Coping with Stress at Work

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If you have ever found yourself coping with stress (or someone) at work, you are not alone. Many people face stress at work, and sparing time for yourself is one of the best strategies to cope with this stress.

Coping is defined as all kinds of thoughts or behaviors you have in order to help manage the demands of the life. As per Lazarus and Folkman, there are two fundamental ways to cope: Development-oriented and prevention-oriented coping.

Development-oriented coping includes the behaviors and ideas that will take your current situation one step closer to your ideal situation. Development-oriented coping behaviors are directed by our need for success and growth.

Development-oriented coping represents probably a majority of the recommendations you hear about coping with the problems at work. Learn and do what you can do to solve the problem; plan on changing the way you do things in the future; ask your boss, your friends or your colleagues for help, or solve the problem to the best of your ability. These coping behaviors are there to solve the problem, instead of ignoring it or just complaining about it.

Prevention-oriented coping includes everything that you say or do in order to reduce the chances of your current situation not matching your ideal situation. Ignoring or complaining is called prevention-oriented coping. This can include the need for a change in the future or minimization of any possible stress, instead of changing something that is expected or needed at the moment. The needs for safety and security direct the prevention-oriented coping behaviors.

In a new meta-analysis carried out by Zhang, Zhang, Ng and Lam (2019) to analyze results of many other studies, coping strategies of more than 75,000 people were analyzed and measured to see if they were suitable.

The researchers found that the development-oriented coping was associated with a better performance at work, such as carrying out basic tasks, making contributions to the organizational effectiveness, and better work-related attitudes. Development-oriented coping is also associated with the increasing physical and psychological welfare. On the other hand, prevention-oriented coping, such as denial, is associated with a lower performance of task, worse job-related attitudes, and worse physical and psychological well-being.

Whenever possible, choose development-oriented coping strategies in order to have a faster progress about the problems. Development-oriented strategies may seem like more work at the beginning, yet ignoring or rejecting the problems at work does not actually eliminate them.