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The Top Three Coping Methods

The three coping methods that I describe in this article were originated by psychologist Dr. Kumar Mahi. Dr. Mahi has a graduate background specializing in stress research.

Living, working and studying in Puducherry, India has given him a unique perspective on stress issues.

As a developing country, India's explosive growth over the past decades has resulted in an upsetting of strong traditions and cultural practices.

While the Hindu way of life is still very real for contemporary Indians, new technology, employment dynamics, educational stressors, cultural encroachments and international tensions are crowding into their once-simple existence.

Physical, psychological and social stressors abound... cultivating masses of people ripe for the harmful effects of stress.

During his graduate research, Dr. Mahi identified and described three coping methods that seem to work best for the vast majority of people.

Briefly, they are... 1) Proactive Coping, 2) Meaning Making and 3) Religious Coping.

In each section describing the coping methods below, I will include examples of how they can be practiced in everyday life.

Proactive Coping Methods

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The idea behind proactive coping is to prepare ourselves to handle stressful events before they can occur. This is the psychological equivalent of the classic political saying (which is now a sports maxim)... "The best defense is a good offense."

So keep this in mind... stress reduction, stress management and coping with stress are activities that we can execute before the stressor occurs, while it is happening to us and after the fact.

Proactive coping methods form the collective approach to dealing with stress that is both preventative and aggressive at the same time.

Part of proactive coping is seeking challenges that will help us grow as human beings. These same challenges could also drag us down... But if we go looking for them and approach them purposefully, they will help us deal with the unexpected things that always seem to pop up in life.

Proactive coping also includes anticipation. We need to anticipate things that can go wrong in a given situation. (Especially the times that our intuition warns us may be in "high risk" situations). This does not mean living like pessimistic alarmists though....

Christ told us to "...be ye therefore wise as serpents, but harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16) This powerful mixture of wisdom and pureness of motive is the type of proactive attitude that equips us to deal with stressful life events.

We can decide right now to invest personal, emotional, spiritual and social resources effectively. Rather than waiting for the stressors to sneak up on us, then being taken by surprise... we can learn to anticipate stressful events, challenge ourselves to face them and be prepared when the actual stressors occur.

Simple examples of proactive coping...

- Preparing for an exam or interview well in advance through practice, study, research etc.

- Consiously managing our time... and our relationships. Staying away from things and people that drag us down or discourage us from realizing God's will for our lives.

- Establishing a plan or a goal that aligns with God's Word and our God-given good judgment... and making a commitment to see it through to the end.

Proactive coping methods include a change in attitude that focuses on present and future events.

Recommended Reading... The Zero Stress Zone: "A Layman's Guide to Stress Management"



Meaning Making

In meaning making, we can do something to cope with stress after the stressful event occurs.

This probably means changing the way we think, feel or act to help us deal with what has happened. These three things (thinking, feeling and acting) all work closely together. Depending on your personality type and how you are handling the stress, you may be able to influence your feelings and actions by changing your thinking, or influence your thinking and feeling by changing your actions.

Words like reorganizing, reinterpreting, reframing and restructuring describe this type of inner shift.

Meaning Making includes looking at the positive side of stressful events... choosing to see any good that comes of difficult circumstances, even if it is only a lesson learned in patience or endurance. (Many scriptures on patience, longsuffering and perseverance come to mind here).

Christian Life Coaching finds ways to use stressful events as lessons, turning them around to our advantage and using them to set and achieve new life goals as directed by God through His Word and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Psychotherapy is an effort to change ourselves to fit the unchangeable external realities that we are facing.

Simple examples of meaning making...

- Treating failure as feedback and adjusting our approach to a situation accordingly.

- Viewing change as a challenge and an opportunity for growth and personal development, rather than something to be feared.

- Treating obstacles as opportunities to practice what we have learned and draw upon the strength, grace and guidance that God promises us as His children.

Meaning Making is changing our response to a past or present stressful life event.

Recommended reading...
The Stress Owner's Manual: Meaning, Balance and Health in Your Life

Religious Coping Methods

No matter what your religion looks like in practice, (there are even many religious variations within the body of Christ) modern psychology tells us that there is some innate benefit in reaching out to a higher power for help in stressful times.

Religion (and more specifically, a relationship with God) offers us a framework for understanding, interpreting and accepting stressful life events.

People who are established and fully persuaded in their religious traditions tend to fare better during hard times. Religion helps us to make sense of seemingly random adverse circumstances.

If religion by itself can be such a psychological helper, imagine how powerful a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe could be!

True faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, Redeemer and Lord... in His intercession with our righteous and holy Father and their completely fulfilled relationship as Godhead with the Holy Spirit is far more powerful than common religious coping methods.

Religion can be great for some people but damaging for others because it is inherently flawed as an institution of human beings. Relationship, on the other hand, is designed, prescribed, instituted and instigated by God. Even the most religious decrees and doctrines of the Christian faith are designed to draw us into closer relationship with our Creator.

Simple examples of religious coping methods...

- Surrendering ourselves to God the Almighty in the middle of uncontrollable circumstances.

- Resting in the scriptural reassurance that God is in control of the situation, no matter how out-of-control it may seem.

- Crying out for help, quieting our troubled minds, re-aligning ourselves with God's will and casting our cares upon Him through prayer.

Religious coping is transforming oneself beyond ones own personal limits to gain strength and acceptance from a greater source.

Recommended Reading...
God's Stress Management Plan

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Find out about James Klotzle's new Stress Management book: God In Our Stress Find out about James Klotzle's new book...

God In Our Stress: the Christian's Guide to Stress Management






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Working with a coach can help you to develop more coping methods and excellent ways of dealing with stress. Click Here for a Free Consultation!
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Working with a coach can help you to develop more coping methods and excellent ways of dealing with stress.
Click Here for a Free Consultation!










New Book Offer!



Find out about James Klotzle's new Stress Management book: God In Our Stress Find out about James Klotzle's new book...

God In Our Stress: the Christian's Guide to Stress Management











Visit Dr. Mahi's blog to view his research and more of his helpful coping methods and stress resources.
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