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think back to the first time you rode your bike without your parent’s steady hand to guide you along the path. Even if you never learned to ride a bike, you likely can imagine how it might feel to look behind you and discover the absence of that steady hand to keep you upright. At first you might wobble due to a sudden surge of uncertainty and fear in your chest. But as your confidence builds, your ride smoothes out, and a smile invades your face as you realize that you are riding your bike all by yourself.
Now imagine if you focused on that initial fear of riding the bike without help and as a result you fell and scraped your leg. Focusing on the fear rather than focusing on the fact that you were in the midst of successfully riding your bike might have caused you to fall. Being paralyzed by or focusing exclusively on the fear are examples of an ineffective response to stress that results in no reduction of the anxiety and no resolution to the situation.
With a scraped leg, your parent is now at your side comforting you and reminding you that your leg will heal and next time the outcome will be better. Social support like this is known to be an effective buffer against the impact of stress and enhances recovery from disease.
Humans develop and learn within a social context. Culture and social interactions are part of the environmental framework with which the organism continually interacts. Therefore, you might reactively know how to escape a dangerous encounter; however, coping with less harmful situations often is learned and influenced by those in your environment. There is strong evidence that context affects coping strategies. Consider how social context is fundamental to understanding stress and coping.
For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources including the “Coping in a Social Context” handout. Consider how social context affects the development and effectiveness of coping mechanisms to manage stress. Think about whether social context has an impact on coping mechanisms for the population
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