I like the idea of this concept very much, and was introduced to it recently when I was watching, Live to 100 — Secrets of the Blue Zones on NETFLIX.
In Sardinia where males are just as likely to live to 100 years of age as females are (!), the men don’t suffer from chronic stress. That’s not to say they don’t suffer from any stress at all…they simply encounter the type that can be reasonably overcome.
Note: I actually came across the Blue Zones many years ago when I attended a Healthy Aging seminar hosted by Metagenics. I have been meaning to write an article about it ever since 🤦♀️
Active Coping strategies involve acknowledging stressors, and then attempting to reduce the negative outcome. There are various Active Coping strategies that can be used (change the nature of the stressful situation, reframe the meanings of problems, seek professional help). However, all of these strategies turn stress into something that is actually beneficial for our mental health because they enable us to feel capable of resolving the problems that we face.
Unfortunately, with the work I do at OOMPH, I see many of my clients utilising Avoidant Coping strategies instead. This is where they choose to ignore or deny the problem e.g at work, or in their relationships. So instead of doing something about the stressor, they either opt to distract themselves from it with food, drink, NETFLIX, podcasts, social media, and sleeping. Effectively ‘bottling it up’ inside and/or simply choosing to complain about it. And not even to the people who are directly involved in the ‘stressing’ — who could actually do something to ease their burden.
Therefore not only does nothing get done to improve the stressful situation, but the problem gets worse! Because they start to develop negative health outcomes as a result e.g skin issues, weight issues, blood pressure issues, mood issues etc.
Active Coping is not only good for your mental health (it helps with cognitive longevity and increases your resilience to stress), but it’s also good for your physical health by association.
Clearly it’s easier said than done, and I believe it is related to another concept that I very much like: Eustress 🤗
Eustress means positive stress — and I believe it’s intrinsically linked to what coping method (Active or Avoidant) you choose to employ in any given situation.
Positive stress is perceived as being within our coping abilities, because it involves:
And while I realise everyone has a different threshold to stress, generally speaking, if you’re experiencing ‘negative stress’ (and you’ll know this because you’ll be employing avoidant coping strategies), I believe there is another option for you, if you’re willing to consider it.
To me, if you’re going to employ this type of strategy, then why not go big — and avoid the stressor completely ! What am I saying? I’m saying maybe it’s time for a change of pace…
(Might I suggest you move to Sardinia and take up professional goat shepherding, and amateur sunbathing? There, they have ‘nice’ stress, and you can live until you’re a ‘hundy’! 😉)
What to read more? For articles from me on stress management –
(Hmm, are you starting to see a pattern with my metaphors in regards chronic stress…?! )
Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.
Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.Book online