Life can be difficult for everyone. There are many stressors and struggles that we deal with every day. When facing these struggles, it can be tempting to take any fix that offers instant comfort and relief. Unhealthy coping mechanisms would often be the easier option. They might be quicker or more effortless, and may offer a brief escape.
However, it is crucial to understand the impact that they can have on your well-being. Using methods such as substance use, self-harm, or avoiding the problem can be extremely damaging. These coping mechanisms can lead to health issues, social isolation, or the damage of your self-esteem. Using them too much can also give you an immunity to them. They could escalate, needing you to use them more to reach the same level of relief as before. This only intensifies the cycle.
In the long run, these unhealthy coping mechanisms block the development of healthier alternatives. They can worsen or contribute to the emergence of mental health disorders. They can also put a strain on relationships, cause financial or legal difficulties. Unhealthy coping strategies act as a barrier towards personal growth and resilience.
Instead, choose healthier ways to cope. This will protect your mental and physical well-being. You can either look towards emotional based or problem-solving based coping strategies.
Emotional based coping strategies focus on how you feel about the issue at hand. These may distract you or soothe you, or put you in a better mood. Some coping strategies include:
- Engaging in self-care
- Doing some exercise
- Distracting yourself with a hobby
- Focusing on something productive
- Being mindful
Problem-solving strategies will help with you to deal with the source of your stress. This could mean changing your behaviour, or creating a plan of action. It could also mean more radical decisions that would cause a major change in your life. Some examples include:
- Making to-do lists
- Finding solutions to some of your problems
- Leaving situations that stress you out
- Seeking professional help
When you’re feeling stressed, try to use healthier coping methods. It will be better for your body and mind.