Healthy coping strategies are something that are often lacking in our lives. We all have many ways to deal with stress or handle a difficult situation, but we don’t always know the best way to cope.
Our lives are full of stress, disappointment, and plain old hard days. We all suffer at times, but sometimes it seems like some people are given an extra dose of a tough life. Maybe a child grows up with an abusive or neglectful parent. Maybe a family suffers from generational poverty. Maybe serious sickness plagues a family or someone loses loved ones to disease or accident. People in these serious situations will find a way to deal with their difficulties in life. In fact, all of us, even if we have comparatively easy lives, will be faced with stress at one time or another, and how we react to it is vital to our health.
Unhealthy Coping Strategies
There are many unhealthy ways to cope. A child that is continuously yelled at, or goes hungry, may learn to gain acceptance and care in a gang, or may disconnect from others. Someone who loses a loved one through death may learn to withdraw and not get close to others again. Drug and alcohol abuse are common coping mechanisms. They have a way of numbing pain and helping someone forget their problems. We all, to some extent, are guilty of using unhealthy coping mechanisms – eating too much, running away from problems, shutting people out, shopping to excess, self mutilation, perfectionism, and trivializing things of importance.
These unhealthy coping mechanisms get more dangerous when they are used more and more often by the person, and especially if a person begins to depend on them. Addiction to substances or other things like eating or shopping, and also mental illness, can be the result of poor coping strategies.
Healthy Coping Skills
With some help and counseling, a person can reverse the effects of these poor skills. If an addiction has resulted, more intense therapy may be necessary. The best thing to do, however, is for all of us to be more aware of our own responses to stress and difficulty, and focus on healthy ways to make ourselves feel better. Mental relaxation techniques are extremely important to learn, as well as physical rejuvenation. Meditation is one way to relax both the mind and body, and it is an effective way for many to cope with stress. Healthy eating and exercise also work wonders for the mind and body, and faith strengthening activities often help put things into perspective.
There often comes a time in our lives when we really need the help of family and friends, and having their support is invaluable. We should all work to develop coping strategies ourselves and encourage this healthy behavior among our loved ones also.
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Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.