “the process of contending with life difficulties in an effort to overcome or work through them.” ~ Medical Dictionary / the Free Dictionary, or
  • “constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person.” ~ Lazarus and Folkman.

After reading the above definitions on coping – what does it mean for you?

 

What Are Coping Strategies?

According to Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck (2007) –

“A coping strategy refers to “how people respond to stress as they contend with real-life problems” (Skinner and Zimmer-Gembeck.” (p.124).

Coping strategies are ways we use to deal with, alleviate and manage stress within life. Coping strategies can be emotional, cognitive, behavioural or a combination of all three. And, when it comes to coping strategies, we need to (un)learn what is best for us. I say (un)learn as each of us is unique and the strategy we used when we were younger may not be useful today.

Over time, researchers have generally tried to categorise the different ways of coping. For example –

  • problem-focused coping versus emotion-focused coping,
  • problem-focused coping vs. emotion-focused coping vs. appraisal-focused coping,
  • engagement vs disengagement, and
  • approach versus avoidance and many others.

However, this has proved limiting and a hierarchical model of coping evolved.

 

The Hierarchical Model of Coping

Skinner and colleagues (2003) developed a hierarchical conceptualisation of the structure of coping. The structure includes – coping families, ways of coping and then coping instances. For example –

  • Coping Family or Family of Coping – includes the ways ways of coping that serve that same set of functions. For example – problem-solving is the coping family and includes the ways of coping – strategising, planning and instrumental action.
  • Ways of Coping – relates to a broader category of coping that explains specific coping instances. For example – reading a book on creating boundaries would fall under the way of coping “reading”.
  • Coping Instances or Instance of Coping –  is a specific action that a person takes to deal with a stressor. For example – a person call a friend to ask for help in relation to a specific situation. Basically an instance of coping is the answer to the question, “What did you do exactly to deal or cope with this situation?”.

 

Coping Strategies – Helpful or Unhelpful?

As you will see in the following diagram there are many different coping strategies. I have only included 5 of the twelve families and the associated ways of coping from that particular piece of research.

One thing I have come to realise over time is that human beings are very resilient and use coping strategies to survive and deal with stressful situations. Today, some of the strategies that we used in the past may need an overhaul as they are no longer serving us.

For me a personal example of this is eating chocolate. I know when my stress levels are getting higher, I turn to chocolate. I am aware of this NOW, however in the past I was not, as chocolate was one way I comforted myself to deal with stress in my life (or some would say a maladaptive coping strategy). Yes some people may refer to that as emotional eating, however I think it is pretty clever that the little Jane thought of this coping strategy when she was younger and used it to get through hugely stressful experiences / times in her life. Now the different is that I can choose when I eat chocolate, why I eat it and how I eat it as I have become much more aware of my own coping strategies and stress levels.

 

Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to coping and coping strategies. Remember the coping strategy that worked for you in the past may not be as useful today, so be kind to yourself as you discover what works best for you now 🙂

 

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

References –

Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, Appraisal, and Coping. New York, USA: Springer.

Skinner, E., Edge, K., Altman, J., & Sherwood, H. (2003). Searching for the structure of coping: a review and critique of category systems for classifying ways of coping. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 216–69.

Skinner, E., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. (2007). The development of coping. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 119-144.
Do You Have a Power Word for the Year?

Do You Have a Power Word for the Year?

As we move towards the end of the year, I wonder how you are going with vision for next year?

Is your vision becoming clearer or do you feel stuck?

If you feel stuck, you might like to try discovering your power word!

 

What is a Power Word?

A power word is a word relates to the theme of your year or current focus in your life. The word resonates with your being and reminds you that you have the power to change! When you have found it, the power word helps you to feel expanded, inspired and empowered.

 

What are Examples of Power Words?

Some examples of power words are –

  • love
  • creativity
  • joy
  • abundance
  • family
  • happy
  • gratitude
  • relax
  • breathe
  • energetic

For 2014, my word was responsibility. It may not resonate with you, but that is OK, that is why you need to find your power word! In 2015, my power word was courage, 2016 it was connection, 2017 back to responsibility, 2018 was healing, 2019 empowerment and 2020 & 2021 acceptance 🙂

How Do You Find Your Power Word?

