In a career in psychology, you’ll likely encounter people who know how to cope with life and those who don’t.

Woman speaking to counselorLife isn’t always easy. We’ve all had moments when we’ve felt overwhelmed, and yet we don’t all have the same ability to handle stress, struggles, and responsibilities. Some of us are low copers and some of us are high copers.

What Is Coping?

Coping is the ability to handle what life throws at you. It can refer to simply being able to hold down a job and pay your bills on time, or it can refer to being able to remain calm and clear-headed while dealing with serious difficulties like a family illness or personal tragedy.

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What Is a Low Coper?

A low coper is anyone who consistently struggles even with routine responsibilities. Getting to work on time, keeping a house clean, living healthily, and appropriately caring for pets are just a few of the things that can be difficult for low copers. Low copers tend to see most of life’s responsibilities as “too hard” and are quick to shut down when faced with stress. However, it’s important not to confuse low copers with those suffering from physical or mental disabilities. Low copers don’t have a disability or disorder. They lack basic coping skills.

What Is a High Coper?

A high coper is anyone who can remain calm and keep moving forward even in the face of difficulty. High copers are able to handle the unexpected (like a sudden death in the family, the loss of a job, or the destruction of a home) as well as complicated long-term responsibilities (like managing a business, caring for an aging parent, or raising children). This doesn’t mean they don’t feel stress or sadness; it means they have the ability to not allow their stress, sadness, or other emotions to stop them from tackling the problems they face. In other words, they have advanced coping skills.

How Can You Improve Your Coping Skills?

While most of us are not low copers, many of us could use better coping skills. If you want to improve your ability to cope, you should work to improve your:

Confidence: Confidence is key to handling problems and responsibilities. You have to believe you can do something before you can do it.

Problem-solving skills: If you can learn to approach problems in ways that allow you to find the best solution, you can handle more of what life throws at you.

Perseverance: To get through life, you have to keep at it. And “keeping at it” is a skill. The first step is to recognize that failure is a door, not a wall. Failure helps us learn, and each failure helps us close in on the right solution or way to do things. If you keep at it, you can get through almost anything.

Inner peace: It’s OK to occasionally feel overwhelmed. But to keep that feeling from undoing you, you have to know how to manage stress. Whether it’s meditation, going to church, taking a walk, or anything else that increases your sense of inner peace, you need to make it a regular part of your life if you want to continue to cope.

Relationships: When dealing with anything difficult, it helps to have someone you can talk to. By maintaining strong relationships, you’ll have a network of people willing to give you a boost when you need it most.

How Can You Help Others Improve Their Coping Skills?

An inability to cope can lead to serious problems. Fortunately, there are ways you can help low copers improve their ability to handle life. And this can begin by earning a degree in psychology—for example, an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (if you want to work with patients) or a BS in Psychology or MS in Psychology (to put your professional skills to work in a different capacity).

Through a bachelor’s in psychology program, you can gain new perspectives on social awareness and responsibility, civic engagement, cross-cultural competence, and evidence-based decision-making that can help you start a career focused on helping people in need, including those who have trouble coping. You can do even more—and gain skills for even more careers in psychology—with a master’s in psychology.

If you’re wondering how to make earning a psychology degree a reality, consider the opportunities offered through online learning. Unlike most campus-based programs, online psychology degree programs are designed to fit the needs of working adults like you. For example, you can take online psychology courses from home instead of having to commute to a campus. Additionally, online education allows you to choose when in the day you attend class, making it possible to arrange your school schedule around your existing work schedule.

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology can help you gain the skills you need to help others gain the skills they need to better cope. And thanks to the advantages you’ll find in online bachelor’s in psychology and online master’s in psychology programs, earning a psychology degree is more doable than ever before.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering BS in Psychology, MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and MS in Psychology degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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