Who else can sympathize when I say sometimes the world is just a little too much? We all have different mechanisms to cope with stress and trauma and we all have different stresses and strains in our lives. Who can say they have healthy coping mechanisms that work? Finding what works for you is essential for your mental health and wellbeing, especially in a world that sometimes gets a little too much.
What do I mean by healthy coping mechanisms? Healthy coping mechanisms are essentially like small habits that are kind to both your mind and body. Over-eating, self-harm or drug use, in particular, are some of the bad coping mechanisms people may adopt. These practices may very well provide a small temporary release, but this is short term gratification which when abused can cause long term (very) damaging effects on your life, enhancing your difficulty in coping even further with life’s ups and downs – ultimately exacerbating an already difficult part of your life. With withdrawals, addiction, obsession, so on and so forth, strong support networks, sources for help, and therapeutic coping options are essential when aiming for recovery.
Instead of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, let’s explore some alternatives that are both beneficial and healthy.
A traumatic event, the effects of depression, or a long term illness can leave us feeling a little numb and disconnected from our feelings. When my depression kicks in or something doesn’t go the way I was planning, it’s incredibly easy for me to sit and wallow in my feelings and fall deeper into the dark tunnel. However, I’ve found that watching your favorite comedies, chic flicks, or even sourcing new talented comedians on Youtube could be what you need to take yourself less seriously – one little laugh can distract ourselves even just for a moment from pain or stress. I LOVE Aziz Ansari and even more so love a good movie. Pride and Prejudice anyone? That Mr. Darcy gets me every single time. All in all, bouts of laughter could give you a little or a lot of strength to take on the day and cope a bit better than before. More importantly, matters no longer seem as bleak!
Step Back And Relax
Easier said than done – saying that in advance. We all know that feeling when your mind and body swarms with stress, anxiety and/or sorrow when you’re experiencing a break-up or a tough time from work or whatever the . case may be. It takes a significant effort to stop yourself from ruminating over an event that appears to have no present solution, which is why sometimes you need to make an attempt to put the incident down and try your hardest to relax. Go grab a coffee, or make a cup of tea, take a walk, etc. etc. If you have poor coping mechanisms this might mean stopping the activities you would usually do to give your mind a break. Aka checking your ex’s social media every half hour or thinking that working through the night to the point of exhaustion will make you better at your job or more prepared for your test. wrong. wrong. wrong. Take the fuel away from the fire and attempt to stop doing the things that make your situation worse. And to be quite clear – I was a PRO social media stalker back in the day.. not a good thing.
Face The Problem
Sometimes facing the problem is what you need to do to overcome overwhelming stress, as difficult as it may be. For instance, if you have an exam to study for, yet haven’t hit the books, and the pressure is becoming unbearable, the likelihood is this stress won’t go away until you sit down and actually start studying. Maybe there’s a work situation that’s irking you – gather up your
balls courage and talk to that negative coworker or bring up what’s bothering you with your boss (in a courteous way of course) and you might find the solution you’ve been wanting. NOTHING ever gets done without asking/going for it.
If you’re a little less ballsy (bc I’m quite bold) maybe try sitting down for 30 mins to look at developing solutions for solving the problem. Finding a way out could be the healthy coping mechanism you need to take back control of a situation rather than letting a scenario take control of you.
Our personalities, upbringing, education, experiences and so on play a big part in determining the coping mechanisms we adopt to help us through traumatic situations. There is no one-size fits all solution for coping – everyone’s threshold for pain, discomfort, anxiety, stress is different. This is why our coping mechanisms vary per person too, so be mindful of trying out a variety of healthy coping mechanisms before deciding what’s right for you. I’ve gone through a LOT of unhealthy coping through my years (mainly serious eating disorders) and through trial, error, and therapy I’ve found what works best for me. If my old reliables don’t work (exercise, tea, taking a drive, reading a book, movies, bubble bath) I’ll just put myself down for a nap.
What works for you?