Your power word arrives to you easily, you don’t have to think too much about it. You will know when you have your word as it will sit well with you, inspire you and resonate with your energy. Also, when you say the word to yourself, it can remind you about your dreams, goals and intentions for the year or focus for the present time in your life  so it can keep you on track!

 

I Have My Power Word, What Now?

Now you have your power word, you can use it! How? There are a number of ways and you could start with the following questions –

  1. If you lived and breathed your power word for the next 3, 6  or 12 months, what would be different for you?
  2. What activities, relationships, routines, habits, emotions or thoughts don’t currently resonate with my power word? Do you want to integrate any of these in to my life? If so, what ones?
  3. Identify the activities, relationships, routines, habits, emotions or thoughts you are currently doing that resonate with your power word. Do you want to tweak any of these in your life life? If so, what ones?
  4. How can you transform the areas of your life that currently do not currently resonate with your power word? Where will you start?
  5. How can you BE more by using your power word in your personal and professional life? For example – I can be more courageous (i.e. your power word) in my professional life by knowing my boundaries.

 

Over to You…

Congratulations if you have made it this far, you have identified your power word and ways you can use it in your personal and professional life! You may even like to put it as a screensaver on your phone to keep reminding yourself of it.

If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below. And remember…

“Words are powerful. The words you use and think of, may have impact on your life. May you enrich your life with positive thoughts.” ~ Lailah Gifty Akita

 

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

Is It Time to Start Measuring or Tracking within Your Career and Life?

Is It Time to Start Measuring or Tracking within Your Career and Life?

Change can be challenging (or maybe it is just me?). One thing I am doing more and more over time is measuring and tracking the changes I am making in my personal life, not just in my business / career. Subsequently, today I wanted to share –

  • What is Measuring and Tracking?
  • Why Measure and Track within Your Career and Life?
  • What Can You Measure and Track in Your Career and Life?
  • Is It Time to Start Measuring or Tracking within Your Career and Life?

Let’s get started…

 

What is Measuring and Tracking?

Before I go in to more details about measuring and tracking, I am doing to discuss what it actually is. If you choose to, you can measure and track data and information within your career and life. There is some crossover here in relation to definitions, so I have included both, so you can decide for yourself –

  • Data – “a fact given or granted” and “transmittable and storable information by which computer operations are performed” ~ Etymonline
  • Information – “act of informing, communication of news” and “knowledge communicated concerning a particular topic” ~ Etymonline
  • Data – “facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • Information – “knowledge that you get about someone or somethingfacts or details about a subject” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • Data – “information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer” ~ Cambridge Dictionary
  • Information – “facts about a situation, person, event, etc” ~ Cambridge Dictionary
  • Data – Facts that can be analyzed or used in an effort to gain knowledge or make decisions” ~ Free Dictionary
  • Information – Knowledge or facts learned, especially about a certain subject or event” ~ Free Dictionary

Do you have other definitions or insights in relation to the meanings data and information? If so, feel free to share them below!

Why Measure and Track within Your Career and Life?

Yes this may be obvious, however for clarity I am going to say it. If we do not measure and track information and data in relation to our feelings, actions and behaviours, how do we know if we are on the right path or master life?

“People without information cannot act. People with information, cannot help but act.” ~ Ken Blanchard. 

Measuring and tracking helps to –

  • make better decisions and take action,
  • guide changes and continuous improvement,
  • promote accountability and take responsibility for choices and decisions,
  • measure success and effectiveness (what ever that means for us),
  • look at current processes and systems meet your needs and make adjustments if required,
  • understand the causes of challenges within your career and/or life (if you have them),
  • know how well changes are going in relation to your plans, and
  • identify gaps between the results you are getting and where you want to and/or who you want to be.

As Victoria Bernhardt (2004) indicated –

“It takes strong leadership to inspire a shared vision and to ensure its implementation. It also takes a strong leader to ensure the analysis and use of data.” (p.5).

Even though the above statement is written in relation to schools, I see that it also relates to the individuals that work within schools and the greater community as well as in our wholistic lives.

 

What Can You Measure and Track in Your Career and Life?

