Coping Strategy, Hardiness & Stress Tolerance of Millennial Bank Executives in India.

AuthorBose, Indranil


Stress is inevitable in an individual's life. Stress is like salt in our life, without which life becomes boring and with too much of which life becomes miserable. Stress may be defined as a state of imbalance between situational demand and individual's ability to deal effectively with those demands. Though the word stress has, in general, a negative connotation, it is not always negative; it has a positive side as well. Positive stress (Eustress) influences positively and provides energy to deal effectively with stressors and consequently life becomes enjoyable and challenging. On the other hand, negative stress (Distress) impacts negatively and as a result of which the individual starts believing that his/her inner resources are ineffective to deal with the stressors. Experiencing prolonged distress may lead to physical and mental exhaustion and thereby frustration and depression in the long run. As stressors are unavoidable, individuals need to develop high level of stress tolerance especially when confronting the negative stressors in life.

People react to stressors differently and this variability to handle stress can be attributed to stress tolerance. Some people can effectively deal with large amount of stress while others struggle with much less amount of stress. Stress tolerance can be affected by a number of factors, such as personality, lifestyle habits and coping strategies etc.

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Workplaces are also not free from stressors. Employees need to be high on stress tolerance in order to deal with effectively at workplaces. To manage a taxing situation effectively, individuals need to use their inner resources (cognitive and behavioural) to the fullest. Coping strategies are constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of a person (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2004; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Coping strategies are dynamic in nature as external environment is constantly changing and different coping strategies are applicable in different situations. Coping strategies help individuals to identify the resources (internal or external or both) to deal with stressors. We discuss two major types of coping strategies, namely problem-focused and emotion focused. Problem focused coping strategies act as a drive to manipulate the stressors and consequently are more adaptive in nature. Emotion focused coping strategies are the mechanisms which reduce the intensity of negative emotion associated with stressors. Problem solving and emotion focused strategies often serve as functional or dysfunctional based on the individual's appraisal of stressors. If individual perceives that he/ she can alter the impact of stressors with the help of resources then he/she tends to adopt functional strategy while in case of dysfunctional coping strategies, individuals tend to either prefer behavioral and mental disengagement (reducing efforts to deal with the stressor or distracting oneself from thinking about stressors) and denial strategy (as if there is not stressors) or depending upon alcohol / drugs. Dysfunctional coping is maladaptive in nature because it does not encourage to plan actively and seeking social support to face the stressors in a constructive manner and consequently makes a person much lower on stress tolerance whereas if individuals try to restructure inner resources in order to combat against stress, then they automatically become able to handle stressful situation more effectively.

There are certain personality types such as hardiness which have a direct impact on stress tolerance. Kobasa (1979 a) defined hardiness as a constellation of personality characteristics that function as a resistance resource in the encounter with stressful life events. Hardy individuals are highly committed, active and prefer to take challenge and evaluate the demanding situations as under control and as a result are more stress tolerant. In a study among male and female undergraduates, Banks and Gannon (1988), discovered high-hardy individuals reported fewer life hassles than did those lower in hardiness. Boyle, et al., (1991) found a negative correlation between hardiness and emotion-focused coping but no relationship between hardiness and problem-focused coping. According t0 Rhodewalt and Zone (1989) hardy teachers tend to appraise life events as less threatening compared to those who are low on hardiness. High-hardy individuals use more approach- or problem-focused types of coping strategies and low-hardy individuals use more avoidance- or emotion-focused coping strategies (Florian et al., 1995; Williams et al., 1992).

Various studies related to stress focused on different types and factors of stress among employees of different...

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