What is ineffective coping?

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What is ineffective coping?

According to the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, ineffective coping is defined as “the state in which the pattern of coping is maladaptive and unworkable, producing either excessive or insufficient adaptive behavior”.  This means that someone is unable to react or behave in a healthy manner for the situation they are experiencing. This could be due to many factors including stress, anxiety, fatigue, substance abuse, etc.

What causes ineffective coping?

In the article, “Nursing students’ experience with stress and their ability to cope” by Sabrineh Akhlaghi, she states that “stress has been identified as one of the major causes of psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. It often occurs when people feel overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them.” This proves true for many who suffer from ineffective coping; they are unable to manage or carry out necessary tasks and reacts due to stress and anxiety. You may be experiencing stress if you answer yes to any of these questions:

  • Do I feel pressured because there is too much for me to handle at once?
  • Have I experienced a change in my life that has affected my moods?
  • Is it difficult for me to focus on the task at hand?
  • Do I feel exhausted or tired even if I don’t have much to do?
  • Do I experience mood swings, worry excessively, or feel sad for little reason?
  • Am I unable to focus due to disturbing thoughts?
  • Have sources of negative energy replaced my positive ones in life?”

As you can see, stress is closely linked with coping. Whether it be because of a certain event or just day-to-day living that has an effect on your mental well-being. Other factors also contribute to ineffective coping such as substance abuse and illness. If not resolved these issues can lead up to more serious conditions including depression and heart disease.

The purpose of this article is to inform readers about what ineffective coping looks like through the eyes of others as well as some ways to effectively cope with an issue before it gets out of hand. Not everyone will experience ineffective coping but if you do recognize any of these signs/symptoms it may be time to seek help before your problematic behavior becomes more complex.

Signs of ineffective coping

Ineffective coping manifests itself in many ways, from the way a person eats to the way they handle their emotions. Some signs that maybe you are experiencing some form of ineffective coping could include:

-Emotional distress

-Exhaustion

-Inability to concentrate

-Mood swings or sudden changes in moods

-Lack of motivation or drive

-Changes in appetite or sleep patterns

 How do I know if my coping is effective?

If your coping style isn’t working you will notice it through your behaviors and emotions. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling with others as this may help bring about results of an effective solution. In order for coping to be effective it has to have these components:

-The ability to deal with stress

-Be able to plan for the future

-Be flexible in their behaviors/thoughts

-Emotional control

How to cope with ineffective coping

In order to successfully manage your stress and anxiety, it is important that you first recognize the signs/symptoms that you are currently experiencing. This will help bring to light what is triggering your problematic behaviors as well as how they affect your everyday life. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or sad without a reason, take a moment to assess what may be going on in your life in comparison with others around you thus creating this sense of sadness or emptiness in your life.

Once you have recognized these symptoms try taking some time for yourself to rest, relax, and eat healthy! When we neglect ourselves our bodies retaliate by giving us warning signs such as tiredness, lack of concentration, and irritability. Once you have recognized these symptoms take a step back from the situation and breathe! Take two minutes to do some yoga breathing or try writing out what is going on in your life as well as how you feel about it all. This will help you draw a focus towards the problem at hand as well as help alleviate some of that pressure we put on ourselves when we don’t talk through our problems.

As I discussed earlier, there are many factors that contribute to ineffective coping such as illness and substance abuse. If you find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, cigarettes, and/or drugs then chances are your coping mechanism isn’t working. Self-medicating with substances only takes away from your problem temporarily but once those substances leave your system you’re left with the same problems and most likely some new ones such as addiction.

Another thing to keep in mind is that nobody can make decisions for you; we all have free will and the ability to choose our own paths. That being said, if your coping is ineffective and you don’t like where life has taken you, it’s time to reevaluate and make a conscious decision about how and what direction you want your life to take!  For nurses or student nurses looking to find help, we have an extensive article on ineffective nursing coping mechanisms.

Nurses or Nursing students

If you’re a nurse or someone who has your mental health in check you can help others who are experiencing issues with their coping skills. Read our extensive ineffective nursing coping mechanisms article to find out how nurses and professionals deal with coping issues.

Some ways to help those who are struggling include:

-Ask how they are doing and really listen

-Be supportive by validating their feelings, this could be done by offering positive feedback or just simply saying “I understand what you’re feeling”

-Remind them that there is hope if they seek professional help through resources such as 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911 for emergencies. It is important to note that everyone experiences ineffective coping at some point in life but it should not become a persistent battle against yourself. If necessary please seek out resources before your mental state gets worse.

What is effective coping

Effective coping mechanism refers to the processes individuals use to manage stressful events and daily hassles. Our bodies are constantly under stress due to our fast-paced lifestyles, work demands, family responsibilities, financial pressures, etc. Coping is the way that we respond to these stressors; it can be conscious or unconscious actions that help us solve problems and change stressful situations into manageable ones. Effective coping helps you feel in control of your life and promotes healthy mental and physical well-being.

According to the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, effective coping is one of the most vital nursing diagnoses for client care. The ability to cope effectively with life’s demands and stressors is essential in order to maintain overall wellness and good physical health. Effective coping can be seen when a person is able to acknowledge change or a problem, recognize the cause of the problem, develop effective strategies to deal with the problem, implement those strategies and see that they are working, and maintain healthy boundaries between oneself and others (NANDA, 2015).

