Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Cross-Cultural Study of Coping Strategies of Doctors Involved in Leisure Activities

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Cross-Cultural Study of Coping Strategies of Doctors Involved in Leisure Activities

Article excerpt

Leisure is perceived differently by different individuals. Brightbill (1960) used measures of free time: that is free from work, and time that is freely chosen. Another notion is that leisure is an experience that can occur anywhere, at anytime. De Grazia (1962) and Pieper (1963) embraced this notion, by calling leisure a "state of mind" which involves feelings of positive affect (enjoyment), and relative or perceived freedom.

Leisure activities

Leisure activities ensure enjoyment and entail freedom of choice. They can be stimulating, restful, expressive, active or passive, introvert or extrovert (Ebersole, & Hess, 1995). Leisure activities include infinite number of activities such as shopping, travel, gardening, arts and crafts, media entertainment, religious practices, housekeeping chores, etc. Various variables influence leisure activities - age, sex, time, work roles, health, location, etc.

Leisure and coping strategies

People continue to struggle with managing daily hassles, role strains, chronic life problems, life transitions and life crises that can be sources of stress (Avison, & Gotlib, 1994). Professionals such as doctors lead hectic lifestyles, have demanding work schedules, long work hours, shift duties, time constraints, limited social life which make them an easy targets for stress and lifestyle related illnesses. Research has shown that psychosocial factors and lifestyle factors determine the response to stress and resulting illness, longetivity and health. People's lifestyles, including their leisure lifestyles influence their health and wellbeing (Iso-Ahola, 1994; Sobel, 1995). Among various types of coping resources and strategies, leisure researchers have proposed that leisure can be an important means of helping people cope with stress and maintain or improve their health (IsoAhola, 1997; Zuzanek, Robinson, & Iwasaki, 1998). Research has also shown that leisure activities promote psycho-physiological benefits including reduced tension and anxiety, mental and physical relaxation, reduction in stress hormones, positive changes in mood and increased wellbeing.

Lazarus and Folkman (1984) defined coping as "constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing." There are two general types of coping: problem focused coping and emotion focused coping. Problem focused coping are efforts aimed primarily at directly changing or managing a threatening or harmful stressor. There are two general types of problem focused coping: confronting coping (assertive or possibly risky efforts to change the situation) and planful problem solving (efforts to rationalize the situation, identify potential solutions, and them implement them). If one believes there is nothing that can be done to alter a situation, one then relies on emotion focused coping. Emotion focused efforts are aimed at relieving or regulation of the emotional impact of a stressful situation. There are several strategies which include escape avoidance (use of drugs/alcohol, escaping into fantasy, wishful thinking, hobbies, exercising, immersing in work), distancing (joking about a stressful situation, discussing in an intellectual and detached way) and denial (e.g. drug addicts might refuse to believe that they have a problem with substance abuse).

Leisure contributes to stress coping in many ways: leisure companionship, leisure palliative coping and leisure mood enhancement. Through leisure companionship, leisure provides discretionary and enjoyable shared experiences as a form of social support (Iso-Ahola, & Park, 1996). Leisure palliative coping is an escape oriented coping strategy. Leisure keeps people's minds and bodies busy, and they temporarily escape from stressful events through leisure (e.g. vacation/coffee break). The enhancement of positive mood or reduction of negative mood through leisure is another type of coping strategy. …

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