Problem Solving Techniques for Coping with Stress

Sometimes stress comes from the feeling that you have no control over your problems. When you always rely on others to solve your problems, you lack control. However, when you work on solving your problems yourself, it gives you a sense that you can overcome difficulties. It gives you a feeling of self-worth and boosts self-esteem.

When you are under stress, or if you think a situation may begin to cause you stress, take a step back to understand the real problem and the best way to approach it. Size up the problem and consider the options to resolve it. Take time to think things through. Today is not the only day of your life. Think about alternatives, explore options, and look in new directions. You are putting yourself under pressure when you try to make immediate or impulsive decisions. Also, if you make a decision too quickly, you may realize later that you actually had other options that you did not take the time to consider.

Use a step-by-step plan to solve problems and reduce stress. Here’s one approach.

• Identify the problem. What is the problem causing the stress? Focus on the true problem.
• Explore solutions to the problem. Look at a variety of options for solving the problem. Be realistic; keep in mind your goals and values. Prioritize your solutions based on how realistic and effective you think they may be.
• Try one of the options and see if it helps solve your problem. First, try the solution you think is best. If it doesn’t work, try another.

You need a variety of coping options. Different situations call for different approaches, and you need to be able to choose your strategy. When trying to cope with a stressful situation, you may be able to change the stressor by modifying or eliminating it. On the other hand, you may have to change your own routine or lifestyle to avoid the situation. You may have to change your thinking: The situation might seem less stressful if you look at it with a more positive attitude.