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Problem-focused coping

Step 1:
Identify the problem
This is the most important action you'll take. You can't manage your stress unless you know what's causing it. Make a list of the things you know cause you stress. Then select one to work on.

Step 2:
Break the problem down into specific parts
Make certain you describe all of the elements. Ask yourself these questions:
Who and what are involved?
Where and when does it happen?
How do I react?

Step 3
Make a list of all possible solutions
Decide what you want out of the situation. Then brainstorm ways to solve your problem. Ask yourself these questions:
Can I change the stressful situation?
Can I avoid it?
Can I change how I respond to it?

Step 4
Explore the consequences of each solution
Once you've made your list, look at the pros and cons for each option. How will it make you feel? What affect will it have on the other people involved? What are the short-term and long-term consequences? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Now rank the alternatives and choose the solution that promises the best outcome.

Step 5
Set your course
Write down your plan, if you think it will help. Discussing it with a trusted friend, family member or co-worker may be useful, if your stress is due to conflict with another person, consider rehearsing what you'll say or do when the conflict occurs. Revise and rework your plan until you feel comfortable with it.

Step 6
Go for it
You may find that having a plan in place will boost your confidence.

Step 7
Take some time to reflect on what helped and what didn't
Make changes to your strategy if you need to. Otherwise, celebrate your success.

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