Coping is the employment of conscious or unconscious tactics to cope with negative emotions. Individual or social coping techniques might be cognitions or behaviours.

Coping strategies

Hundreds of coping mechanisms have been discovered. There is no consensus on how to classify these tactics into a larger architecture. Researchers use rational grouping, empirical component analysis, or a combination of both techniques to group coping responses. Folkman and Lazarus divided coping strategies into four categories in the beginning: problem-focused, emotion-focused, support-seeking, and meaning-making coping. Appraisal-focused (adaptive cognitive), problem-focused (adaptive behavioural), emotion-focused, and occupation-focused coping are the four categories of coping techniques discovered by Weiten. One of the emotion-focused coping strategies offered by Billings and Moos is avoidance coping. Because the techniques are not independent of one another, several scholars have questioned the psychometric validity of forced classification. Furthermore, people can use numerous coping techniques at the same time in reality.

People typically utilise a combination of coping mechanisms, which may alter over time. Although any of these tactics can be beneficial, others argue that those who utilise problem-focused coping strategies will adjust to life more quickly. Problem-focused coping techniques can give people a sense of control over their problems, whereas emotion-focused coping might sometimes make them feel less in control (maladaptive coping).


Lazarus “marks the relationship between his concept of ‘defensive reappraisals,’ or cognitive coping, and Freud’s concept of ‘ego-defenses,'” coping tactics therefore overlapping with a person’s defence mechanisms.

Coping techniques based on appraisals

When someone uses appraisal-focused (adaptive cognitive) methods, they change the way they think, such as denial or distancing themselves from the situation. Appraisal coping strategies are used by people who want to change their perspective on their condition in order to have a more optimistic outlook. An individual acquiring sports tickets knowing their medical condition would likely prevent them from attending is an example of assessment coping methods. “Some have hypothesised that comedy may play a stronger function as a stress modulator among women than men,” according to one study.

Behavioral coping techniques that are adaptive

Coping strategies or coping skills are terms used to describe psychological coping mechanisms. Adaptive (constructive) coping mechanisms, or stress-reduction measures, are often referred to as coping. Other coping techniques, on the other hand, may be labelled as maladaptive if they raise stress. As a result of its effect, maladaptive coping is often referred to as non-coping. Furthermore, the term coping is sometimes used to refer to reactive coping, or the coping reaction that occurs after a stressful event. This differs from proactive coping, which seeks to prevent a future stressor from occurring. Generally, subconscious or unconscious coping strategies (such as defence mechanisms) are not included.

The success of the coping effort is determined by the type of stress, the person, and the situation. Personality (habitual qualities) and the social environment, particularly the type of the stressful setting, both influence coping responses. Problem-focused techniques attempt to address the source of the problem. They accomplish this by gathering knowledge about the problem and gaining new abilities to address it. The goal of problem-focused coping is to change or eliminate the source of stress. Taking charge, obtaining knowledge, and weighing the pros and drawbacks are the three problem-focused coping strategies. Problem-focused coping, on the other hand, may not be adaptive and may even backfire, particularly in the uncontrollable instance when the problem will not go away.

Coping theory in health

The health theory of coping tries to solve the shortcomings of earlier coping theories by characterising coping techniques in categories that are conceptually explicit, mutually exclusive, comprehensive, functionally homogeneous, functionally distinct, generative, and adaptable. Although all coping techniques are effective in reducing acute discomfort, they are classified as healthy or unhealthy based on the potential of additional negative repercussions. Self-soothing, relaxation/distraction, social support, and professional support are all healthy categories. Negative self-talk, destructive activities (e.g. emotional eating, verbal or physical aggression, alcohol, drugs, self-harm), social disengagement, and suicidality are all unhealthy coping mechanisms. When healthy coping techniques are overwhelmed, unhealthy coping strategies are adopted, not when healthy coping strategies are not available.

Some coping approaches view it as a process and advocate for the promotion of self-care strategies.

Coping styles: reactive and proactive

The majority of coping is reactive, meaning that it occurs in response to stressors. Proactive coping, also known as future-oriented coping, is the act of anticipating and reacting to a future stressor. Anticipation is the process of reducing the stress of a challenging problem by predicting what it will be like and planning how to deal with it.

Social Coping

Individuals are placed within a social environment, which can be stressful but also provides coping tools, such as seeking social support from others, according to social coping.

Negative methods (maladaptive coping or non-coping)

Emotion based coping strategies


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