Coping Strategies To Manage Stress In The Workplace

Posted by Aaron Keegan 01-Nov-2016 15:45:12

Let's see what are the strategies employees use to manage stress in the workplace.

There are two types of ways we can deal with stress:

Problem focused
Emotion focused

While, problem focused is a much more effective way to manage stress in the workplace, emotion focused strategies are valuable in certain situations. It is important to be aware of these mechanisms and to understand the differences between emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping, and how they can work together.

Each of us has methods for coping with the stressors we face each day. We have practised and honed these methods over the course of our lives until they have become a reflex. Our methods have been formed from the responses that have relieved stress in the past. When faced with new stressors, we tend to use these same ways of coping we've always used. Sometimes these methods work well, but many times there are better ways to cope.

Problem-Focused Coping

There are five types of problem-focused coping methods. When we use these methods, we are trying to solve the problem.

1. Active coping is taking action to get rid of the problem. You raise your effort to cope with the problem. You avoid getting sidetracked. Your day to day tasks are ordered in the best way to help you solve the problem.

2. Planning is first thinking about how best to deal with the problem. After some thought, you make a plan of action and follow through.

3. Positive reframing is thinking about the stressor in a new way that throws a better light on the stressor. This will lead to active coping methods.

4. Acceptance is being honest about the truth of a stressor. When we accept, we can learn to live with that truth. Acceptance stands in firm contrast to Denial (a method of emotion-focused coping).

5. Social support from colleagues, friends, family. This can come either as instrumental support or emotional support.

Instrumental support is getting advice and help from other people about what to do.

Emotional support is finding comfort, warmth, and understanding from others.

For the most part, when you use any of these coping methods, you are able to bounce back more often. You're also less likely to get stressed out or sick.

Emotion-Focused Coping

You will probably recognise the five emotion-focused techniques below, in fact you may have used them and they can be very helpful in the short term. These methods of dealing with stress are often used when you feel like you don't have any control over the situation. Emotion-focused coping tends to be the first way most of us start to deal with a stressor.

1. Denial is when we refuse to believe that the stressor exists. We try to act as though the stressor is not friend_supportreal. It's as if we think, "Maybe, if I ignore it for long enough, it will go away."

2. Behavioural disengagement is to reduce your efforts to deal with the stressor. You may even give up on reaching your goals. You think that no matter how you cope, it won't help, so you stop trying and give up.

3. Self-distraction occurs when you use something to take your mind off the problem. You may 'escape' through TV or too much sleep. Eating and drinking are also common ways to 'escape' as well.

4. Self-blame is when you blame yourself for what happened. And of course, blaming yourself doesn't help. You just end up feeling worse without moving forward.

5. Venting is when you focus on the stressor and complain about it.

Emotion-focused coping is often helpful in the short-term. It can help when we feel upset or when we feel we have no control over the stressor. But if this type of coping is used in the long-term, we won't be able to make positive change. These methods are linked to higher levels of stress and illness.

At first, when faced with stressors, all of us tend to use emotion-focused coping. It works best if it's used with the intention to shift to problem-focused coping techniques.

Make sure your workforce understand when it is best to use emotion focused coping and not to reply on it long term. It will drain them of the energy they need to be problem focused.

Share this with your line managers so that they can reduce stress related absence.

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