Effective coping may help you better manage:

-Stress

-Anxiety

-Resistance to Disease

-Lifestyle Choices

People who use coping skills effectively report lower levels of emotional distress than those who do not. People who engage in healthy coping tend to be more resilient in dealing with stress, have a positive body image and self-efficacy, experience higher levels of physical functioning, and report having better quality relationships.

Reasons why some people cope effectively:

-They recognize what is threatening them or causing them stress and anxiety

-Instead of avoiding problems they face them head-on

-They choose healthy ways to calm down: yoga, breathing exercises, etc. Other soothing methods include reading a book or listening to soft music

-They focus on the present moment instead of past events that may trigger negative emotions such as guilt or sadness. Instead, they look forward to the future at things they are grateful for such as family members and friends

Some helpful coping strategies:

-Talking to a close friend or family member

-Exercising for at least 30 minutes (This can reduce stress and anxiety and boosts your mood)

-Appreciating what you have in life: Taking time to reflect on your surroundings and center yourself. Remember, gratitude is one of the most powerful keys to wellness!

Conclusion

In summary, ineffective coping is when a person feels overwhelmed and cannot find the resources they need to manage their stressors. Ineffective coping can lead to many mental and physical issues such as anxiety, depression, poor immune function, fatigue, weight gain/weight loss, heart disease, etc. An effective coping mechanism is vital in maintaining wellness and overall health. There are several ways that a person may cope with life’s stressors; it all depends on what works best for you!

References:

NANDA International (2015). NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification 2015-2017. Oxfordshire UK: Wiley Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Parra Galindo G., Marsiglia D., & Becerra J. M. (2006).

Frequently Asked Questions

Is shopping a coping mechanism?

People are not the same, so various coping strategies work for different individuals. Shopping can be a way to cope when you feel overwhelmed by life’s stressors, but it won’t necessarily take away your troubles. Not unless it is done in the right way. I would consider it a temporary solution to the bigger problem because spending money provides a brief reprieve from negative emotions. It is better to solve the underlying reasons for a long terms solution to the problem.

To help yourself cope with stressful situations in a healthy way, try these tips:

-Find a friend or family member who will listen to you and support you

-Do something nice for someone else, even if it is just sending their day with kind thoughts

-If shopping makes you happy go ahead and do it! Just remember that retail therapy only works temporarily to relieve stress. In the end, make sure shopping isn’t causing more problems in your life!

Remember, shopping in its extreme form can be diagnosed as Compulsive Buying Disorder which is considered to be similar to addiction, so if this is an issue for you or someone you know seek professional help.

This condition has significant financial costs, but it can also have an impact on a person’s social and personal life.

Is sleeping a coping mechanism?

Taking a nap is definitely a better coping mechanism than spending money.

Sleeping is actually very important to the body because it is when your energy levels are restored, and your immune system works to balance out hormones that affect how you feel. Sleep also allows the brain time to process information, make connections between ideas, experiences, memories, etc., store short-term memory in long-term memory, develop new skills and abilities, imagine new possibilities for the future.

It’s no wonder why people who sleep well report having more positive moods!

A study done by Johns Hopkins University found that participants who managed seven or eight hours of sleep had less risk of developing depression than those who regularly received less than six or more than nine hours of sleep per night.

However, like shopping, it is also a temporary fix. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 20-30-minute nap “provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.” Be that as it may, sleep alone is not enough as a remedy. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Effective coping with stress also involves communicating effectively with others, confronting problems directly and learning to live with unavoidable stress.”

A study done by Johns Hopkins University found that participants who managed seven or eight hours of sleep had less risk of developing depression than those who regularly received less than six or more than nine hours of sleep per night.

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as professional advice. For advice on specific concerns please consult your health care provider.

It all depends on what works best for you!

Have a great day 😀

The above statements are general rules of thumb and may not apply to everyone in every situation. This article is for information purposes only, so it’s important to check with your doctor or other medical professionals before trying anything that may be considered a coping mechanism.

What is Coping?

Coping means working to manage, tolerate, reduce the effects of stress in one’s life. This can include emotional stressors (such as anxiety), physical stressors (such as illness), or even environmental stressors (such as pollution).

When it comes to coping, everyone has different strategies that work best for them depending on what situation they are experiencing. Here are some ideas that might help you cope during difficult times:

  • Find someone you trust – Someone who can be a sounding board and help you figure out what your next step could be. This might be a friend or family member, but it could also be someone at work or in the community (a counselor, coach, etc.)
  • Take care of yourself – If you are feeling overwhelmed put those basic needs first! Make sure to eat well, drink enough water and get enough sleep.
  • Talk about it – There is no shame in having a difficult time coping with stressful situations. Sometimes just getting things off of our chest can make us feel better 🙂
  • Find support – Reach out to people who have been there before and know how you’re feeling. This might include friends/family/co-workers/online forums…etc.
  • -Crowded places like malls and grocery stores are already stressful to go to, but when you add in the constant need to get things done while also working to keep your children happy it can feel downright overwhelming.

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as professional advice. For advice on specific concerns please consult your health care provider.

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