Problem Focused Coping (A Complete Guide)

Problem focused coping is a stress management approach in which an individual honestly faces a stressor in an effort to reduce or get rid of it.

This might engage generating probable solutions to a problem, confronting others who are accountable for or else linked with the stressor, and other forms of involved action.

For instance, a student who is anxious about an upcoming examination might deal with by studying more, taking every class, and attending revision sessions to make sure he or she completely knows the course subject matter.

It has been considered that problem focused coping is used first and foremost when a person assesses a stressor the same as within his or her capability to adjust.

In this article we will discuss problem focused coping. 

Problem focused coping aims for the reasons of stress in realistic ways which engage in the difficulty or stressful circumstances that are causing stress or anxiety, so openly dropping the stress or anxiety. 

Problem focused strategies mean to get rid of or decrease the origin of the stressor, plus: Problem solving.

Problem Focused Coping vs. Emotion Focused Coping:

When you are feeling anxious, then you should ask yourself, “Do I have to change my circumstances or do I have to discover a method to better handle the condition?”

Then, you can make a decision on which kind of coping strategy will assist you best.

There are two main types of coping skills: 

  • Problem focused coping 
  • Emotion focused coping.

Problem focused coping is supportive when you require changing your circumstances, maybe by reducing a worrying object from your life.

For instance, if you are in a damaging relationship, your sadness and anxiety may be best determined by finishing the relationship (as disparate to relaxing your emotions).

Emotion focused coping is cooperative when you want to be concerned of your feelings when you also do not need to alter your condition or when state of affairs are not in your control.

For instance, if you are sad over the loss of your loved one, it would be essential to take care of your feelings in a healthy manner (as you cannot change the incident).

There is not always one top way to progress.

As a substitute, it is up to you to make a decision which kind of coping skill is possible to work most excellent for you in your exacting condition.

The following example of stressful situations is considered below and how each type might be used under this circumstance.


You have been asked to deliver a presentation in front of a huge group. You were so thrilled and stunned by the invite that you decided to do it.

However, as the occasion draws near, your anxiety and nervousness escalates as you hate public speaking.

Problem focused coping: You make a decision to employ a public speaking trainer to assist you discover how to write down a high-quality speech and how to convey it boldly.

You put into practice giving your words in front of a small number of friends and family members so you would experience much geared up to step on stage.

Emotion focused coping: You let yourself know that you can achieve this. You follow relaxation exercises at any time you start to fear.

And you repeat yourself that still if you are anxious, no one as well is even expected to observe.

Identifying the Prblem

Problem focused coping centers are just about the cause of your stress, so the first step is to recognize the problem.

Even though this might look simple, how many times have you come home from the workplace and felt stressed out?

Can you identify exactly what the problem was? It could have been the never ending meetings, unreliable clients, or your time consuming distance.

Figuring out what problem you would like to deal with is not always simple.

Once you identify what problem you need to deal with, there are quite a lot of ways to make use of problem focused coping.

The primary thing you require to do is get some time to actually think whether or not the problem is unreliable or changeable. 

In most cases, it will be. Continuing on with the workplace instance, you have only some options. 

For starters, you may think about talking to your superiors, and communicate honestly about the problems you are facing. 

Try to stay as objective as feasible, but make it obvious that you are in an impractical situation. 

First this point, you might be capable of proposing the much wanted changes around the workplace. 

Maybe hiring extra assistance, or doing unnecessarily difficult filing systems, etc.

What just happened in that circumstance is that the power effort has shifted in your favor. 

Frequently, anxiety comes about as we feel helpless to transform our environment and our surroundings.  Problem focused coping drags the rug out from under that type of thoughts, and requests you to look at it from a different point of view.

It helps inspire you to do something about your circumstances, somewhat than merely stay resigned to it.

Healthy Problem Focused Coping Skills: 

There are many methods you might choose to deal with a problem face-to-face and get rid of the cause of your anxiety.

On some occasions, that might indicate altering your actions or making an arrangement that helps you recognize what actions you are going to take.

In other circumstances, problem focused coping might engage more radical procedures, like shifting jobs or eliminating someone out of your life.

At this point, there are some examples of healthy problem focused coping skills:

  • Doing effort in organizing your time well (just like, turn off the notifications on your cell phone)
  • Set up stimulating boundaries (say to your friends that you are not going to spend time with them if they make fun of you)
  • Problem Solving
  • Ask for support from an expert or a friend
  • Time Management
  • Employ in problem solving
  • Walk away (go away from the situation which is a source of your stress)
  • Create a to do list
  • Acquire influential social support

Healthy Emotion Focused Coping Skills:

When you are feeling lonely, anxious, depressing, or angry, emotion focused coping skills might help you deal with your behaviors and feelings in a healthy way.