There are many things you can measure in your career and life, however like most things it goes back to the intention or why behind tracking. Why do you want to track? Once you know the why, you can then decide the what you are going to track and then the how. You can measure and track –

  • Systems and processes (i.e. for tax preparation, planning processes) ,
  • Progression towards developing a habit (i.e. aiming for 8 hours of sleep per night, moving your body 5 times per week, stopping to check-in with how you are feeling before you reach for that extra piece of chocolate cake),
  • Results you are experiencing (i.e. running that half marathon or how long it take to find an important document),
  • Changes in beliefs and perceptions (i.e. how you are currently feeling about your life and how much control you feel you have of it),
  • Demographics (i.e. age, gender),
  • (Un)Learning and / or wisdom you are living (i.e. doing the things you know support your overall focus and wholistic life).

 

Is It Time to Start Measuring or Tracking within Your Career and Life?

Do you see the benefits of measuring and tracking for your life? If so, let’s get to the fun part and share some ways to measure and track. Following are how some of my clients are measuring and tracking within their career and life, including –

  • Money – for example: tracking income and expenses, looking at credit card statements to see how much they eat out.
  • Health – for example: tracking the number of hours of sleep they have, the food they eat or the number of steps taken across the week.
  • Time – for example: their calendar shows where they invest their time and energy each week and/or month.
  • Feelings / emotions – for example: using a feelings / emotions tracker to identify different patterns that are occurring so they can start to untangle from them if they choose to.

Until it is a habit, tracking and measuring can be challenging. However, I have found doing it really useful for feedback. One thing I encourage though is to be really clear about why you are tracking (i.e the purpose and meaning), not just track for the sake of it. This relates back to Goodhart’s Law

“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure” (Strathern, 1997). 

And this is where we can bring it back to the SMART acronym. The SMART acronym for goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based). As you can see the M is measurable.

Over to You…

Do you see the benefits of measuring and tracking for your life? If so, what is one way you can start today? Feel free to share your insights or questions below. Personally I will continue to measure and track as it really helps me see how my whole life ebbs and flows –

“A system is not the sum of its parts, but rather, the product of the interaction of the parts.” ~ Russell Ackoff

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

References –

Bernhardt, V. L., (2004). Continuous improvement: It takes more than test scores. ACSA Leadership. November/December 2004, 16-19.

Strathern, Marilyn (1997). Improving ratings’: audit in the British University system”European Review. John Wiley & Sons. 5 (3): 305–321. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1234-981X(199707)5:3<305::AID-EURO184>3.0.CO;2-4.

Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport

Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport

We all experience stress in our daily lives and athletes are no different. How we experience that stress depends on how we choose to think about the stress, feel the stress and respond to the stress.

“It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Eustress vs Distress

Stress is not always “bad” thing. It is subjective, so something that is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else. Stress can motivate us to change habits and move us closer to our chosen dreams, and aspirations. If we felt no stress, we would not be compelled to act in ways that bring about conscious and meaningful change.

There are a few different types of stress we can experience, however essentially they fall in to two different categories – eustress and distress.  What are some of the differences between eustress and distress?

Glad you asked have a look at the graphic below…

 

Some Possible Examples of Eustress and Distress In Elite Sport for Athletes

As we all manage stress differently, it is hard to categorise stress objectively. However, following is a table that identifies a list of stressors for athletes within elite sport that have been divided in to example of eustress and distress for athletes.

Are there any other possible example of eustress or distress for athletes in sport you would add? If so, what are they? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.

 

Questions for Reflection –

Following are a couple of questions for reflection on stress.

  • How do you typically respond to stressful events in your life?
  • Do you allow yourself to sit with stress and use the stressful energy constructively? or Do you feel overwhelmed by stress and turn towards a state of panic or physical/emotional withdrawal?

 

Over to You…

Remember, change is a constant part of life and from every experience we can practice new ways of responding to stress instead of reacting.

Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?

 

Poem – She Let Go

Poem – She Let Go

During the past few years, I have been realising that life is a lot about (un)learning and giving up or untangling from what no longer serves us. Subsequently, today I wanted to share with you this poem. Hope you enjoy the “Poem – She Let Go” by Reverend Safire Rose.

 

She Let Go…

Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

~ Reverend Safire Rose

 

Over to You…

What did you enjoy about the Poem – She Let Go? Did it remind you about something in your life? What does it mean to you? Time to reconnect with your courage?

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