Handling Stress with Finesse - TestYourself Research Shows The Benefits of Developing Practical Coping Skills
TestYourself.com's latest study indicates that taking an active rather than reactive approach to coping with stress can make all the difference.
MONTREAL, CANADA (MARKETWIRE) -- November 30, 2012
TestYourself.com, a pioneer in online personality, IQ, and career tests, has released its newest study on stress management. Their research reveals that people who actively use healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress are more likely to be happy with their life, their job, and their relationships.
The idea of stress as being just a fact of life is a prevailing myth that does more harm than good. Stressed at work? So is the rest of the world. Family responsibilities getting out of hand? Stand in line. On the verge of a nervous breakdown or burnout and need a vacation? Who doesn't? The problem is, believing that stress is an inevitable reality of human existence can breed passivity in the least, and at its worst, a sense of complete and utter helplessness. Research from TestYourself.com reveals that the manner in which people cope with stress can have a significant impact on their life - and there are several practical, healthy coping strategies that anyone can adopt to deal with difficult situations. That is why some people can handle stress with ease while others under the same stressful conditions completely break down.
Collecting data from nearly 9,000 people using their Coping and Stress Management Skills Test, TestYourself research reveals that people who consistently use healthy coping strategies tend to experience less conflict with others, are more satisfied with their job, and happier with their life in general. Their most common methods of coping with stress include:
TestYourself's data indicates that the most common underlying reasons why depressed people procrastinate include:
- Positive Cognitive Restructuring: An emotion-focused coping mechanism that is useful when dealing with stressors that a person can't change or control (e.g. death of a family member, long-term illness). Positive cognitive restructuring involves reframing the way a person views a situation - putting it in perspective, or finding the silver lining. For example: "There are a lot of people in this world whose life is much worse than mine." "Being diagnosed with this illness has brought my family closer together."
- Problem-Solving: A problem-focused strategy that is useful when a stressor is controllable (e.g. a difficult client at work; heavy workload; taking an exam at school). Problem-solving, as its name implies, involves taking active steps to modify or reduce a stressor. For example, a manager can reduce the stress of a heavy workload by delegating tasks to a subordinate. A student who is stressed about a final exam can join a study group or obtain the expertise of tutor or counselor.
- Negotiation: Another problem-focused strategy, negotiation involves modifying goals or behavior in order to better adapt to or resolve a stressful situation. For example, parents dealing with a teenager who is pushing his or her boundaries can use negotiation to find a curfew time that both parties can live with.
On the flipside, TestYourself's data shows that those who are unhappy with their job and their life, and who face a great deal of conflict in their relationships are more likely to use "empty" and passive coping strategies, including Rumination (thinking obsessively about a source of stress), Opposition (lashing out or blaming others), and Social Withdrawal (avoiding contact with others).
"A lot of people believe that because stress is so common, it's one of those things that you just have to ride out, but that's where the problems start - the high blood pressure, the digestion problems, the insomnia," explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. "The truth is, we are not as helpless against stress as we think. We are often amazed by people who have been through the most difficult human experiences but still manage to lead happy lives, but what's behind this amazing resilience is a set of healthy coping strategies, like a strong social support and the ability to 'find the silver lining.' The bottom line is that while you may not be able to change a stressful situation that you are in, you can learn strategies to help you deal with it more effectively."
Here are some tips from TestYourself on practical methods to deal with stress:
- Exercise. Not only does regular exercise promote good health and high self-esteem, but according to research, it also helps battle anxiety and depression. Exercise releases tension and feel-good hormones. Try working out for a half hour or more at least 3 times a week. Choosing activities where you're outside can also be a naturally soothing experience. Going to the gym not your thing? Go for a walk, join a dancing class or get a yoga DVD.
- Stop the rumination trap. Over-thinking problems in your life and allowing them to take over your inner banter can make the problem seem even more overwhelming. If you find yourself obsessing over a problem, make an effort to stop those thoughts in their tracks. Pick up an engrossing book, watch a comedy on television, or go for a bike ride.
- Join a community. Any activity that brings you together with like-minded people will help you increase your support base. While it may take time for you to feel comfortable opening up to new people, simply being around others is uplifting on its own. Whether you are dealing with a health problem, psychological issue or family difficulties, there is likely to be a support group or forum online or offline that you can join. Volunteering can also be a therapeutic experience. Helping others not only makes you feel better, but can really put your own problems in perspective.
- Get a pet. Provided that you have the resources (and the willingness) to care for an animal, pet ownership can be a great stress-buster. Some research shows that the positive impact of dog ownership approaches that of social support! Better yet, combine pet ownership with exercise by taking your furry friend to dog sports classes. If, for practical reasons, you can't have a pet, you can still draw some benefits by volunteering in an animal shelter, or offering to walk the dog of an elderly neighbor.
- Try a news vacation. Take a break from watching the news or reading the newspaper if it's a habit you have. World news focuses on calamity, violence, ill fortune and pending disasters. This is especially important when there is a disaster unfolding in your own world. Watching the news too much can be overwhelming and could leave you feeling all-the-more helpless.
"If it starts raining, don't get depressed about the bad weather. Just open an umbrella!" Unknown
Those interested in assessing their coping skills and getting advice on how to deal with stress can go to:
TestYourself.com is a subsidiary of PsychTests AIM Inc. TestYourself.com is a site that creates an interactive venue for self-exploration with a healthy dose of fun. The site offers a full range of professional-quality, scientifically-validated psychological assessments that empower people to grow and reach their real potential through insightful feedback and detailed, custom-tailored analysis.
About Psychtests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts. The company's research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.
Psychtests AIM Inc.
Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D., President