Life is beautiful and for once; but life is not devoid of ups and downs which we all have to go through some time or the other during our whole life time. While good times bring immense joy to us so does bad times leave us depressed and hurt. Life seems worthless and dull when things go wrong and we don’t know how to survive through such times. Daily stressors and the resultant negative effects leave us emotionally drained and physically weak. We tend to get mentally pressed down under the numerous demands and conflicts in life that weigh us down every day.
Just the way we welcome and embrace good times similarly we can’t turn our face away from difficult and challenging times as well. We have to face every single moment of our life with wisdom and go through each phase successfully without getting overwhelmed or defeated by either happiness or misery respectively. Hence to do so we need to learn and apply survival strategies in the form of coping skills to deal effectively with challenging situations and also to remain on level ground during joyous times.
Importance of survival strategies and coping skills
Survival strategies as the name suggests are tactics to sail through difficult times and these are employed by the mind and the mental strength of an individual determines how matured and wise his survival strategies are to equip him against the negative effects of difficult times and stressful situations. Survival strategies are manifested through the various coping skills and styles that we use to justify ourselves the occurrence of a situation and also to abate the effects of chronic stress. Coping skills are employed by all of us but how effective are those depend on our lifestyle and also cognitive processes. The more we are careful about ourselves and have developed and matured styles of thinking the better and more effective will be our coping skills.
Coping skills are employed to minimize the stress created by conflicts and frustrations that grip us when things go wrong. In the absence of coping skills we would lose mental balance and cease to function normally in our daily life. Though we may employ coping skills according to our mental makeup yet we need to train ourselves with matured coping styles by employing our positive resources that enable us to handle challenging situations and come out of hard phases successfully.
Challenging situations may arise all of a sudden for which an individual may not even be prepared for like the loss of a loved one, a divorce or a trauma causing event like a natural disaster. But there are also pressing situations which grow gradually and may last for a lifetime to which the individual has to cope to live life in the best possible way. Such situations are like that of an abusive relationship or an unhappy marriage, a terminal illness, a mentally challenged child and so on. Thus coping skills are which that makes a human being build mental immunity to deal with such threatening and challenging situations.
We require coping skills not only to maintain emotional and mental balance but also physical health as continuous stress and mental pressure directly affects our various physical functions by weakening our immunity. We therefore fall prey to diseases like cardiac problems, hypertension, high blood pressure, various infections and the like. People suffering from stress related problems definitely have poor coping skills and therefore become easy victims of the negative effects of challenging situations.
Employing coping skills to improve quality of life
Quality of life is the level of overall wellbeing we have which includes our physical, mental, social and also spiritual wellbeing. When we fall prey to difficult and stressful situations our quality of life gets hampered and therefore we employ coping skills both through actions and emotional training to maintain and improve our general wellbeing. It’s a natural phenomenon that all of us will face difficult situations through which we have to sail through and eventually maintain our quality of life.
The coping skills follow various ways and stages; we try to modify the ways in which we think about the situation either by trying to avoid it or denying it. Sometimes we may even try to find out the cause of the problem and therefore through problem solving find a relevant solution for the same. We may also follow certain lifestyle modifications and actions that may help us to be in a better position to handle problem causing situations. Therefore a complex interplay of various types of coping skills done in a mature way can ensure a better quality of life even in the midst of ups and downs.
While dealing with any situation by using coping skills first we must assess the situation. Initial denial and anger are normal but gradually accepting the situation and thinking what and how to do after that is where matured coping skills begin. If the situation is too unbearable to be handled alone there is no harm in seeking comfort and support from family members, friends and loved ones. If necessary there is also no wrong in seeking professional help from a counselor or therapist.
However for situations that we may think we can handle ourselves involve a number of ground rules. First of all we must take proper care of ourselves; without tending to our essential needs like proper eating and rest we won’t be in a position to help ourselves. Smoking, alcohol or any other bad habit doesn’t abate our stress in the long run but make it more severe. Therefore following a healthy lifestyle is important. Deep breathing, meditation and yoga can make our mind and body feel calm and relaxed. Taking relaxation therapies and massages also help us to take control of situations in a better way.
The most important ground rule of any matured coping style is to think positively. Imagine a situation in the near future which will be free of the stressful situation and believe in it, it gives a lot of strength to the mind. Evaluate your resources and options and begin to think how to live with the situation or if there is any possible way out of the situation. Writing is a powerful way of releasing stress as it has a great cathartic effect by purging the mind of its bitterness and grudges. Rather than withdrawing reach out for people and maintain a healthy social life by being connected with friends, family and even support groups. This makes a person see and realize that there are also other people out there who are suffering in similar or different situations and he also learns coping skills through which others have survived successfully.