The role of emotional burnout and coping strategies in tolerance to stress is analyzed based on the empirical study that included officers participated in the hostilities in the East of Ukraine and conscript soldiers without such experience. The used methods were: Psychological stress measure (PSM-25) (Lemyre-Tiesser-Fillion), Boston stress tolerance test, V. Rozov’s test of adaptive stress abilities, V.Boyko’s method of emotional burnout, Ways of Coping Questionnaire (developed by R.Lazarus and S. Folkman and adapted by T. Kryukova et al.). The study involved 80 military personnel, of whom 40 officers participated in the combats in the East of Ukraine and 40 were conscript soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Officers with combat experience had higher tolerance to stress than soldiers: they were more self-confident, more optimistic, they felt more social support, showed better organization of their life time and somatic regulation, their thinking was more adaptive. Soldiers and officers had common but also different emotional-volitional resources to improve their tolerance to stress. The common emotional resources included reducing anxiety and depression if they occurred, empathy, expanded spectrum of positive emotions, reducing negative emotions outside the professional sphere, and reducing symptoms of psycho-vegetative and psychosomatic disorders if they existed. Adaptive stress abilities of officers with combat experience can increase it they decrease in their dissatisfaction with themselves and overcome a sense of hopelessness in a traumatic situation; such abilities of soldiers can become better if they overcome emotional detachment.
A powerful volitional resource increasing tolerance to stress of military personnel, regardless of their experience in hostilities, is coping strategies used by them, when they do not lose contact with the outside world and really want to solve problems. If the officers try to escape traumatic situations, their emotional resources for stress resistance are significantly depleted due to intensive emotional burnout. If the soldiers try to use this strategy, while distancing from the stressful situation, they begin to perceive this situation as hopeless and, as a result, fulfil insufficiently those service duties that require emotional expenditures.
It is easier for service members to restore their physical condition and overcome negative emotions when they are not distancing from a problem, but understand that it must be resolved timely. The officers’ tolerance to stress, unlike the soldiers’ tolerance, increases if they combine such active coping strategies as planfull problem-solving and seeking social support. The repertoire of soldiers’ coping strategies in stress overcoming is much narrower; it, unlike officers’ repertoire, is associated with the renunciation of confrontation and the removal of responsibility for problem solving.
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