Weve talked about many mental/emotional health issues, unhealthy coping methods to stress, and what is not beneficial… but what are healthy coping methods to stress? For a problem, we also need a possible solution. Lets talk some coping methods!
Coping mechanisms are the combination of thoughts we have, emotions used to adjust to triggers or changes in your life, and behaviors/actions we take to deal with a threatening situation/stress/trauma/ painful or difficult emotions. Etc. These strategies can help people adjust to stressful events while helping them maintain their emotional well-being.
Coping occurs in response to physical or psychological stress, often triggered by changes that can be negative or positive. The goal is to maintain mental health and emotional well-being. Stressors are normally described as negative events such as the death of a loved one, miscarriage, a sexual, physical, or emotional trauma, abuse, loss of a job, or a divorce, and these events can cause most people to feel grief or distress.. Positive events like a new job, marriage, birth, or moving can also contribute to your stress levels and require coping skills as well.
Every single day, we are faced with challenges and emotions. We have been conditioned to train our body and mind to rely on addiction as a coping mechanism. When life gets tough, were almost encouraged to have a drink, or offered drugs as a way to avoid feeling, or dealing with the situation. Consuming alcohol/drugs/self harm + other unhealthy coping methods can often help people feel less stressed temporarily, until the effects wear off, but if a person comes to rely on unhealthy coping methods such as alcohol/cutting self/taking drugs in the face of challenging situations, they may eventually become dependent on the substance/coping method over time.
It will take work, but we can replace our unhealthy coping methods with healthier ones! & Not all coping skills are created equally! Make it your own!
People may use coping mechanisms for stress management or to cope with anger, loneliness, anxiety, or depression. Sometimes we need to cope with things that happen to us, and other times we must cope with things that happen within us. Some events may require us to deal with both internal and external demands.
Ie: Losing your job would be an external demand. Something difficult or stressful has happened to you, and you find ways to cope with the challenges losing your job brings. — Dealing with depression/anxiety is an internal demand. There may be no traumatic external event to deal with, but you have to address the internal challenges presented by depression/anxiety etc.
Before we continue, lets review what some unhealthy coping methods are, as these can be harmful to mental/physical health, and also slow the healing process.
Escape: some people may withdraw from friends and become socially isolated or may absorb themselves in a solitary activity such as watching tv, reading, or spending time online.
Compulsions and risk-taking: Stress can cause some people to seek an adrenaline rush through compulsive or risk-taking behaviors such as gambling, unsafe sex, experimenting with drugs, theft, or reckless driving.
Self-harm: People may engage in self-harming behaviors to cope with extreme stress or trauma.
Numbing: When a person uses numbing as a coping strategy, they are often aware of what they are doing, and seeking activities that will help them drown out or override their distress. People may seek to numb their stress by overeating, eating junk food, excessive alcohol, drugs, video games, or internet usage.
Ignoring or bottling up strong feelings
Self-blame or blaming others
[[Swipe]] 👉👉 Certain stressors that affect you may not affect another and vice versa. Coping styles can be problem-focused, or emotion-focused. Problem-focused coping strategies are typically associated with methods of dealing with the problem in order to reduce stress, while emotion-focused mechanisms can help people handle any feelings of distress that result from the problem.
Coping mechanisms can be broadly categorized as active or avoidant. Active coping mechanisms usually involve an awareness of the stressor and conscious attempts to reduce stress. Avoidant coping mechanisms, typically involves ignoring or avoiding the problem.
If you know how you are most likely to react to stress or difficulties in your life, You can then decide which type of coping mechanism is best for you.
Ie: is your tendency to overthink the problem, overreact about the problem, or get over emotional about the problem?
This current post is for those who OVERTHINK — try using Appraisal-focused coping.
Adapt the way you think about the stress.
Challenge the way you think about the problem. Distance yourself from the problem or try to laugh at your pain to see it in a different way. This will help to change your mindset and revise your thoughts about the stressor.
Humor – Acknowledging the humorous aspects of a problem, can help you deal with small setbacks of failures. Making light of a stressful situation may help people maintain perspective and prevent the situation from becoming overwhelming or doing something that may be harmful in the future.
Seek support – Talking to a professional is a great way to reduce stress. If you overthink, and get bogged down in your own thoughts, having someone there to kindly steer you back onto the right path can so valuable. Seeking external support instead of self-isolating and internalizing the effects of stress can greatly reduce the negative effects of a difficult situation.
Team sports – Being part of a team builds up your confidence and makes you think about others and other problems apart from yourself.
[[Swipe]] 👉👉 Emotion-focused coping – in which a person gathers tools to nurture their emotional health during a stressful time period of which the stress being dealt with cant be changed. Ie: death of a loved one may require emotion focused coping.
Here a person will try and change the way they feel about the stress or how they react emotionally to the stress. This could involve realizing bottled up emotions that have been buried or managing hostile feelings. A person may have to accept blame or responsibility.
Some emotion-focused coping mechanisms:
Writing in a journal – Some people find that writing down their thoughts allows them to get some form of relief as they can then focus on the rest of the day. All of that anger and frustration can be written out, and once it is all down on paper, you feel like a weight has been lifted. Life is unpredictable, and you might be hit with a trigger at any moment. You can try writing how you will overcome a stressor when it happens.
Listening to music – Music is a very powerful medium and can rouse or calm in equal measures. I don’t care what type of music you listen to; music is a powerful coping mechanism. Turn the radio up and let the words of a song speak for you.
Talking to friends –Hanging out with people is a fun way to enjoy the night and allow stressors to pass. Have a couple of close friends that know and understand your situation. Call them when you are overwhelmed and feeling weak. Sometimes talking it out is all you need.
Spirituality – There is evidence that becoming spiritual/believing in a higher power can help with the stress of a trauma as it gives a wider perspective on what has happened. It also allows people to believe there is some meaning to life.
Research has shown that although emotion-focused coping mechanisms are best when it comes to dealing with a traumatic event, it’s problem-focused that get the best results.
Read posotive quotes: When you reach your lowest moments, positive thoughts can go a long way. Reading a list of inspirational quotes can be the hand to lift you up and out of your despair.
Meditation: [good for overthinkers]: If your mind tends to wander or gets filled with panicky and busy thoughts of stress, meditation can slow the mind down and allow you to focus on what is around you, not what might happen in the future. Take a few moments every day to relax and meditate. It will prepare you for surprise stress. This can include deep breathing techniques, [try practicing taking deep breaths to calm yourself down and relax your body. Taking deep breaths, begin counting to ten very slowly. It will give you time to act and not react.] Using relaxation skills, and progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce stress and rid the mind of worry, as well as, but not limited to, sitting in nature, or listening to soft music. Etc
Alone time – Allow yourself time alone to process the stress of life and hide away from it.
Sleeping [not to be confused w oversleeping] – When the human body is stressed it needs to rest and reset. Sleep can give you the rest you need to perform another day.
Clean: Cleaning distracts the mind while completing tasks
Eating healthy – Eating foods that are good for you improve your physical health and mental health. When your body receives the proper nutrients, it can function more efficiently. Emotional eating vs. Hunger. When you ar hungry, the body wants nutrients, rather than calories.
Coping vs Defense mechanisms
Some may confuse defense mechanisms with coping mechanisms bc of their similarities…but they are different.
Defense mechanisms mostly occur at an unconscious level, and people are generally unaware they are using them. The use of coping mechanisms, is typically conscious and purposeful. — Defense mechanisms can change a person’s internal psychological state
Sources for all coping mechanisms posts: