Stress + Coping + Adult Development

Stress, coping, and development are intertwined and as connected as twin babies being born. One comes before the other yet they are both spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically connected beyond comprehension. Strategy marks the point to create Smart (self) Love Moves for yourself during a time of stress. Across your lifespan you’ll experience stress or stressful situations that call for strategy.

Observing the different patterns of change as well as the conceptualization and the measurement of stress and coping are valuable in a therapy session. Taking time to evaluate this on your own also marks a benchmark to experiencing relief. At times this can be a bit complex to decipher - do your best and leave the rest up to a physician.

Vulnerability of stress can occur later in life. In addition, stress can contribute to late-life adaptability. It can also manifest due to the instigation of forming personal development in adulthood. As we mature and age, we realize that there are some areas that can use personal development. It is much like going backwards to learn what we probably should have learned as children and during school age times. This process is called post traumatic or stress-related growth (SRG).

Development trends exist for the positive and negative effects of stress and coping processes. I’ve studied these trends and can conclude that negative and positive responses are connected to strategies each individual uses.

When stress occurs become an observer, be vulnerable and develop a plan.

stress and coping


There is a strategy for this one stressor…

There are 4 types of stressors most commonly assessed:

  • Trauma

  • Life events

  • Daily stressors

  • Chronic stress

Trauma + Aging

Trauma refers to a mental disorder, dis ease and discomfort in thought and in the mind. All causing a disassociation of some sort. The frequency of the impact vary by age (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Trauma events that involve serious threat to life or physical integrity to yourself or friend family brings about stress. Types of trauma can come from being a victim to a person’s behavior and or being a victim of a crime. Trauma also includes exposure to a natural or man-made disaster.

PTSD is experienced after the trauma has been concluded during each and every exposure. An example would be, Holocaust survivors may show a better adaptation than those in heavy combat. The difference may also be in part to selective survivorship. However, Aldwin, Levenson, and Spiro (1994) found that perceiving positive aspects of military services may decrease the long-term effects of PTSD. The syndrome characteristics are the following:

  • Startle reactions

  • Irritability and numbness

  • Sleep disorders

  • Depression

  • Flashbacks

  • Intrusive memories

  • Anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure


One step in the right direction is what’s needed.

Life Events

Stressful life event (SLE) scales are assessed. The variants of each event requires adaptational change and mental, emotional and psychical perceptions. As most researchers know, negative events are more associated with health symptoms. A life event may include the change in social roles. Often times our role changes in a social setting, such as at work, with friends, colleagues, partnerships, relationships, etc.

Some might think that older adults have more life stressors due to illness, bereavement, and other losses. It is quite a paradox. An early review by Rabkin and Struening (1976) that older adults show fewer life stresses than young adults.

The following life stresses occur in younger adults:

  • Marriages

  • Divorce

  • Births

  • Graduations

  • Education

  • Job loss

  • Family care giving (in middle aged adults)

Middle aged and older adults show no difference in stress exposures.

Slow + Steady

wins the race…

Daily Stressors

Here are some daily stressors:

  • Getting stuck in a traffic jam

  • Having an argument with a partner

  • Having an argument with a family, friend, colleague or stranger

  • Children who are temporarily ill and need to stay home from school

  • Aging pets (family members)

  • Other silliness we can do without. The annoying types even….

We call these hassles. Older men reported fewer hassles than middle-aged men. Older men reported health related hassles. Middle-aged men reported problems with work and or children. Back to older adults as a whole… Older adults were reported to be less reactive to these types of events. There is an increase in losses and health outcomes and a surprising decrease in hassles. but, this decrease may reflect the change in roles.

Even in writing this I begin thinking about two of my clients that are more attracted to middle-aged men. My clients are in their 60’s. I think of them because I now wonder if a middle-aged man would suit them. With small children and busy work schedules, middle-aged men, depending on how old their children are and what flexibility they have may or may not work for my clients. The two clients I am thinking of create their own work schedule, so they are very flexible and have children who are very much independent. I just needed to pin that thought somewhere and well, I’ve decided to mentally pin this thought here.


Is done gracefully and delivers with it peace and gratitude.

Chronic Stress + Aging

In a stress health relationship, chronic role strain is an important disruption in relationships such as marriage, work, and parenting. Within all stress categories, chronic is of the up most researched among older adults. Some argue that chronic stress may accelerate the aging process by as much as 10 years through the effects of chromosomes and on the immune system, as well as inflammatory process.

There is no evidence that chronic stress is more common is either younger or older adults.

Common stresses are:

  • Poverty

  • Job stress

  • incarceration Caregiving for a disabled child

It is important to limit or end (if possible). Working with a professional can help you use coping styles and skills to accommodate with the stress you’re experiencing.

Coping Styles and Approaches

Psychological coping efforts are used to modify thoughts and feelings. Behavioral coping efforts are the movements and actions that affects stressors.

Here are 3 main approaches that are used:

  • Psychoanalytic approaches

  • Coping styles (emotion + problem focused)

  • Process approaches

These approaches are used and taught in a therapy session. Each can be used to assist in the process of moving forward.

With Love,


Resource: The Handbook of Stress Science by R. J. contra and A. Baum