Healthy coping strategies can calm you, for the time being divert you, or assist you bear your sorrow.

Sometimes it is useful to encounter your emotions face-to-face.

For instance, you feel sad after the loss of a loved one might help out to credit your loss.

Here are a few ways of healthy emotion focused coping skills:

  • Work out
  • Writing a journal
  • Draw something
  • Listening music
  • Taking a bath
  • Have fun with a pet
  • Spending time in natural world
  • Clean the house 
  • Reading a book
  • Meditation
  • Use of aromatherapy
  • Play a sport with your kids
  •  Cook a meal
  •  Engage in a hobby
  • Praying
  • Perform breathing exercises

Unhealthy Coping Skills: 

It does not mean it is healthy just because a tactic helps you tolerate your emotional pain. 

A few coping skills could generate bigger troubles in your life. Some examples of unhealthy coping skills are:

Drinking alcohol:

Drugs and alcohol might momentarily insensitive your pain, but they won’t determine your issues.

These are possibly to initiate new troubles into your life. Alcohol, for instance, is a depressant that can make you suffer badly.

Using substances also puts you at danger for raising a substance abuse crisis and it might make permissible issues, financial issues, and a multiplicity of public issues.


Food is an ordinary coping strategy. But, demanding to “stuff your feelings” with food can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and weight issues.

Occasionally people go off to the extreme and confine their intake and obviously, that can be just as harmful.

Sleeping too much: 

Sleeping offers a momentary escape from your troubles whether you take a nap when you are stressed out or you get a sleep not on time to stay you away from facing the day.

But, when you get up, the problem would still be there.

Communicating to others: 

Discussing your problems so that you can get support, build up a solution, or perceive a problem in a diverse way can be healthy. 

But researchers explain constantly discussing to people about how bad your circumstances are or how horrible you sense is more expected to stay if you are fixed in a rest of pain.


As many people say that they enjoy retail therapy as a technique to feel good, shopping can turn out to be damaging.

Owning a lot of belongings can add stress and anxiety to your life. Moreover, spending more than you can afford will only go wrong in the end and develop more anxiety and stress.


Even “healthy” coping strategies can become unhealthy if you’re using them to avoid the problem. 

For example, if you are stressed about your financial situation, you might be tempted to spend time with friends or watch TV because that’s less anxiety-provoking than creating a budget.

But if you never resolve your financial issues, your coping strategies are only masking the problem.

What Works For You Best:

The coping strategies that work for someone might not work for you. For example: going for a walk may help out your partner to calm down.

However, you may find going for a walk when you are angry makes you believe more about why you are crazy and it boosts your angry thoughts.

So then you make a decision to watch a humorous video for some minutes and it helps you to calm down.

It is significant to build up your individual toolkit of coping skills that you will discover helpful.

You might have to research with a selection of coping strategies to help you realize which one works best for you. You may identify that some coping strategies work best for particular issues or feelings.

For instance, to engage in a pastime might be an efficient way to relax after an extensive day at work. But on the other hand, to go for a walk in nature may be the best way when you are feeling miserable.

There is always a room for development when it comes to coping skills.

So, review what other gears and tools you can utilize and believe how you might carry on enhancing your skills in future.

FAQs about problem focused coping

What are the major differences between problems focused coping and emotion focused coping?

When the stress is perceived as controllable, problem-focused coping strategies are associated with fewer psychological symptoms, whereas in uncontrollable stressful situations, emotion-focused coping is related to fewer symptoms.

What is stress coping?

Coping With Life’s Stressors. 

Coping usually involves adjusting to or tolerating negative events or realities while attempting to maintain your positive self-image and emotional equilibrium. 

Coping occurs in the context of life changes that are perceived to be stressful.

What are examples of coping skills?

Now that we’ve examined common styles of coping, let us take a look at specific coping strategies:
Humor. …
Seeking support. …
Problem-solving. …
Relaxation. …
Physical recreation. …
Adjusting expectations. …
Denial. …

What does coping skills mean?

Coping means to invest one’s own conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal problems, in order to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict.

The psychological coping mechanisms are commonly termed coping strategies for coping skills.

What are some coping skills for anger?

Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
Think before you speak. …
Once you’re calm, express your anger. …
Get some exercise. …
Take a timeout. …
Identify possible solutions. …
Stick with ‘I’ statements. …
Don’t hold a grudge. …
Use humor to release tension.
Practice relaxation skills
Know when to seek help


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