Coping mechanisms used in stressful situations

Giauna Collins, a sophomore English major from Las Vegas, focuses on her homework as she listens to tunes. Coping mechanisms are used when life gets stressful. Photo by Madison Boyd

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Everyone experiences stressful times in their lives, whether it’s from school, work or personal responsibilities. What matters is how we manage it.

Stress in college is a common struggle for students at universities everywhere; however, it’s important for students to deal with stress in healthy ways. Copious amounts of stress can lead to harmful or helpful coping mechanisms.

“People may use coping mechanisms for stress management or to cope with anger, loneliness, anxiety or depression.”


Coping mechanisms are used when stressful life events occur, good or bad, and in college, this can become more prominent in students. Stress can affect mind and body in various ways which can eventually affect your schoolwork, career and future.

According to GoodTherapy.org, “People may use coping mechanisms for stress management or to cope with anger, loneliness, anxiety or depression.”

There are two different types of coping mechanisms for people, adaptive and maladaptive, and it’s important to understand the difference. Adaptive coping mechanisms are healthy and normal ways that people deal with stressful situations.

“Coping refers to the human behavioral process for dealing with demands, both internal or external, in situations that are perceived as threats,” according to Positivepsychology.com.

A few prime examples of this kind of coping mechanism can include support, relaxation, problem-solving, physical activity and humor.

Maladaptive coping mechanisms are harmful to the body and mind and can cause extreme physical and mental issues if not treated. These coping mechanisms can include escape, unhealthy self-soothing, numbing with drug and alcohol abuse, compulsions and risk-taking, and self-harm.

Students may turn to maladaptive coping mechanisms because “the overpowering stress can make people feel hopeless and try to find other solutions to make themselves feel better,” said Jessi Anderson, a freshman nursing major from Kanab.

Dixie State University has many resources such as the tutoring center, study rooms and various events during finals week to help students relieve stress. Students can also create healthy coping mechanisms by finding new interests in activities like such as sports, reading, self-care and even making new friends.

If you or someone you know are struggling with maladaptive coping mechanisms, contact the Health and Counseling Center at (435) 652-7755 available Monday-Friday 9 a.m-5 p.m and closed Saturday and Sunday.

You may also visit https://wellness.dixie.edu/mental-health-services/ for additional mental health professional contacts.

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