When individuals experience stress, they try to adopt ways of dealing or coping, with it, as they cannot remain in a continual state of tension. The word coping has been used mainly with two meaning—ways of dealing with stress, and the efforts to master harmful conditions, threat or challenge. We will use the term coping in the first sense (ways of dealing with stress), and distinguish between effective and ineffective coping.
Generally, effective coping strategies are approach strategies, which confront the problem of stress as a challenge, and increase the capability of dealing with it. Ineffective strategies are escape or avoidance strategies, which reduce the feeling of stress by, for example, denying the reality of stress, or through the use of alcohol drug or other aids to escapism.
Research has shown that social and emotional support helps a person to effectively cope with stress. Persons maintaining close interpersonal relationships with friends and family are able to use more approach strategies. Social support includes material support (providing resources) and emotional support (listening to the person and encouraging him). However, studies have also shown that unsolicited support may have negative consequences. Approach or effective strategies of coping includes effort to increase physical and mental readiness to cope (through physical exercises, yoga and meditation, diet management), creative diversions for emotional enrichment (music, art, theatre, etc), and strategies of dealing with the basic problems causing stress, and collaborative work to solve such problems. It is useful for individuals and organizations to examine the strategy that they are using to cope with stress. The absence of a coping strategy may lead to ineffectiveness.
Coping is also related to the quality and emotional reactions.