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Problem-Focused Coping for Anxiety


Updated October 07, 2008

Problem-focused coping is a style of coping with anxiety that attempts to directly deal with the stressor that is causing anxiety as a way to bring relief, such as learning financial skills to deal with money problems that are causing anxiety. If you're wondering why these things cause the sensation of anxiety, it may be helpful to read about the origins of anxiety.

Example of Problem-Focused Coping

The classic example of using problem-focused coping for anxiety is a scenario about something we all do: Pay bills. Suppose you realized that the money you make at work may no longer be able to cover your current living expenses. For most people, this would rightfully lead to some anxiety.

But for people with generalized anxiety disorder, this could cause a significant amount of worry and even debilitating anxiety about the potential outcomes. Instead of worrying and ruminating about the situation, try to take a problem-focused approach.

5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety

This style could look different for each person but all would result in action. Some potential problem-focused solutions would be to take action to find more income, reduce expenses, talk with the companies that you owe money to, and make a plan of how to deal with the economic reality. All of these are using the natural anxiety as a fuel to take action, which will likely lead to reduced anxiety.

Source: Mastering the World of Psychology by Wood, Wood, & Boyd (2006). Boston: Pearson.

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