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Psychology: Anxiety Coping Strategies

Burger (2015) singles out three types of strategies that can be useful in coping with anxiety such as problem-focused, emotion-focused, and avoidance strategies.

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Problem-focused strategies are aimed at managing the problem and thus overcoming anxiety. These strategies usually include careful study of the problem, making a plan of action, considering alternatives, making more efforts, looking for real help from more experienced people, and other rational steps (Burger, 2015). For example, if a person is anxious about the future exam, a problem-focused strategy will include making a plan for preparation, studying hard to cover the important questions, and consulting groupmates or a lecturer in case some issues are unclear.

Emotion-focused strategies “are designed to reduce the emotional distress that accompanies the problem” (Burger, 2015, p. 130). They comprise talking about the problem with friends, finding benefits of this experience, trying to accept the situation and move on, finding comfort in religion, etc. For example, emotion-focused strategies can be applied in case a pregnant woman is anxious about the changes in life. She can talk to her mother or a friend who already has children to reveal her fears and find some positive moments.

Finally, avoidance strategies can be used. They include not thinking about the problem, pretending it does not exist, avoiding any reminders of it, etc. For example, a student who failed an exam may pretend there is no problem instead of finding ways to solve it and will be finally expelled from the university.

Problem-focused strategies are likely to be the most effective because they include problem management while avoidance will not lead to a positive outcome. Emotion-focused strategies can also work in many situations that do not demand problem solution. I am most likely to use problem-focused strategies because I believe that every problem has a solution that can be found after analysis of a situation.


Burger, J.M. (2015). Personality (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

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